Megacity New York: home for people from all over the world
New York City is known for its diversity. As the gate to the New World the city has welcomed immigrants from all over the world for decades. It has become the home for people of many different cultures, languages, backgrounds, and traditions.
New York City is huge and cosmopolitan. Millions of people live here, distributed over a relatively small land area. The city that never sleeps is the largest in the USA and has a significant impact on commerce and finance. More than eight million people live in the city, another eleven million in the areas around it. Metropolitan New York is huge. Some fifty million people come here every year and enjoy the luxury of its sights and its lifestyle. This, however, also has its price: New York City is one of the most expensive places in the world.
Working in the city, living in the suburbs
This diversity is also reflected in the New Apostolic congregations. As in many cities around the world, real estate in the downtown areas is costly. For this reason, very few members live in these areas and, therefore, most of the congregations in New York are located outside the centre of the city, in other boroughs and on Long Island or in neighbouring New Jersey.
After transitions and mergers over the years, there are seven congregations in the five boroughs of New York City and four congregations on Long Island. These congregations include Chinatown in the borough of Manhattan; Flushing, Astoria, Hollis, and Rosedale in Queens; Brooklyn in the Bronx; and Bethpage, Suffolk, Woodbury, and Long Island- Spanish on Long Island. All have their own distinct identity.
- The Chinatown, Flushing, and Bethpage congregations are made up of mostly Chinese-speaking members. Both the Chinatown and Flushing congregations are in rental quarters. Chinatown supports the city’s Rescue Mission, a non-profit organisation that provides help to the hungry and homeless. The congregation is centrally located and is a popular destination for members from abroad coming to New York City for school, work, or a holiday. The divine services in the Flushing congregation are primarily in Chinese, with some English for the children and the youth in the congregation. Bethpage, a flagship congregation dedicated in 2016, was a merger between the Amityville and Westbury Chinese congregations. The church building used to be a synagogue before it became a worship centre, which primarily houses our congregation’s members, but is also open to other religious groups and activities. The divine services here are held in English and are simultaneously interpreted into Chinese.
- In 2014, the Ridgewood congregation merged with Astoria into their current building, which the church has owned since the 1920s. However, with more members, extra sanctuary space was needed. An addition was added onto the building and was dedicated just a few months ago. The congregation has German roots and services there used to be held in German and English. Over the years, the congregation has grown to include Spanish-speaking members so that Spanish is occasionally used in divine service.
- The congregation in the Bronx has been in existence since the 1950s and is currently in a building that has been owned by the church since the late 1990s. Initially, the membership was largely of German background. In the early to mid 1980s, there was an influx of South-East Asian members. Currently, the membership is comprised of people from over a dozen different countries, including various nations in Africa and the Caribbean.
- Brooklyn congregation is a mostly English-speaking congregation, with many members from Caribbean nations, as well as African-Americans and some recent immigrants from Africa. For the last five years, they have also held services in French, transitioning more recently to Creole for members who come from Haiti. They gather for services in the upstairs of the Brooklyn building.
- The congregation in Hollis is largely of Guyanese origins, along with members from other Caribbean nations. Although many different ethnicities make up this congregation, services are held in English. This also applies to the congregations in Rosedale and Suffolk. Rosedale’s members are mostly of Guyanese and Caribbean origins, along with Haitian members. Occasionally, services are interpreted into Haitian Creole.
- Woodbury is one of the flagship congregations of the New Apostolic Church USA. The new building was dedicated in 2014. This congregation is made up of the former Bayside, Uniondale, and Dix Hills congregations. Some members also came from the St James congregation. Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider celebrated a divine service in Woodbury on 14 June 2015. The Long-Island Spanish congregation also makes use of the Woodbury worship space. This congregation started as a Spanish mission in Brentwood, New York, and now meets in the small sanctuary space of the Woodbury building. They meet most Sundays and their services are held entirely in Spanish. Occasionally, they join the Woodbury congregation for service on Sunday.
These eleven congregations alone are a cross-section of the ethnic and cultural diversity of New York. They paint a picture of what the city is like, a vibrant place filled with people from many different backgrounds and walks of life.