WHO WE ARE

About Us

History & Vision

The Church in New York City

Learn the humble beginnings and growth of the modern gospel movement within the city as well as where we see it headed.

The History

The modern gospel movement here dates back to the 1970’s, when the outer boroughs began to fill with Christian believers from Latin America, the Caribbean, and Asia. These faithful settlers planted 2,000+ churches over two decades. Manhattan, meanwhile, remained largely secular, with less than 1% of the population part of a gospel teaching church. Over the next few decades the body of Christ grew in center city from less than 1% to 5%. This growth was influenced by many new congregations, focused prayer, and a commitment to serve local neighborhoods.

City to City was co-founded and is chaired by Tim Keller. After transitioning out of his position as senior pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Tim moved into a full-time role with CTC, focusing on ministry in global cities like New York City. He and CTC’s global leaders work together to invest in and pass along what they have learned to a new generation of ministry leaders. The New York City Team is a joint strategy of Redeemer City to City and Redeemer Churches & Ministries. Through these endeavors, CTC helps build for and propel movements of the gospel in affiliate networks around the globe.

We want to help start self-replicating, biblically-faithful churches representing multiple denominations and expressions that mirror the diversity of the city.

Our Story

Redeemer City to City (CTC) was co-founded and is chaired by Tim Keller. After transitioning out of his position as senior pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Tim moved into a full-time role with CTC, focusing on ministry in global cities like New York City. He and CTC’s global leaders work together to invest in and pass along what they have learned to a new generation of ministry leaders. Through these endeavors, CTC helps build for and propel movements of the gospel in affiliate networks around the globe. We want to help start self-replicating, biblically-faithful churches representing multiple denominations and expressions that mirror the diversity of the city.

Our Vision

CTC NYC’s vision is to add to this momentum by continuing to train leaders across all denominations in church planting and replanting. This work is fueled by the dream of seeing New York City for all that God intends it to be, a city full of new and healthy churches engaged in their communities. To help with this endeavor we’ve teamed up with Redeemer Churches & Ministries for The New York Project, a ten-year strategy focussed on advancing the gospel movement in New York.

Our Impact

We’ve been helping leaders plant churches for nearly two decades. Some of the impact that this work has made on our great city since 2016:

170+
Churches Planted
with help or training from CTC
20+
Denominations & Planting Networks

represented in CTC programs

40+
Upcoming Church Plants

in the CTC Church Planting program

2000+
Leaders Trained

Foundation

Our facilitation philosophy and approach are informed by the following:

Gospel Fluency An understanding of how the gospel of Jesus Christ and His kingdom utterly transforms us individually, communally, and systemically.

Contextualization An understanding of how living incarnationally in a local context and learning to engage both its brokenness and beauty shapes gospel ministry.

Church Planting An understanding of the unique competencies and skills required for urban church planting in the 21st century.

Empowerment Ethics An understanding of how the cultural and theological resources from previously marginalized communities contribute to the global church.

Prayer An understanding of our unflinching dependence on God.

Our STAFF

Meet The NYC Team

We’re fully commited to helping New Yorkers fuel the holistic gospel renewal throughout the city, for the flourishing of everyone.

Tim Keller Former Chairman and Co-Founder
Steve Shackelford Chief Executive Officer
Michael Carrion Vice President, Movement Leadership
Mai Hariu-Powell Executive Director, New York Project
Robert Elkin VP NYC
Kerlin Calderon Assistant Director, Church Planting Training
Al Santino Assistant Director, Community Engagement
Reyn Cabinte Catalyst, Manhattan
Cal Almadovar Coordinator, Information Systems
Leslie Polanco Linares Manager, Recruiting and CRF
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Rick Lints Senior Advisor, City to City NYC
Kerlin Calderon Assistant Director, Church Planting Training
Al Santino Assistant Director, Community Engagement
Reyn Cabinte Catalyst, Manhattan
Cal Almadovar Coordinator, Information Systems
Leslie Polanco Linares Manager, Recruiting and CRF
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Rick Lints Senior Advisor, City to City NYC
Matthew Hoskinson VP NYC Leadership Development and Operations
Stan Thomas Assistant Director, City Ministry Program
Laban Reeves Content Coordinator, City Ministry Program
Jennifer Chan Sr Director Missional Engagement and Catalytic Training
Kristian Hernandez Sr Director Catalytic Partnerships
Carma Burgos Manager, Church Planting Programs
Matthew Hoskinson VP NYC Leadership Development and Operations
Stan Thomas Assistant Director, City Ministry Program
Laban Reeves Content Coordinator, City Ministry Program
Jennifer Chan Sr Director Missional Engagement and Catalytic Training
Kristian Hernandez Sr Director Catalytic Partnerships
Carma Burgos Manager, Church Planting Programs
Sarah Mills Coordinator, Events
Peter Ong Manager, Community Engagement
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Andrew Lai Marketing Coordinator, City to City NYC
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Michelle Bonilla Marketing Director, City to City NYC
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Emily Gregg NYC Training Team Administrator & Graphic Design
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Andrew Lai Marketing Coordinator, City to City NYC
Rick Lintz Senior Advisor, City to City NYC
Want to learn more?
Tim Keller Former Chairman and Co-Founder

