Subject: West Side Update – August 25

Redeemer WestSide
WestSide Update
August 25, 2014

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Joan Ng’ongolo
Science Teacher

Joan Ng’ongolo is originally from Tanzania, from a town called Ubungo in Dar-Es-Salaam City. She also spent part of her childhood in Kenya, where her parents were stationed for diplomatic work.

“When I was 15 years old, my oldest sister passed away under unfortunate circumstances. She was only 25 years old. It was sudden, shocking, and impossible to believe,” says Joan. “I felt like God had abandoned me and I didn’t understand why he would allow my sister to die and my family to go through that kind of pain. Even though I struggled with that, the only way that I could ever possibly go through a day was by crying out to God.

“During the course of my suffering, God met me in my pain and confusion, and the process of discovering God for myself began for me. His kind of comfort was like no other,” says Joan. “Every day, I would read about his crucifixion and resurrection, and I began to understand that God cared about my pain and he had been through it all. It was something that he was deeply familiar with. I found strength, new hope and joy in Jesus’ death and resurrection.”

A few years later, in 2004, Joan and her family moved to the North Shore section of Long Island for her parents’ work. Joan moved to NYC in 2009. She lives in Sugar Hill Harlem and is a science teacher, working primarily with middle school children.

Joan visited Redeemer for several years and began attending regularly a year ago. She attends the West Side Women Bible study group on Tuesday nights, serves with various Hope for New York affiliates, and tutors with Operation Exodus.

Joan volunteers at the sermon table after both West Side morning services and facilitates making sermons available on CDs and ready for distribution right after the services. “Our team also greets and fellowships with church attenders during coffee hour and acts as a point of contact for visitors and people new to the church,” she says.

The UWS is one of Joan’s favorite places in the city. “Summers in the city remind me so much of my home country in that I get to sit outside and eat with friends,” says Joan. “I love everything outdoors. I enjoy camping, long walks and summer concerts in the city.”

As a church of Jesus Christ, Redeemer exists to help build a great city for all people through a movement of the gospel that brings personal conversion, community formation, social justice and cultural renewal to New York City and, through it, to the world.
Hello ,

By now you have likely heard that Leo Schuster has resigned his position as lead pastor of the East Side congregation to move to Texas, where his three daughters and elderly parents live. Personally, I want to thank Leo for his friendship and counsel over the last four years and am very sorry to see him go. Alice and I will miss Leo and Ellen greatly. Professionally, I also want to acknowledge and thank Leo for his leadership and valuable contribution to the development of the collegiate model we now inhabit.

As you may know the theme for our upcoming ministry year is prayer. The news of Leo’s departure is one of the many circumstances that evoke a range of emotions and a sense of uncertainty, especially in a transient place like NYC where we are regularly saying goodbye to people we love. And it is in times like this that I am reminded of the powerful gift God has given us in prayer. Eugene Peterson summarizes prayer this way:

Prayer is social energy. Prayer is public good. Far more of our nation’s life is shaped by prayer than is formed by legislation. That we have not collapsed into anarchy is due more to prayer than to the police. . . . The single most important action contributing to whatever health and strength there is in our land is prayer.

The same can be said about our church. So please join me in praying for the following things:

  • For Leo and Ellen and their transition back to Texas, for clarity of call and comfort of God’s presence.
  • For the East Side staff team, leadership and congregation during this season of transition.
  • For the senior leadership of Redeemer, that we might have wisdom about the best way to navigate the road ahead.
  • For unity and grace as we seek to live out the reality of what it means to be the body of Christ.

Thank you for your ongoing prayers and support.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

In Christ,

Rev. David Bisgrove


Multiply mercy’s impact, nominate a candidate for the Diaconate
In Acts 6, we see that as the church grew a segment of the population was overlooked. The congregants were urged to pick out from among them seven leaders “of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty” (v. 3). We do the same thing here at Redeemer, and you can participate! Help us to multiply mercy’s impact by identifying and nominating fellow Redeemer members who are compassionate, servant-hearted and spiritually mature to be candidates for the Diaconate, through which we as a church care for those most in need. We’d greatly appreciate your help and participation in praying for and with us, considering a financial gift, and, for church members, nominating candidates for the Diaconate this November. Learn more about the Diaconate here.

It’s the 6:45 p.m. from here on out
In case you’re just coming back to the city and usually go to an evening service, know that the 7 p.m. service has permanently moved up 15 minutes to 6:45 p.m. And, if you’re feeling crowded at the earlier services, know there’s ample room for you and your friends at that service, so come!


How’s your coordination?
We are looking for a strong, encouraging leader with some great organizing skills to volunteer as the Book Table coordinator for our 5 p.m. service teams. Interested? Contact And as always, you can sign up to serve on other Sunday Service Teams at

Q: What makes a good Beta Group host?
A: Someone who is willing to open their home, however grand or modest it might be. Beta Groups meet for seven weeks in the fall and are designed for those who are new to or exploring church and Christianity. We’re also taking recommendations for Beta Group leaders. More at

If you’re looking for opportunities to serve the city, as always, you can check Hope for New York’s Volunteer page (newly redesigned!) to see opportunities by date, neighborhood, service type and more.


HFNY mentoring info session tonight!
Monday, August 25, 7 to 8:30 p.m., 1359 Broadway, 4th floor
Learn how you can get involved as a mentor with Hope for New York’s children and youth programs at our mentoring info session! We’ll go over all the opportunities we’re offering this fall. Find out more about the info session here, or check out our #HFNYBacktoSchool posts on Instagram and Twitter to learn more.

Kindergarten Welcome Dinner
Saturday, September 6 at 5 p.m., W83 Ministry Center, Room 406
We invite rising kindergartners and their families to join us for a special dinner to celebrate this big year and talk with them about what they will experience when they spend the first part of the worship service with you. We will end the evening with pizza and cookies! RSVP is requested.

Children’s Ministry Promotion Sunday
Sunday, September 7, 9:30, 11:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. services
September 7 is promotion Sunday! All preschool and elementary kids promote to their new classes by age or grade. This is also the first day of our ministry year curriculum and programming.

Musicians pizza party
Monday, September 15, from 7 to 9 p.m., UWS
For professional musicians and conservatory students. Connect with old friends and make new ones! Email Tom Jennings for more info at

Faith & Work Conference 2014 theme and speakers announced
Friday and Saturday, November 7 and 8
The Center for Faith & Work announces the theme for this year’s Faith & Work Conference: “Making All Things New: Imagination and Innovation Required.” Speakers include New York Times columnist David Brooks, author Nancy Ortberg, Tim Keller and others. Lowest rates available now at

West Side Congregation
Church Offices | 1359 Broadway 4th Floor | New York, NY 10018
W83 Ministry Center | 150 W 83rd St. | New York, NY 10024