Chicago native Bill Riedel, his wife and three kids moved to D.C. in September 2010 to start a church. The evangelical congregation, Redemption Hill Church, now worships on Capitol Hill. It meets to celebrate Easter Sunday at 5 p.m. at 400 D St. SE.
Why does Easter matter to Christians?
Easter is the celebration of Jesus rising from death to life. We are completely dependent on the historical event of Jesus' resurrection. If Jesus rose from the dead, then it affirms all of his teachings and gives us hope that he has the power over sin and death. But if he didn't rise from the dead, then it brings into question whether we should listen to anything he or his followers said. It gets to the core of the Christian faith.
Do you think Christians can blend celebration of the resurrection with less profound things like Easter egg hunts?
We have fun with those things with our kids. We try to look at everything through a grid of whether we can receive things fully. Some things are good that we should incorporate. Some things oppose the Gospel, and we have to reject them. And other things are redeemable. So things like the Easter Bunny and Easter eggs are a fun pretend game we can play with our kids, but we make the primary celebration about Jesus and the resurrection.
What do you mean by "the Gospel"?
"Gospel" means "good news." For Christians this is really the heart of Easter, that we have good news that we want to tell. The good news is that while it's pretty clear that the world we live in is broken, that things are not as they ought to be globally or personally, that though each one of is us far worse than we can even imagine, that even though we could never on our own be holy or good enough, that God came to live the life we were incapable of living. He came to die on our behalf. He rose to life, conquering sin and death. The good news of Jesus is that we get to be part of that redemption.
What led you to D.C. to start a church?
The short answer is that I believe God called me and my family here. We love this city. We love the people in this city. D.C. is an exciting place to live right now. As beautiful as D.C. is, and with all the opportunity here, brokenness and challenges are fairly clear. So we felt called here to bring the hope of redemption in Jesus.
At your core, what is one of your defining beliefs?
Jesus is the defining point for everything. I believe that he is the answer for the desperation of our world and the deepest longing of our soul. He is the one who can give us peace and satisfaction. He is the one through whom we can ultimately be loved and accepted. He is the one who can offer us hope and life. It's my prayer for my life and my church that we would be focused on him, that our worship would be directed to Jesus, that our community and fellowship in its diversity would be through him, that our love for our city and the way we live in our city would be for his glory. Jesus is the center for everything.
- Liz Essley