Tim Keller is co-founder and chairman of CTC and pastor emeritus of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, which he founded (with his wife and three young sons) and led for over 25 years. Tim is now passing on his love for the gospel and commitment to the local church to a new generation of city-focused ministry leaders through the work of CTC, which has helped start over 700 churches in many of the most influential cities of the world.

He is also the author of over 25 books, including such New York Times bestselling titles as The Reason for God and The Meaning of Marriage.

Tim is married to Kathy, and they have three adult kids and seven grandkids.

Steve Shackelford Chief Executive Officer

Steve Shackelford oversees the development, oversight and execution of the global strategy of CTC as Chief Executive Officer.

He came to CTC with a long history of business and leadership experience—from his tenure with PWC, an international accounting firm that included stints in Paris and New York, to his senior leadership roles in the real estate sector with CNL, an Orlando, Florida based private investment management firm. Just before coming to CTC, Steve served as president of one of the largest business development companies in the United States, co-advised by CNL and KKR, a leading global investment management firm.

Steve and his high school sweetheart, Lisa, have been married for over 30 years. They have three adult children and two grandchildren.

Steve enjoys running, tennis, travel and history. He and Lisa live on the Upper West Side of NYC.

Michael Carrion Vice President of Church Planting & Leadership Development

Serving as the VP of Church Planting and Leadership Development Michael oversees the NYC team prayerfully and discerningly recruiting, training and resourcing church planters called to plant healthy missional churches in the five boroughs of NYC. Michael has successfully planted several churches and charter schools across the South Bronx. He is social justice activist, community organizer who has been nationally recognized for his work among the poor across the city. Prior to working with CTC Michael held appointment with the city of New York HRA/CAS and the Fedcap Group as the Senior Director of Workforce Development. As well as a prior role as the Deputy Director of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VRS). Michael is a native of the South Bronx and brings 30 years of urban pastoral ministry experience to the team.

Mai Hariu-Powell Executive Director, New York Project

Mai oversees the New York Project, a 10-year joint initiative of Redeemer City to City and Redeemer Presbyterian Church to see the body of Christ triple in New York. She also coordinates fundraising specifically for the New York Project while coordinating, designing and teaching trainings on evangelism. Before she joined City to City, she worked at Redeemer Presbyterian Church to open W83 Ministry Center for the West Side congregation and then to launch the Downtown congregation. She worked on several other projects but her favorite was running the Public Faith ministry year, especially the Questioning Christianity lecture series. Even before that, she spearheaded lobbying and communications campaigns for large-scale economic development efforts in NY for several years.

Robert Elkin Director, Training

Robert Elkin oversees the church planter training programs in NYC, giving particular focus to Fellows and Incubator Collective. His vision is to develop a robust training and coaching ecosystem that helps leaders start new creative expressions of the kingdom of God. Robert has twelve years of church planting experience in NYC, so he knows firsthand both the thrilling breakthroughs and painful challenges involved in urban ministry. Robert and his wife Sarah live in Williamsburg, Brooklyn with their endlessly curious son and fiercely independent daughter. They love exploring their diverse neighborhood and sharing lingering conversations with friends around the dinner table. Together they have learned to anticipate the unfolding story of God, and they live by this motto: Redemption Washes Backwards (Wait For It).

Kerlin Calderon Assistant Director, Church Planting Training

Kerlin Calderon is the lead pastor of Grace Tabernacle Ministries in the New York city. He was born in the Dominican Republic and at the age of 7 his parents moved to New York City. He grew up in the Inwood Heights section of upper Manhattan where he served his local church as youth and associate pastor. Kerlin loves to spend time with his family and enjoys watching the Yankees. He studied at Lehman College and Nyack’s Alliance Theological Seminary and holds degrees in administration and religion. He is married to his lovely wife Margie, they have two beautiful daughters Olivia & Aliah Calderon.

