Adapting to change can be hard, but the Rev. Dr. Kerry Allison is finding success by embracing the new and different.
For years, Church of the Redeemer, where Allison serves as pastor, was well known for its excellent Christian academy. But, in 2010, the school closed due to the challenges of operating the tuition-based institution.
However, the Redeemer congregation was deeply committed to education, plus, they still owned the facilities on their nearly three-acres of property. The answer to their dilemma was to change.
With the support of the membership, Allison rented worship space to other ministries as well as to a day care center. Their willingness to adapt resulted in additional resources to maintain the campus and most importantly, additional believers to spread the Gospel.
“It’s not just a rental thing, it’s a shared ministry. We have one Nigerian church, one Ghanaian, and two churches from Salvadorian pastor backgrounds. We do ministry time together, worship together and outreach together. Shared space and shared responsibility to the glory of God,” explained Allison.
“It’s really been blessing. It’s a change for us because we’re accustomed to using the property when we want to and how we want. But, it has caused us to work out a schedule and to use it. There’s something going on here almost every day of the week, day and night. We call the others connecting congregations,” he said.
“People need church space. We really believe in using collaboration to address needs in our community. We may not be able to do it ourselves, but we can partner with people and the community in order to do ministry.”
Allison’s partnerships extend to the L.A. County Department of Children and Family Services where Redeemer members developed a region-wide program for foster children. The program, called Teen Club, involves monthly meetings with the youth to share career and college information along with other materials to assist the children’s physical, mental and spiritual development.
In addition, the church united with a local food bank to administer a summer meal program for young people. The activities include a free two-week summer camp that is open to children in nearby neighborhoods.
“Our camp attendance is anywhere from 50-to-100 kids and because of our location, we attract youth from South Los Angeles, Carson Compton and Gardena,” said Allison, who added that Redeemer sponsors another summer camp for 150 children in Cameroon, Africa.
Allison’s background likely inspired him to reach across denominational and ethnic lines to perform ministry to as many people as possible. Raised by a mother who attended a Church of God in Christ fellowship and a father who identified as Baptist, he recalled, “I was always oriented toward the possibility of serving the kingdom of God, not one particular denomination.”
After accepting the call to preach at the age of 17, he went on to graduate with a Bachelor’s degree from California Baptist University in Riverside and earn both his Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees at Claremont School of Theology, which is operated by the United Methodist Church.
His ministerial background is also diverse. He has served as an associate pastor at Loveland Church in Rancho Cucamonga, Macedonia Baptist Church in Pomona and First AME Church in Los Angeles. He’s also taught at the University of LaVerne Ecumenical Center and worked at a mission in San Bernardino.
While serving temporarily as pastor of Hope Community Church in Los Angeles, which is a member of the Reformed Church of America (RCA), he learned about the opening at Redeemer, which is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church.
“RCA, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Episcopal and United Churches of Christ (UCC) have a formal agreement that allows their pastors to serve in each other’s denomination. So, I came to Redeemer in 2009 and the Lord has really blessed the ministry,” said Allison.
As God’s blessings continue to flow, Allison hopes to move his ministry to the next level in the near future. His plans include collaborating with a charter school to build a middle school to accommodate 500 students.
“In the next five years, I also see a new edifice here called Redeemer Cathedral and Community Center,” he said. “It will allow us to unite with other congregations to do ministry to bring about a spiritual change and quality-of-life change for the people in our community.”
Church of the Redeemer is located at 900 E. Rosecrans Ave., in Los Angeles. Pastor Allison will saluted for his 10th year at the church on Sunday, Feb. 17, at 3 p.m. To learn more, call (310) 537-1372.