A Church’s Closed Doors Open Windows for Social Justice, Human & Civil Rights in New Haven

Sale of New Haven’s Church of the Redeemer Property Starts New Fund at The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven

The former Church of the Redeemer. Photo credit: Geoff Johnson

November 20, 2020 (New Haven, Conn.) – The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven is pleased to announce the creation of the Church of the Redeemer Community Legacy Fund (The Fund). The Fund is the final act of the Church of the Redeemer in New Haven, which dispersed in 2018 to neighboring congregations after its members announced they would put the church property on the market.

The Fund will be a broad preference fund to continue the church’s 182 year history of engaging in a wide range of community service in perpetuity; it will be used as most needed to: promote social justice, human and civil rights, criminal justice reform, and support for immigrants; provide access to basic human needs, including but not limited to affordable housing, health, education, and food security. Priority will be given to groups or organizations that promote and embody the values of connecting, relating, and belonging in these relationships, and seek to minimize or eliminate historical patterns of dividing, controlling, and exploiting, as described above.

William Ginsberg, president and CEO of The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven says, “The Church of the Redeemer’s decision ensures that its long history in our community of working for social justice lives on, as will its work to secure resources for people facing disadvantages that must be changed in our society. This is a permanent legacy that will significantly help our community move closer to becoming a place of equity and opportunity for everyone. The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven is deeply honored to be entrusted with carrying forward this legacy, and appreciative of the congregation for its lasting commitment to our community.”

All told, the Church of the Redeemer is disbursing over two million dollars, nearly $800,000 of which is being used to launch the Church of the Redeemer Community Fund at The Community Foundation. The remainder is going to other church-affiliated organizations, including the four-church OASIS Youth Group in the New Haven area and the New Haven Association of the United Church of Christ to set up an endowment fund for Members in Discernment (those who are exploring God’s call into ministry).

Additionally, three neighboring churches where many of the former Redeemer congregation now attend services are each receiving funds from the sale of the Church’s property at the corner of Whitney Avenue and Cold Spring Street: Dixwell Avenue Congregational Church of Christ in New Haven, First Presbyterian Church of New Haven and Spring Glen Church, UCC in Hamden.

“The Church of the Redeemer and its leaders are to be commended for their decision to create the Redeemer Community Legacy Fund in partnership with the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven,” says Rev. Dr. Frederick J. Streets, senior pastor of Dixwell Avenue Congregational United Church of Christ. “The wider New Haven community and the State of Connecticut were served well for the nearly 200-year history of the Church of the Redeemer. The Redeemer Community Legacy Fund will ensure that the work of racial and social justice of this former congregation will continue by examining and seeking remedies for the impact of colonialism.”

“Throughout scripture, we are reminded of the steadfast faithfulness and love of God throughout the generations. And today, the Legacy Plan of the Church of the Redeemer illustrates this truth,” remarked Rev. Jocelyn (J.C.) Cadwallader, pastor at the First Presbyterian Church of New Haven. “For generations yet to come, God will use this Legacy Plan to support the most vulnerable among us - inspiring present generations to live into their calling to love God and to love their neighbors.“

“We at Spring Glen Church are grateful to now be part of Redeemer's Legacy, both through the people who transplanted to become part of our church family and through the financial gifts offered to embolden our ministries. We want to honor the grief that accompanies this gift while also lifting up the courage, faith, and hope it took to choose this path towards new life and new possibilities,” says Rev. Jack Perkins Davidson, senior pastor at Spring Glen Church, UCC in Hamden, CT. “Because we are an Easter people, we know the resurrection of Easter comes after the death of Good Friday. We pray that this legacy gift might be a resurrection moment for the Church universal. We pray that Church of the Redeemer can be reborn anew through all the churches, non-profits, and people it has supported. May Church of the Redeemer's significant history guide all of our futures towards more loving, just, and inclusive ministries.”

About The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven

The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven is a philanthropic institution that was established in 1928 as the community's permanent charitable endowment. It’s mission is to inspire, support, inform, listen to and collaborate with the people and organizations of Greater New Haven to build an ever more connected, inclusive, equitable and philanthropic community. For more than three generations, thousands of donors have built Greater New Haven’s community endowment by establishing permanent funds or making gifts to existing funds that distribute grants to a broad variety of issues and organizations. These donors, past and present, make their gifts to ensure that programs and causes that matter most to them will be supported today and forever. The Community Foundation is one of the oldest and largest community foundations in the United States and remains the largest grantmaker in a twenty-town region located in the heart of central Connecticut. The Community Foundation is recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)3 organization.

Media Contacts:

  • Patricia Bogie, Communications Director, The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven
    Email
    (email for phone while working remotely)
  • David Carter, Moderator, Church of the Redeemer, UCC
    203-530-5654
  • Jack Perkins Davidson, Senior Pastor, Spring Glen Church, UCC
    203-903-8044