The Blog for Act Five by Redeemer

Act Five: Growing up

In light of the recent announcement that Act Five is set to become an independent organization, launching out from Redeemer in May 2023, we want to offer context for this decision as well as our hopes for Act Five as a program, community and organization moving forward.

The Story to this Point

Act Five began as an initiative birthed out of a network of educators who were committed to creating something “in between” high school and postsecondary pathways. The fundamental thrust was to create a program that invested in the Christian faith and character of its participants, facilitating their steps toward future pathways.

A group of Christian high school principals committed to launch a gap year project, and this group then came to Redeemer to ask, Do you want to do this with us? In line with Redeemer’s strategic plan at the time, the answer was a quick Yes! and Redeemer committed to pilot a new gap year program for 3 years.

Next came more focused vision, research into emerging young adults, philosophies of education and formation, and a network of folks dedicated to creating something that was dynamic, meeting real and pressing needs in a way we deemed faithful to the task.

Within a year of development, this program found a name – Act Five – out of a framework that calls us to imagine in community what it means to live faithfully as followers of Christ in the specific contexts of today’s world.

Subsequently, we committed to run a home at 75 Blake St. We invited our students to participate in the city of Hamilton, with local churches, in the Blakeley neighbourhood and in daily community life together. Our academic program – 4 courses at this point – and all of our travel became part of an integrated whole serving our broader goals of faith and character formation in this community and home.

Through all of this, Redeemer supported us. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, as many of us put our heads down to just try to make it, and as Act Five had less students than we anticipated and traveled far less than we thought we would, Redeemer said, “Yes, keep going. We are with you.”

But early on in this process, the question was always on the table –

“Long term, does Act Five make most sense as a Redeemer program, or does it make more sense as its own thing, in partnership with Redeemer?”

While Redeemer and these high schools have helped birth who we are, have maintained us through the pandemic, and remain invested in our mission, it is time for us to take this next step.

In consultation with the community supporting Act Five in circles of education, our Hamilton network, and the Redeemer leadership team, it was determined that the best way forward is for Act Five to become an independent charitable organization.

We are ready and we are excited.

What might this mean for the future of Act Five?

Initially, Act Five will establish the infrastructures that will govern and support us going forward. We will then, first and foremost, continue to do what we have been doing. We are committed to running a gap year program with all the key elements we have held so far. We are committed to 75 Blake St. We will continue to see Redeemer as a good option for some of our students after their time with us and hope to intersect with Redeemer throughout our program in meaningful ways.

Beyond this, we believe that Act Five can grow. As an organization invested in the Christian formation of young adults through communities of learning, there may be more doors that open.

We want to grow our focus in supporting young adults pursuing the trades among various sectors of work as engaged Christians. We see opportunities to facilitate intentional Christian communities of learning for young people pursuing postsecondary studies or work through their 20s. We see opportunities to open the doors of Act Five – literally and figuratively – to see where we can invite others to join us even if they live, study and work elsewhere.

All of these we hold with open hands, but the opportunities are there.

Finally, we commit to the following as we establish Act Five organizationally:

  • We will continue to invest in our relationships with our partner high schools and Redeemer University, remaining an integral option within the pathways of Christian education in Ontario.
  • We will root our practice and programming in leading research around youth and young adults as well as faithful orthodoxy and theology that inform how we disciple, teach and lead our students.
  • We will seek to build greater access to Act Five.
  • We will participate in the life of Hamilton and the local Church, seeking to be a contributing part of the ecosystem here. Included in this is our engagement in stewarding our piece of property at 75 Blake St and caring for our neighbours in the Blakely neighbourhood.
  • We will invest meaningfully in all who come our way, facilitating excellent programing within healthy, Christian community. We remain commited to care for our students’ formation while preparing them to live faithfully and wholeheartedly for years to come.

There is more to come in the months ahead. We ask the following in the meantime:

  1. Stay in touch with us through this transition
  2. Pray with us that God might continue what He has started here
  3. Consider whether you might support us financially as we head out as a new independent organization.

If you have further questions or wish to hear more of our story, please reach out at jberends@redeemer.ca.

Moving forward in faith,

Jon Berends