The Oldest Active Christian Congregation in America Finds a New Home — in a Synagogue
Middle Collegiate Church, in the East Village of New York City, organized in 1628, was the oldest of all continuously active congregations in America until December 2020.
That’s when faulty wiring from a vacant building next door gutted the historic structure with a six-alarm fire. Fortunately, the fire spared the steeple and façade along with New York’s historic Liberty Bell whose ringing proclaimed the birth of America in 1776.
While the congregation is determined to rebuild, this Easter, with pandemic restrictions eased, senior minister Rev. Jacqui Lewis went in search for a home for their Easter Sunday service.
That’s when East End Temple’s Rabbi Joshua Stanton reached out to the congregation to share their sacred space with their parishioners while they rebuild. As he told Associated Press April 15, “It was very clear when the tragedy fell on Middle Collegiate Church that we needed to live out our values, open our doors.”
Attendance in the 190-person temple was capped at 150. And those leading the service, along with choir singers and musicians, were tested and all were negative for COVID-19.
“…It just felt like a revolutionary thing to do, to partner with our Jewish colleagues in this way,” Lewis said in an interview with Religion News Service, which also reported, “the synagogue dropped two-thirds of its usual rental price for the arrangement and then a donor paid most of the third that was left. Lewis said that amounts to about $16,000 for the first year, ‘so basically it’s a gift.’”