The PCA's 'Flagship' in NYC
Since its founding as a mission work in 1989, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, under the leadership of Pastor Tim Keller, has experienced tremendous numerical success. Approximately 1,900 now gather any given Sunday for worship at Hunter College on Manhattan's East Side.
Redeemer has sought consciously to contextualize its ministry to the culture of the "Big Apple." Among its practices have been the use of women in various roles in worship (e.g., taking up the offering, assisting in distributing the elements of communion, reading Scripture, and leading in prayer).
The church has deliberately incorporated unbelievers as musicians in its worship. In a July 18, 1996, letter, Dr. Keller writes: "Artistic excellence is not the only goal of our music ministry. We want to minister to musicians, to help those on their own spiritual journeys to find Christ, and to help Christian artists to live out and integrate their faith with their work. When you see artists on stage, remember that they represent basically the same spectrum of people who are sitting in the auditorium. Some are solid believers, some are very conscious unbelievers, and some don't know what they think! Pray for this exciting ministry. . . . Supported by the budget of Redeemer, the Worship Arts ministry harnesses music and artistic talent so that it produces changed lives. Through it both those giving music as well as those receiving music are finding Christ. Both the sower and the reaper can rejoice together."
Recently, Redeemer has been in the forefront of the move toward establishing a new New York City Metro Presbytery. According to the "Proposed Statement of Purpose," there are several "theological convictions [which] strongly inform us as we unite to form a presbytery." Among the statements which follow is the following: "The Reformed understanding of the gospel prevents us from falling into either legalism or license, into either a traditional conservatism or a naive liberalism. Reformed theology's understanding of sovereign grace enables us to understand God as far more holy than the legalist sees Him, and as far more loving than the liberal humanist sees Him. The gospel is the basic resource for theological, congregational, and personal renewal. We believe that it has power to bring renewal to a whole city."