brooklyn bridge, christian population, church congregations, city churches, First Amendment, Freedom of Religion, Heavenly Vision Christian Center, Infinity Church, john jay high school, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, NYC Churches, park slope, Park Slope Presbyterian Church, protest, public school, the Body of Christ, worship ban
By Efrem Graham
News Anchor & Reporter
January 30, 2012
More than 60 church congregations hold services inside a New York City public school each Sunday. Many, however, may soon find themselves without a place to worship. The city’s Department of Education is set to evict the estimated 17,000 people in just two weeks because of a policy banning worship services in public schools.
New York City churches are uniting to urge their lawmakers to reverse the ban. More than a thousand churchgoers rallied against the measure Sunday, marching from the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan and on to City Hall.
“This march is an opportunity for the Body of Christ to come together and demonstrate to New York City what it will look like if you kick 17,000 people out of their churches,” Dimas Salaberrios, pastor of Infinity Church, said.
“The Body of Christ is constantly taking hits,” he continued. “We mobilize for earthquakes. We mobilize for disasters, but we just allow ourselves to take all these black eyes without doing something about it.” “We are Christians. This is something we can do that God is okay with,” he said.
One of the demonstrators, Pastor Sal Sabino of Heavenly Vision Christian Center, urged Mayor Michael Bloomberg to step up to the plate and defend the city’s Christian population.
“Mayor, you know that we have over 60 congregations that will be homeless as of February 12, 2012,” Sabino said. “We know you know. You are our mayor, and we love you. But you have the power to stop this.”
“We never thought it would come to this,” Matt Brown, pastor of Park Slope Presbyterian Church, said. “But we also thought that if it ever did, it was (still) worth our time renting at John Jay High School.” The march kicks off a critical week for these congregations. The state legislature could take up a measure this week, reversing the policy that now bans worship services in public schools.