Hundreds of NYC-area nonprofit and church leaders — young and old, red and yellow, black and white — are mobilizing as one body for the very first time in an effort to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ in one of the world’s most unique urban centers, thanks to an initiative organized by the Luis Palau Association.
New York City has seen a surge in the past decade or more of contemporary, Millennial- and usually white male-led churches, who stand in contrast, in some ways, to the old guards who put down spiritual roots in the big city decades ago.
Among the veteran leaders are people like Jim Cymbala (Brooklyn Tabernacle) and African-American pastors and civic leaders A.R. Bernard (Christian Cultural Center) and Floyd Flake (Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral), whose combined congregations number more than 60,000 New Yorkers.
Add to the mix the thousands at Timothy Keller’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Carter Conlon’s Times Square Church and James Nam Soo Kim’s Promise Church, and the number swells even more. There are also a myriad of mostly-ethnic storefront churches that dot nearly every block in culturally-rich enclaves across the city’s five boroughs.
“NYC is the melting pot, so it only makes sense for the churches to come together along with the nonprofits,” the Rev. Jordan Durso of Christ Tabernacle in the borough of Queens told The Christian Post. Durso, outreach pastor at his parents’ church, is also executive director of the non-profit Legacy Center.
Durso believes the Luis Palau Association’s CityServe initiative, ongoing in several cities since taking off 8 years ago in mostly liberal and secular Portland, Oregon, should be a model for the entire world.
“I’m excited about the Luis Palau Association coming together, helping us get together, meet other people, other organizations, and get involved with churches… I think that the ripple effect is going to be enormous and people are gonna get helped physically, mentally and of course spiritually, so I’m really excited,” he added.
Kevin Palau, the main brain and momentum behind CityServe, knows there is plenty to be excited about.
“No other entity is embedded into every nook and cranny of the tri-state area like the church,” he told CP prior to NY CityServe’s launch. “Mcdonald’s and Starbucks wish they had the market penetration of the Church.”
Palau, president of the Luis Palau Association, made similar remarks Tuesday morning at the NY CityServe launch service at Calvary Baptist Church in Manhattan. The event was attended by hundreds of local church and nonprofit leaders as well as representatives from the government-led NYC Service, and active and interested laity partnering for long-term outreach. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was unable to attend in person, appeared via a pre-recorded video in which he expressed his wholehearted support for the Christian-led initiative.
His support, like that of leaders in cities like Portland, Houston, San Diego, and others, was won by the CityServe commitment to partner with local governments to simply work to combat homelessness, gang violence, and human trafficking, or to partner with local schools and get involved in foster care systems. There are absolutely no strings attached, explained Palau, who also emphasized that Gospel proclamation would occur separately from service at a later time in an event called CityFest.
“When they see that, that we’re willing to go serve in schools when you can’t preach in schools. That we’re willing to serve and makeover family homeless shelters when that may not be the place to share the Good News,” Palau said of unconditional acts of love being the key to opening people’s hearts. “We have to, I think, earn the right to be heard. We absolutely will share the Good News, I don’t want anyone to be confused about that.” The purpose of CityServe-CityFest has always been “the one-two punch of serving with no strings attached and then joyfully celebrating” what churches are accomplishing together.
Palau added, “I think we’ve turned the corner. I think that leaders like A.R. Bernard and Floyd Flake and Jim Cymbala and Tim Keller and others have become convinced this is maybe a kairos moment, an opportune time to unite the Body — both to serve and to share the Good News for such a time as this.”
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SOURCE: The Christian Post