The Legacy Center
In January 2008, we convened a visioning retreat to explore how Christ Tabernacle could expand its efforts to take the Gospel beyond the walls of the church through acts of compassion, justice, community service, and intentional leadership development. To that end, the retreat participants conceived a separate 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation that would embody the legacy of Christ Tabernacle (“CT”), specifically its commitment to loving its neighbors and meeting the felt needs of the surrounding community.
Pastors Michael and Adam Durso appointed a primary TLC planning team from the church with Rafael Castillo and church member and Assistant Commissioner of the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development Denise Williams. In addition, beginning in May 2008, various stakeholders and focus groups have contributed to the ongoing planning process, including CT Executive Team members, Youth Explosion (“YE”) director Chris Durso, the YE staff, the Counseling Center staff, and teens and youth leaders from YE.
Proposed Mission and Activities
Beginning with the visioning retreat in January 2008, TLC was imagined as a distinct, but related, non-profit that would engage residents of Christ Tabernacle’s surrounding neighborhoods of Glendale, Queens, and Bushwick, Brooklyn, who were not otherwise connecting to the ministries of the Church.
As an extension of Christ Tabernacle’s holistic vision for community renewal, TLC’s mission became: to empower otherwise at-risk youth and families to transform their communities by living life on purpose. It would accomplish this mission by administering both non-religious and faith-based social services to address educational, social, and economic inequalities including, but not limited to: intentional leadership development, youth development, academic enrichment, economic literacy, arts programming, and family counseling.
While the long-term goals for TLC include inter-generational services designed to engage entire families, TLC’s planning team decided to lead with youth development given CT’s proven institutional commitment to innovative youth programming for more than a decade. Specifically, while not using the language of “youth development,” YE has provided leadership development, mentoring, music and multimedia production, literacy and creative writing, spoken word, drama and musical theater, publishing, graphic and fashion design, and entrepreneurship, in addition to its explicitly faith-based programming. Largely on the strength of such efforts, YE has grown from 18 teens in 1997 to more than 600 active members today. Local YE events have drawn as many as 2,000 and regional initiatives have touched upwards of 25,000 a year for the last five years. TLC will expand the reach and impact of such efforts by purposefully taking them beyond the walls of the church building in partnership with public schools and other community institutions.
TLC Related Outreaches
Urban Impact in conjunction with Chaplain Willie Alfonso and Zarephath Christian Church hosts a monthly sports camp with 20 boys from Christ Tabernacle. Special events have included: chapel with athletes, thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, week long summer camp and monthly food care packages.
For over a decade CT has participated in Angel Tree, a ministry of Prison Fellowship which purchases gifts for the children of inmates who are incarcerated. CT hand delivered over 75 gifts to children over the holidays.
CT launched Operation Backpack as an adopt-a-school outreach in 2007 and expanded it to include four public schools in 2008. CT was able to deliver 1,590 back packs complete with required school supplies. Each school allowed full teams of church members to hand deliver the backpacks.