Church of the Redeemer is creating a model of how to respond to an active but declining membership in a church with a grand building and rich history.
On Sunday, August 26, 2018, members of the Church of the Redeemer UCC in New Haven, CT voted to approve their Leadership Council's recommendation that members transplant to Spring Glen Church UCC in Hamden and commendation of First Presbyterian Church in New Haven as an alternative.
Both vibrant congregations share the values and ministry priorities of Church of the Redeemer. However, consistently more members of Redeemer wanted to remain within the United Church of Christ denomination. We recognize that individual choice is an important part of who we are as Christians and support all our members wherever they choose to attend church.
Timeline Leading to Redeemer’s Decision to Transplant and Create a Legacy Plan:
- In 2015 Church of the Redeemer began conversations with four other UCC churches in New Haven.
- These discussions led Redeemer and one of those churches to engage in an active two-year exploration of forming a new church together. While these talks were rewarding and hopeful, both congregations voted against creating a new church together in June 2017.
- Our senior minister, Rev. Dr. Shelly Stackhouse, after serving Redeemer for eleven years, left before this vote.
- Rev. Susan Murtha was hired as our interim senior minister in October 2017.
- With Susan’s guidance, Redeemer entered a period of deep questioning and active discernment. On June 17, 2018 members of the congregation of the Church of the Redeemer voted to transplant our individual and collective non-material energies to another church and to develop a transition plan to preserve the history and legacy of the Church of the Redeemer through our material assets.
- Prior to this vote, Susan Murtha, with the Leadership Council, had identified both Spring Glen UCC and First Presbyterian as vital, healthy churches that had much in common with Redeemer. Conversations between the church leaderships were initiated.
- Since the June 17th vote in favor of transplanting, members of Redeemer engaged in a summer of activities, worship, and conversation with both Spring Glen and First Presbyterian.
- Redeemer members worshiped, engaged in multiple, varied conversations, and completed two surveys, to discern their preferences, concerns, and hopes.
- Both Spring Glen and First Pres were acknowledged and praised as excellent, vibrant, faithful choices. However, many members expressed a desire to stay within the denomination of the United Church of Christ.
- The Leadership Council distilled the congregation’s preferences from responses to member surveys and from formal and informal conversations into the recommendation that was voted on at a special congregational meeting on Sunday, August 26, 2018.