Al Santino Assistant Director, Community Engagement

Al oversees equipping churches to seek the peace and well being of their communities as a reflection of God’s love and justice for all. He helps to develop curriculum and coaching for Community Engagement teams whose purpose is to develop collaboration with their communities for the common good. For the past 32 years Al has been serving in community based ministries in the Bronx and Upper Manhattan. Since 2014 he has been Director of Viva Uptown Inc, a church based collaborative serving the communities of Washington Heights and Inwood. He obtained a Doctor of Ministry degree from Erskine Theological Seminary in 2010. Al is a native New Yorker who calls the Bronx his home. He loves the thriving community, culture and “creative chaos” of New York City. He enjoys basketball, jogging and spending time with his wife Haydee and son Lorenzo.

Reyn Cabinte Catalyst, Manhattan

Reyn is the Manhattan Catalyst for New York City with a specific focus on Pastors/Churches and partnering with new and current movement networks across the city. Along with his role at City to City, he is also the Senior Pastor of Uptown Community Church in Washington Heights. He planted Uptown in 2008, previously serving Emmanuel Presbyterian Church (Morningside Heights) and as church planting Fellow at Redeemer. Reyn is a founding board member of Viva Uptown. Prior to the ministry he worked as a producer at CBS News’ 60 Minutes, a writer for WorldVision, and once captain of the men’s swim team at Columbia. He has two boys with his wife, Esther.

Cal Almadovar Coordinator, Information Systems

Cal is responsible for the NYC team data architecture and infrastructure. He coordinates the collection of data, designs analytics and makes recommendations. Cal enjoys transforming raw data into usable metrics, creating visualizations and teaching teams about user behavior. Before joining CTC, Cal started his own company centered around a data app, SefSwaps, which led to designing research studies and advising firms on their data strategy. Cal grew up in Queens and graduated from Syracuse University. He tinkers in javascript, is struggling at comedy, and questions his decision to favor research over advertising.

Leslie Polanco Linares Manager, Recruiting and CRF

Leslie manages the recruitment operations of the Incubator and Fellows Programs as well as the City Renewal Fund. Prior to joining CTC, Leslie practiced Immigration law in the Bronx, and thoroughly enjoyed helping her community. Leslie has also served in ministry since the age of 16, and has a heart for the youth and the church in the urban context. Leslie was born in the Dominican Republic and was raised in Washington Heights and now enjoys serving the community at Grace Tabernacle Church in the Bronx, NY. Leslie and her husband Zeuxi reside in the Bronx, and they enjoy traveling and exploring new restaurants.

Matthew Hoskinson Director, City Ministry Program

Matthew spearheads urban pastoral training and education through the City Ministry Program, an innovative and integrated learning environment that blends the strong biblical and theological study with true-to-life ministry expertise. After finishing his academic work Matthew served for fifteen years in a range of pastoral roles, the last ten here in NYC. He was the pastor of The First Baptist Church in the City of New York for eight years, and came to CTC after helping to launch Mosaic Church, an ECC plant in Sunnyside, Queens. Matthew and his wife Kimberly live in Brooklyn with their five children. In his spare time he writes music, runs marathons, and coaches baseball.

Stan Thomas Assistant Director, City Ministry Program

Stan serves as the Project Manager for the City Ministry Program. As a program manager, he optimizes the student experience in the CMP, from recruitment and onboarding to assessment and matriculation. Born and raised in New York City, Stan spent the past 20 years serving in various fields. He started a non-profit while in college, helped plant Gallery Church (NYC), taught Philosophical Ethics to incoming freshmen and most recently served as a Ministry Director for a campus organization at Columbia University. Currently, he sits on the board of a college overseas and is involved in the tech-startup world. He is married and has one daughter and they call Harlem home. Stan enjoys convincing people that NYC is the greatest place on earth.

Laban Reeves Content Coordinator, City Ministry Program

Laban supports urban ministry training and education through the City Ministry Program by cultivating exceptional in-person and digital learning environments for students. He originally moved to NYC to further a budding career as a record producer in the music industry. Laban became part of the original launch team for New Horizon Church, a church plant in Harlem, in 2006. He grew and evolved as a ministry leader while serving in a variety of roles including small group leader, deacon, and eventually assistant pastor. He was eventually installed as the Lead Pastor in 2017 and replanted the church as New Generation Community Church where he currently serves. Laban and his wife Charity have five children and live in Harlem. In his spare time he drives RC cars, creates digital content, and makes music.

