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Bennett Whitaker

Bennett Whitaker

Bennett Whitaker

When I first came to Redeemer, I was responding to a call for a sign language interpreter. The congregation's current interpreter was soon to leave the state and needed to find a suitable replacement. I came to fill a need. I hadn't anticipated that Redeemer would fill a need in me.
I'm a grandson of a Lutheran minister, so I had grown up in the faith and had regularly attended services at a church in Toledo, Ohio. When I later moved to Columbus, I found myself without a congregation to call home. Several years passed, and though I tried to find a place in many churches around me, none seemed to fit. So, I had no special hopes for a good match when I showed up to Redeemer, either. And, after all, I was only there to do a job.
What I found at Redeemer stunned me. Everyone's earnest, open, radical welcome was simply incredible. Especially powerful for me were Redeemer's tireless, boundless compassion for needs of the hungry and homeless and its longstanding, unwavering, full inclusion of LGBT people. I have never seen another Lutheran congregation so sincerely invite and so warmly, unconditionally embrace everyone they meet. Nor have I ever been part of a Lutheran church so committed to social and economic justice. I have come to understand that their passion for radical welcome goes deep, deep into the bones of the people at Redeemer. It is a response of their identity--it's just their character. Or, perhaps more precisely, it's a measure of God's character accomplished through them. Either way, it's the reason that I joined Redeemer.
The folks here are doing real, impactful work to care for and reach out to all those we meet (and even for those we haven't yet met). It's inspiring, and more than a little awesome to be a part of this adventure for life with one another. Worshiping and growing at Redeemer stirs in me an urgency and the courage to reach out, speak up, and risk all for others. It's humbling and exciting work, a purposeful direction for my faith, and I can't wait to see what God has in store for us on this journey together.