Does Anyone Really Care if a Small Urban UMC burns down? It looks like the neighborhood cares.

I saw this headline in the New York Times yesterday, “Next Rubble of Queens Church, A Service.”

Turns out Maspeth United Methodist Church burned down last week.  The article called the church “a nexus of community life” but also added:

But the future is uncertain. The congregation has shrunk over the years, with only 20 churchgoers in attendance on a typical Sunday. (“The choir is half the congregation,” said Jessica Thompson Falla, 27, a chorister and preschool teacher.) Moreover, the longtime pastor, the Rev. Avelio de Leon, is set to retire at the end of June, although a new pastor, Eumin Kim, has already been named.

It’s sad that the church burned down but it it is also just as sad that we let churches like Maspeth get so small.  We are talking about a church in the largest American city and we can only get 20 people out on a Sunday.  Ouch.

But it gets more interesting.  t seems though that this church and neighborhood are in the middle of a gentrification battle.  For more information about this church, check out the comments section on the blog post about Maspeth UMC on Queens Crap.

Here is one commenter:

“How much pain and suffering must Maspeth endure? “Lightning”? Developer’s lightning maybe! Did Tommy Huang have his eye on that site?”

Here is another piece of dialogue from the commenters:

Why do these churches always get burnt down in the wee hours of the night? same thing with the church in Woodside on 61st Street and 38th avenue

Anonymous said…  Because developers’ guilty consciences keep them up at night!”

If United Methodists are truly Rethinking Church as our advertising is telling us, then Maspeth UMC sounds like a place to make a stand and rethink church.  Sounds like Maspeth needs all the help it can get before the working class community there gets pushed out by developers.

Lets hope that we have the courage to rebuild Maspeth and the courage to grow it into a postive force for the community that resist the force of gentrification.

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