Redeemer Community Church
Members of the Vine City Vipers basketball team
pose with their fans after a game during the 2013 season.
According to Pastor Kris McDaniel, the idea for Redeemer Community Church began with a trip to New Orleans. After Hurricane Katrina, McDaniel and some parishioners from Trinity Anglican Mission spent a few days helping with relief efforts. Though their trip was short, it left a significant impression on McDaniel, who later wrote of the experience, “ The result [of the trip] was powerful for our church community. We had become interested in something that truly mattered, namely helping a community to rebuild in the aftermath of destruction. Quickly we decided that it’d be good to engage in this type of work close to home in addition to going to places like New Orleans. So we began to ask questions about what this kind of mission might look like in Atlanta.”
Driving home from a meeting one evening, McDaniel had an unexpected moment of inspiration. Flipping through random radio stations, he stumbled upon an old speech by Martin Luther King, Jr. King mentioned that he lived in Vine City, and for some reason the name stuck in McDaniel’s mind. A few days later, he ran into an old friend who mentioned that he and his wife now lived in Vine City and were committed to helping the community. After their conversation ended, McDaniel decided to see Vine City for himself, and it he explained that it “became apparent that God was doing some really special things there through them. We began to ask God whether these coincidences were His work or just random, unconnected events. Over time, it became clear to us that God was inviting us to enter a long term partnership with the community in Vine City.”
But what would such a “partnership” look like? McDaniel and other members of Trinity began to pray and brainstorm about this question, but they had no idea how it would turn out. “At first, we had no clue as to what that [long term partnership] meant. We just knew that God had asked us to pray for Vine City and to be willing to serve the community where possible. Our motto in the beginning was ‘take a row boat instead of a speed boat’. We don’t want to rush into a programmatic model of ministry. We wanted to build relationships and equity over time.” >br />
For the last five years, they have remained true to this slow-but-steady approach, and their commitment appears to be paying off. What began with a handful of people has blossomed into a genuine, thriving community, complete with Bible studies, holiday parties, community dinners, game nights, and even a youth basketball team called the Vine City Vipers—and a trickle of more than thirty people from Trinity moving into the community. But as Drew Henley explains, their goal is not to “make Vine City prettier” and that, if Vine City ends up with more parks and streetlights, they will have failed. Instead, these Christians hope to build relationships and bring restoration through faith, thereby renewing the community from the inside-out. The planting of Redeemer Community Church is the most recent step in a five-year process that Pastors Drew Henley and Kris McDaniel hope will continue to grow in the years to come.
For more information about this project, please have a look at the following clip: