Since pastor Amy Kienzle took up the helm at Greenpoint’s Lutheran Church of the Messiah, the space has seen a flurry of diverse community activities – playing host to a farmer’s market, an interactive art exhibit, feminist dialogue, dance workshops, and providing temporary respite to the neighborhood’s homeless.
And with the positive response generated from those community events, Kienzle is now shepherding the Church through a transition into a Co-op.
Park Church Co-op, as it will now be known, was made possible through grant funding by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. While the Co-op will continue to operate like a church in the sense that it will continue to offer traditional services, it will also function as a hub for the community, regardless of religious persuasions. And the services too will get creative with Kienzle looking to incorporate sound healing and meditation into some of the offerings at the Church.
“The traditional model just isn’t working anymore, and now it will be more of a spiritual community center,” said Kienzle. “We want this to be a place where the needs of the people are met in new and creative ways and a place where everyone is welcome – whether it be dance groups, or yoga or feeding programs – different ways to bring the community together.”
With the number of groups using the Church, Kienzle thought a Co-op style structure would be the most effective, giving the groups greater involvement with the space and enabling them to create more programming for the community to get involved.
Just last week Punk Rope introduced weekly classes at the Church. This is in addition to the Down to Earth Farmer’s Market that utilizes the basement space during the winters, and Debbie Attias, formerly of the electroclash band Avenue D, hosts her dance-yoga mashup workshop, Dancorcism at the Church every Wednesday night.
“Everybody is so hungry for a connection – people are going to healing centers, doing yoga, but the minute you say Jesus or god you are going to lose a lot of people,” said Attias, who is one of the members of the Co-op. “What Amy [Kienzle] is doing is really smart. She is opening the door for more people to engage in a meaningful way.”
One of the first events to be held under the newly formed Co-op is a vegetarian dinner put together by the folks running the farmer’s market. For just $20, attendees will get a full course dinner featuring an appetizer, an entrée, a dessert, and a drink, not to mention a cooking demonstration by Barry Schwartz from Barry’s Tempeh.
Kienzle hasn’t set an official date for the announcement of the Co-op to the public yet, but the group is in the middle of designing its new website and coming up with a logo, but she hopes to make it official by next Spring.