NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Members in dozens of small New York City churches are looking for new places to hold services, in light of the ban on using public school space for that purpose.
Abounding Grace Ministries’ congregants gathered Sunday with heavy hearts at P.S. 34 on the Lower East Side for their final service at the site, even though they’ve been doing it for years.
“I am emotional, I am disappointed, because this is my family,” Lydia Sotomayor told CBS 2’s Ann Mercogliano.
The Manhattan Bible Church in Inwood is not affected, but their pastor Bill Devlin Is fasting in protest, living on just hot water for 40 days. He’s on day 26.
“Today is E-Day. It’s eviction day,” he said. “We are taking this monstrosity of religious intolerance very, very seriously.”
The New York City Department of Education is defending the court ruling. A spokesperson says the view is that public school buildings, which are funded by taxpayers dollars, should not be used as houses of worship or to subsidize worship.
This policy has been challenged and upheld by the Appeals Court, and the NYCLU agrees.
“The New York City Department of Education has made the right decision,” said Donna Lieberman.
For now, Abounding Grace has secured a temporary residence. After that, they may be out of options.
“We’re maintaining a positive faith, because we believe God has a plan for us,” said Pastor Rick Del Rio.
Next Sunday, members of various congregations say they’ll gather anywhere they can find space , whether it be off-Broadway stages, community centers or even the sidewalk.
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