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Tuesday 20 April |

Trump effect?: Progressive New York City churches say they’re seeing more people in the pews since election

Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 04/06/17

Details:

Feeling depressed after the election, Caitlin Reller decided to heed the advice of a friend and go to church. Both of Reller’s parents are ministers — her dad in the United Church of Christ, her mom in the Presbyterian tradition — but the Greenpoint arts educator hadn’t been to church in her adult life, the 33-year-old said. She was intrigued by the “socially-aware and tolerant” Middle Collegiate Church in the East Village, so she brought her 5- and 3-year-old daughters the Sunday after the election. They’ve continued going nearly every week, officially joining as members this month. “It was incredible,” Reller said. “The music and poetry readings — it’s an experience. I just feel inspired and moved. What’s nice, because they have ‘wee care,’ I can drop off my youngest in the nursery, and my oldest can go to ‘the ark’ — the Sunday school — where it tends to be about this overarching theme of love, loving your neighbor and taking care of the planet. And I can sit in the service and not have to worry about being a mom and just focus.” The lure of religious services, especially among the city’s progressive houses of worship, has been strong post-election, with many faith leaders reporting significant bumps in attendance. They’ve also seen an increase in participation of workshops, study groups and other volunteer activities. It marks a significant shift for New York, which has not been a particularly strong state when it comes to attending weekly worship services. Only 29 percent of New Yorkers reported attending services at least weekly, according to a February 2016 report from the Pew Research Center, which placed the state 42 out of 50 for attending weekly services. …The Sunday after the election was packed at Middle Church, forcing worshippers into an overflow room usually only needed on Easter — and the crowds keep coming. There’s been a 33 percent increase in attendance consistently since November, and virtual worshippers, watching online, increased by about the same, the Rev. Jacqui Lewis said.

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Photo: Middle Collegiate Church

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