Tammy next explored the East Side, coming back through Chinatown and the Lower East Side first. She visited the Primitive Christian Church on East Broadway which has a new ministry to second generation Hispanics. In the 1970s it burned down causing Marcos Rivera to leave his job with IBM to rebuild the church. He was one of the first of the new wave of Hispanic Pentecostal pastors in the city who modernized their cultural church styles. The Lamb’s Church is on Rivington, having moved from Times Square. It features the preaching of Gabriel Salguero from Princeton Theologoical Seminary. (He is also a contributor to A Journey through NYC Religions.)
Far from its days of drugs and violence The East Village now has some of the most interesting evangelical churches in the city including Father’s Heart, Graffiti Church, City Light and Church in the Village.
In the East 20s Tammy found the community serviced-orientated Communitas, the traditional Heritage Baptist Church and the hip sounding Forefront Church. Remnant Presbyterian Church on East 29th Street offers a pan-Asian fellowship that is welcoming to non-Asians. Hillsong NYC holds rockin' services at Irving Plaza.
In the United Nations area First Reformed Episcopal Church has become part of the Anglican Communion of North America. It also houses the Nigerian-orientated Anglican Church of the Pentecost. Tammy found a number of African churches for professionals in the area, some of them with English services, some in French.
She decided to go up to 69th Street to spend a few Sundays at Redeemer Presbyterian Church. Founded in 1989, Redeemer has become the paradigm for Manhattan ministry. Most new church plants have some of Redeemer’s DNA in their culture. Redeemer features the preaching of Tim Keller which led Newsweek to write: “Don't let your mind drift, or you will miss the main attraction. At 9:40, the voice you hear reading from the Scriptures changes suddenly; it becomes deeper, more authoritative and coarser, with traces of Pennsylvania and Georgia in the vowels. Look up. The callow junior minister has disappeared. Standing at the microphone is a man more than six feet tall with a shiny bald head and wire-rim spectacles, looking more like a college professor than a megachurch pastor. This is the Rev. Tim Keller, a Manhattan institution, one of those open urban secrets, like your favorite dim sum place, with a following so ardent and so fast-growing that he has never thought to advertise.” The church has grown to about 5000 attenders.
Tammy thought, “Thirty-five churches and 165 more to choose from! What is Manhattan, the Bible belt?” She couldn’t shake the feeling of wonder, excitement and a sort of laughter about her “I can’t believe this is happening to me” feeling after so many years in a spiritual wilderness. Just like it is hard to communicate to younger New Yorkers how socially and economically down the city was in the 1970s, Tammy found that younger friends couldn’t believe Manhattan wasn’t ever anything but a wonderful “Spiritual Exploration Zone,” with evangelical churches joined by a variety of other new and revitalized faiths.
A closer look by young New Yorkers, Tammy thought, would reveal that Manhattan’s older inhabitants are still pretty secular, huddling up to weather the spiritual storm.
The number of evangelical churches in Manhattan are still far fewer than the number in the outer boroughs. There is one evangelical church for every 5853 Manhattan Center City residents. In comparison there is one evangelical church for every 1371 residents in Washington Heights and 1 evangelical church for every 1377 residents in Flushing, Queens.
The evangelical phenomenon in Manhattan is more often found among young evangelicals who commute both to work and church from homes outside of Manhattan. Only 39% of attenders at evangelical churches in Manhattan actually live in the borough.
With an average church attendance of 443 on a typical Sunday, about 87,271 people attend an evangelical church in Manhattan. Although this represents a tripling since 1990, the numbers are still relatively small.