What's a Jesus?: Heidi Neumark
Heidi Neumark spent twenty years as the pastor of Transfiguration Lutheran Church in the South Bronx in New York City, and has spent the past decade at Trinity Lutheran Church in Manhattan. At both posts, she has encountered the same need: people on the margins - cast out and endangered - who need to hear the Good News that they are wanted, needed, and valued. So Reverend Neumark has focused her ministry on immigrants, the homeless, and queer and LGBTQ youth, offering them shelter and welcome in a city that is often harsh and violent.
Also on the show, our guest producer, Katie Lynn Murphy, files a report about her experiences of China during the recent protests.
Neumark is the author of the 2004 memoir, Breathing Space: A Spiritual Journey in the South Bronx. The book chronicles her twenty years of work in that area of New York City, in a ministry that was intentional about reaching out to at-risk populations that had been adversely affected by housing and welfare cuts that began in the eighties.
Publishers Weekly hails Neumark as "a gifted storyteller," and goes on to note that "she portrays people who, despite personal tragedies and minimal resources, band together to build low-income housing, create first-rate schools, restore their church, plant trees and help each other through crises."
Because her congregation serves a large number of immigrants, she holds regular services in Spanish. During our conversation, Neumark spoke about the insights she has gained from this practice about how the Gospel is heard by different communities that live in the same place. Sometimes her messages are heard as "very political," and sometimes, "not political enough." But, as Neumark notes, it's the same Gospel; what makes the difference is the context of those listening.
Neumark was invited in mid-October 2014 to preach at the University of Chicago's Rockefeller Chapel. After the service, our host David Dault sat down with her on location at the Divinity School for the interview.
Also on the Show
We welcome our new guest producer, Katie Lynn Murphy, who files a report about her close-up experiences of China during the recent protests.
Murphy is a writer and a traveler. She holds an MFA from Emerson College. Her work has been published in literary journals such as The Normal School. She currently lives in China.