New Worshiping Community Started by Dwindling Congregation Creates Hope
In Manhattan, a new worshiping community is being formed, thanks to members of a nearly 140-year-old church who have taken seriously the belief that all God’s people are holy.
The members of Jan Hus Presbyterian Church had always been eager to invite the most marginalized people in the city. But the congregation had dwindled in numbers, down to fewer than 12 worshipers.
Even so, the church’s pastor, Beverly Dempsey, says the remaining faithful “had the bones to do something new.”
Jan Hus was still serving a weekly meal to an outreach population on Tuesday evenings, where 110 to 150 people would show up. “We thought, Why not move worship to Tuesdays, when people are available,” says Dempsey, “recognizing it’s the people who are holy, and not the day.”
Now that Neighborhood Esperanza has been launched, Dempsey says nearly 50 homeless or sheltered men and women—along with approximately 15 people from Manhattan’s Upper East Side—gather for worship every Tuesday evening.
Dempsey believes the turnout is an indication that so many people are feeling the depths of poverty. Not just the poverty of having no money, but true poverty of spirit, of neglect and the sense that nobody cares, which Neighborhood Esperanza seeks to overcome.
“We see God’s beloved kingdom magnified,” Dempsey says of the service that is now in English and Spanish. “People of every color of the rainbow all worshiping and caring for one another in a true, just community. When I leave this place on Tuesday night, my life is transformed because of these people.
“It’s so exciting.”
Paul Seebeck, Communications Strategist, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Let us join in prayer for:
Rev. Dr. Robert Foltz-Morrison, Executive Presbyter
Rev. C. Anderson James, Stated Clerk
Yzette Swavy-Lipton, Executive Administrator/Office Manager
James Tse, Controller/Technology Officer
Shirley Fleming, Administrative Assistant
Peter Moore, Property Support Consultant
Rev. Derrick McQueen, Moderator
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Let us pray
Look with compassion, O God, upon those who feel that they are beyond the reach of your love or outside your limitless mercy. May we follow Christ and show his love toward those the world despises and rejects. Amen.