NEW HOPE – A PROFILE OF FAITH IN ACTION
“We’ve Come This Far By Faith”, the theme song of New Hope Lutheran Church in Jamaica, Queens, speaks to a faith journey over the past thirty five-plus years by baptized believers who had been struggling during the 1960’s and early 70’s to survive as three individual southeast Queens congregations of largely African descent – Good Shepherd, Incarnation and St. Thomas Lutheran Churches. The consolidation of the three churches, which officially formed New Hope in September, 1973, was not an easy process. Decisions on where and how to worship, for example, prompted endless meetings and discussions before the former St. Thomas church building and parsonage was finally selected as New Hope’s permanent site. But the God we serve is an awesome God. He provided the merged congregations with visionary clergy shepherds and dynamic lay leaders who structured and implemented committees and ministries that eventually kindled the cooperative spirit embodied in New Hope’s mission statement: “Three in one, united for ministry, fortified by faith and committed to service”. The Worship and Music and Property Committees were among the first to be formed by our first pastor, Rev. Chester Strohl, and his wife, Mary. Our first and only organist and music director for over 25 years was Mr. Leola Cherry who formed the senior and youth choirs and performed a wonderful music ministry until a long illness led to her death in 2003. Many other active committees and groups were created over the years until now New Hope boasts 22 functioning committees and ministries.
It is written “…faith without deeds is useless…” James 2:20. New Hope’s faith story is strongly under-girded by the deeds of many clergy and lay leaders whose faith and works contributed to its survival along the rocky road New Hope traveled during its formative years. This was a critical factor during the pastoral vacancy between 1986 and 1989 when lay leaders and supply pastors kept New Hope alive and relational. Many of those early faith-led workers now rest from their labors. However, New Hope continues to be blessed with many talented and devoted members who are continuing to build on the legacy of those who preceded them in our faith journey. We were especially blessed during the 13 years of leadership by our most recent pastor, Rev. Brenda K. Smith, who was recently called by the parent church to serve as its Director of Discipleship. She instilled into the congregation a strong sense of love, faith and service unparalleled in the history of New Hope, mainly by example. Her community and synod-wide activism has resulted in New Hope being recognized as an outstanding church throughout the entire Metropolitan New York Synod.
Our current motto is “New Dreams Build New Hope”. In pursuit of these dreams, major renovations are now underway to make the church accessible to the physically challenged and to augment our youth and outreach ministries, including a food pantry for anyone who needs to supplement their daily meals and an Angel Tree program that provides Christmas presents and holiday joy to children of incarcerated parents, to name but a few. It has been, and continues to be, a faithful journey in which we proclaim to God be the glory.
Submitted by Judge Daniel Joy