The Church itself
The Church of the Village is a United Methodist Church, which has a motto that goes by “Open Hearts. Open Minds. Open Doors.” This means that no matter where you are from or who you identify as does not matter in this place of worship, as long as you have in faith. The Church of the Village sticks to this message well. Quoted from the Church’s website:
“Here we celebrate being God’s children in all our diversity. We welcome and celebrate all in our goodness, sinfulness, colors, age, economic statuses, immigration statuses, levels of ability, sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions, heights, weights, styles of dress, and spiritual journeys.”
Even though this can be posed as a figurative saying, open doors at the church of the village is as literal as can be. They welcome homeless people Quoted from the website:
“Our food ministry has two programs. On Tuesdays, we run Daisy’s Food Pantry – open from 1 pm to 3:00 p.m. There, we distribute bags of groceries to individuals and families in need. On Saturdays, we host a community meal from 12 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. and serve hot food to whoever comes through our doors. We invite members of the church to eat with our neighbors from the community. Hope for our Neighbors in Need is one of the most important missions for our church members who see this program as a key to sharing the love of Christ by supporting social justice and community outreach.”
To learn about the history of the church, I reached out to the man with the most knowledge of it, Pastor Jeff. “Methodism originated in Great Britain. Once people came from England and started colonizing America, Methodism slowly spread around the country.” The Church itself was built in 1856, named the Central Methodist Church. It was renamed as Metropolitan Methodist Temple in 1896. After it burned down in 1928, the current neo-Gothic style church was brought back in 1931-32. The Duane Street Methodist Church was absorbed into the congregation in 1939 as the Metropolitan-Duane Methodist Church (Metropolitan-Duane United Methodist Church after 1968). It merged in 2005 with two other United Methodist congregations — Washington Square and All Nations — as the Church of the Village.
The Church has been a place of resource for its people. From the 1980s to early 1990s, the church held a methadone clinic. Youth drug addicts would come in from St. Vincents and be treated at the church. Since 2001, Daisy’s food pantry has grown and expanded from a closet serving 50 people, to today's 1,200 who are in dire circumstances and in need of food and water. The Church of the Village’s message is “Progressive, Radically Inclusive, and Anti-Racist community.” They accept anyone and everyone who enters through their doors with a roof under their heads and a safe environment. Pastor Jeff said that they are working on building spaces for Undocumented Immigrants to have refuge, protecting people for a noble cause.
Our school has a strong connection to the church besides just renting out their gym and kitchen. Each Tuesday of each week, four of the XIIs are sent to help organize shopping carts and distribute food out to families in need. Many former XIIs were changed by their experience with working for the homeless. “I thought it was an excellent opportunity to learn more about the people in our neighborhood/city that we might not interact with otherwise,” said Felix of the XIIIs. “It's not easy work, but I found it to be really rewarding at the end of the day.”
Located next to the church is the LGBTQ community center, and as one of the only churches to truly accept people of all sexualities, the church has good relations with the center, co-sponsoring for the Oscar Wilde temple, celebrating one of the first major advocates for gay liberation. The church has also hosted LGBTQ+ groups such as Black and Pink, an LGBTQ+ prison abolitionist group. Their mission on their website reads as follows: “Black & Pink is an open family of LGBTQ prisoners and “free world” allies who support each other. Our work toward the abolition of the prison industrial complex is rooted in the experience of currently and formerly incarcerated people. We are outraged by the specific violence of the prison industrial complex against LGBTQ people, and respond through advocacy, education, direct service, and organizing.” They also host The Trans Beauty Clinic, a group whose goal is to empower transgender people through hair makeup and grooming.
The Church of the Village has a rich history, and by looking at the work they have done with St Vincents to help youths escape from their drug obsessions, by looking at the work they have done to support people of all appearances and sexualities, and by looking at the work they have done to support those in a financial crisis, they have a rich future as well.