Jennifer Chan Missional Catalyst, City to City NYC

Jennifer serves as Missional Catalyst for the NYC team. In this role, she trains, coaches and convenes leaders in the areas of discipleship and evangelism. Previously, she led the Formation initiative with the Redeemer Churches. Jennifer also managed a national human trafficking awareness campaign with UNICEF USA, and mobilized UNICEF supporters to engage Congress on issues affecting the world’s children. Jennifer holds an Ed.M from Harvard University and has taught and trained in China and Tanzania. She and her family live in the Upper West Side. She is an avid reader, runner and loves to sing with her daughters while her husband hums along.

Kristian Hernandez Director, Recruiting & Partnerships

Kristian is the Lead Pastor of Hope Church Astoria, the founding church of the Hope family of churches started in 2012. He has previously served as the Director of Ministries at Resurrection Church in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Under the mentoring of Bishop Joseph Mattera, Kristian grew as a minister and leader, preaching and training preachers, leading the youth ministry for many years, discipling and counseling, and overseeing renovation projects. He and his family live in Rockaway, NY enjoying the beach whenever they can.

Carma Burgos Manager, Church Planting Programs

Carma manages all four programs within our NYC Church Planting Training Ecosystem: Fellows, Incubator Collective, Community Engagement, and Evangelism and Discipleship. In accordance with CTC New York City’s aim to catalyze church planters and leaders with the tools and resources they need, Carma supports program directors and participants by overseeing budgets, building relational capital, offering administrative and operational support, and providing feedback on continuous quality improvement across the ecosystem. Carma is an NYC transplant from the deep south and has an academic background in theology, counseling, and professional writing, and a professional history of working across corporate and non-profit industries as an operations director, clinical program manager, communications professional, and is a licensed marriage and family therapist in NY. A southerner at heart, she resides in south Brooklyn with her native-New Yorker husband and their dog, a Whoodle named TedTalks.

Sarah Mills Coordinator, Events

Sarah supports the New York team through organizing the logistics of events and training. A New Yorker for over 12 years, she has a background operating in the theatrical industry. Most recently, she assisted with philanthropic fundraising events for a non-profit organization. Sarah is an active member of the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood. Her and her husband planted One Community Church there. They both have participated in City to City initiatives. Sarah serves as an ongoing member of Manhattan Community Board 4, and the Times Square Alliance. In her spare time she enjoys creative writing and singing, as well as swimming laps at her local pool.

Peter Ong Manager, Community Engagement

Peter manages the Community Engagement program facilitating training programs with an engagement model focused on justice and mercy and evaluating outcomes. These fit within the broader leadership development pipeline of CTC’s church planting and leadership training ecosystem. With a passion for mercy and justice, he has served nearly 20 years in New York City engaging the church to serve local immigrant youth and advising youth ministries and conferences across the nation. He served on staff as Director of Gospel Community at Living Faith Community Church where he established a mercy and justice ministry. As Director of Laity Ministries for Pastoral and Laity Ministries, he equipped and trained lay leaders within the Asian American church context. In 2011, he was a Redeemer City to City Church Planting Fellow, during which time he and his wife, Jamie, planted King’s Cross Church, a congregation of Living Faith Community Church serving downtown Flushing’s immigrant families. He served as City to City’s Catalyst Leader networking and coaching new church planters. Presently, he serves as Ministry Director and the Chair of the Living Faith Community Development Corporation.

Peter also currently works at LEADNYC as an advisor for Flourish 2030 Advisor, 10 ZIP Codes Project thoughtfully and effectively serving the most at-risk and underserved neighborhoods of New York City. Flushing Queens is home for Peter and Jamie where they love reading, listening to music, watching movies and hiking the concrete jungle.

Ruben Soto Vice President, City to City NYC

Ruben oversees all external programming in New York, as well as internal operations and staff care for the New York City team. He helps strategize and cast vision for New York City programs, and provides well-rounded support for pastors and ministry leaders. Ruben helps measure the effectiveness of our ministry impact and makes sure our programs are meeting tangible needs in the city. He also oversees internal operations and creates relational infrastructure for the team. He provides encouragement and pastoral support for our staff, while also making day-to-day logistics happen. Ruben is a Brooklyn native and comes from three generations of pastors in his family. He has a business background, a masters in leadership, and is currently enrolled at Reformed Theological Seminary. He lives in Bay Ridge with his wife, Natalia, and enjoys bike riding around the city. Ruben loves NYC for its richness, intensity, diversity and beauty.