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Feb 16, 2011 | Carol E. Barnwell

Redeemer Holds Final Service in Current Location

Redeemer, Houston
Redeemer, Houston

Ninety-two years after it was founded in 1919, Church of the Redeemer, Houston, will celebrate its final worship service in the current location on Sunday February 27, 2011. The following weekend, the congregation will join in worship with a nearby ELCA, Redeemer, at 5700 Lawndale, near their current location. This marks the first time a congregation of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas has utilized the Call to Common Mission, a 10-year-old agreement of full communion between the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

“From our first meeting they have shown such warmth and hospitality to us that it brings tears to my eyes,” said Redeemer’s Senior Warden Daniel Coleman. The two congregations will share expenses and some worship opportunities. The agreement will allow the congregation to continue to worship together as well as a place where their community outreach can continue.

The congregation and ministry will have to relocate because the buildings on their church campus are no longer safe. Deferred maintenance would now cost almost $7 million to remediate according to an assessment done by Tellepsen Builders and Studio Red Architects in the fall of 2010.

“The assessment team completed enough of their work to conclude that merely addressing the safety and code compliance issues would cost $3.5 million,” Sr. Warden Daniel Coleman, explained in a letter to the congregation. “To bring all our buildings into full compliance with current codes could cost twice that much,” he wrote.

“This does not mark the end of Redeemer,” Bishop Andy Doyle said, “rather a new beginning without the worry or challenges of maintaining a crumbling property. Redeemer’s community outreach has always been dynamic and will continue. We are working with the leadership to provide a worship location for the congregation.”

In the early twentieth century, William Wilson envisioned a planned community with one church that would be open seven days a week, serve the needs of the community and be a place of worship for all Christians. At the same time Episcopal Bishop Clinton S. Quinn had a vision for a mission in the rapidly growing “East End” of Houston and with a $3,500 donation from Christ Church (later the diocesan Cathedral), both visions became reality. Eastwood Community Church opened its doors in 1919.

Eventually, the church changed its name to Church of the Redeemer and experienced periods of growth, decline and re-growth over the last 90 years. Yet, through all the challenges of economic depressions, world wars and changing demographics the heart of the Redeemer community remained committed to mission, ministry and meaningful relationships.

The campus has provided the congregation and surrounding community with gracious spaces for worship, ministry and social outreach. Today the scope of the work required to bring the buildings up to code is beyond the means of the congregation. In some cases there are no longer sources for repair parts and repair of other structural issues is cost prohibitive. “It is time to rebuild for future generations,” said church leaders.

The current congregation is still developing what that future will look like. There is a unique opportunity to look back to the first century church and look forward to the 21st century church and marry the two in new and exciting ways. One thing is certain, however. At the heart of this congregation’s future will be mission, ministry, and meaningful relationships. The well-known mural of Christ will be removed and stored.

Redeemer will have a celebration of ministry on the weekend of February 25th. Click here for a schedule.