New Jersey church sells buildings, donates cash to non-profits, other churches

MAYWOOD, N.J. (WABC) -- When the membership of the former Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Maywood dwindled to about a dozen worshipers, there appeared to be a higher calling.

"That we would very much like to sell it to another congregation so that it would always be a church," said Susan Nelson-Colaneri, pastor.

The sanctuary, a school and the property sold for about $1.2 million and that's when church officials said the real missionary work began.

"We sat down and did the joyful work of deciding who was going to share the rest of our legacy," Nelson-Colaneri said.

She is also the pastor at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in nearby Hasbrouck Heights. She and other members chose eight different non-profit charities and two churches.

"A reflection of the heart of the people of Redeemer, that's where their heart was," she said. "Always where people were in the most need."

Opening her mail recently, Kate Duggan, the executive director of Family Promise of Bergen County, found a check for $141,700.50.

"I had to make sure that what I thought I was seeing was actually on the check," she said.

Out of a small cluster of offices and this family center in the basement of a church in Ridgewood, Family Promise provides shelter and services for homeless families.

Duggan said, "A gift like this allows us to focus on our mission and really help working families get back on their feet again. It's life changing."

On Sunday, those who gave and those who received came together. "Now we knew how much the gifts we were able to give were appreciated and needed," Nelson-Colaneri said. "I just hope that the church members find some comfort knowing that their legacy lives on in Family Promise."
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