Students Say Farewell to Redeemer Community Church
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Many students at Westmont lost their home with Redeemer Community Church’s recent closure. The Carpinteria church held its last service on Sept. 14.
Westmont students composed a significant portion of the church’s congregation. Fourth-year Kyle Cablay said he appreciated the church’s small size and tight community.
“Going back [to Redeemer] after summer was like coming back home, because everyone was so close,” Cablay said. “It was refreshing being able to be involved in a church where everyone knew you personally.”
The still-young church was planted about three years ago by senior pastor Ryan Reed, said youth pastor and Westmont alumnus David Pennington. Reed sold his flooring business and started Redeemer in an empty building owned by the Nazarene church. Reed’s previous home church, Santa Barbara Community, supported his efforts to plant the non-denominational, evangelical church. Redeemer’s congregation grew through several ministries that it launched to serve the community.
Notably, through Redeemer’s “Maverick’s Ministry”, the church organized a basketball team for Carpinteria children. The team allowed members to share both basketball skills and faith with the children, as well as connect with single mothers in Carpinteria, Pennington said. Attendance swelled.
“Then Westmont students began to come,” said Cablay. “I believe they were really attracted to how close we were as a church family, yet so involved in the community of Carpinteria.”
In it’s years as a church, Redeemer continued to reach out to the surrounding community and supported mission work globally, sponsoring missionaries in South America and Honduras.
Westmont students report that the church also significantly impacted their own lives. Fourth-year Emily Keach said that the preaching at Redeemer “definitely deepened my relationship with the Lord during my three years there.”
In addition to Pennington, other Westmont students took on leadership roles within the church. Fourth-year Julee Felts, for example, participated in Redeemer’s worship team. She estimates that Westmont students made up over half congregation.
On Sept. 11, Redeemer notified its congregation that financial difficulties had forced the church to close.
The news startled Keach, Cablay and their fellow students.
“I was shocked when I read the email saying the next Sunday would be the last Sunday together,” said Keach.
Congregants gathered for an emotional last service, Cablay said.
“The last sermon was met with tears and embracing,” said Cablay. “We worshiped together a final time and then had an opportunity to share with the congregation the impact that Redeemer has had on our lives. It was beautiful and loving, but sad.”
Now without a church home, Cablay and many of his fellow students are searching for a new community. Felts has appreciated the opportunity to visit different churches.
“It is refreshing to see the differences in worship or sermon style from church to church,” said Felts, who has decided to attend All Saints-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church.
Though it no longer holds services, Redeemer continues to touch students and the local community. The Maverick’s Ministry still operates and hopes to grow. Those involved with the ministry have dreams of building a community recreation center for the city of Carpinteria, Pennington said.
“The encouraging thing is that while Redeemer Community Church is not meeting anymore, it is not over,” Cablay said. “I still meet with my home group and can still surf with Ryan, our pastor.”
For Keach, the final service ended with a note of hope.
“This is the hope we have even with the closure—that we will take how the Lord has transformed us there [at Redeemer] and use it to bless the Church in other ways,” said Keach.