Tending a parish in the wake of skyscrapers is no easy task. While in Germany hardly any building tops the church towers, in Manhattan they nearly vanish beneath the gigantic towers of the financial and banking centers. The public perceives hardly any of the 2400 churches of New York. But everyone knows of the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center or Chrysler Building. Only the big, the majestic and flashy strike in New York. Who cares for a vanishing minority of a German congregation in this melting pot of cultures? So - give up?
No! As the church of »St. Paul« we know us obliged to this name. The apostle himself was in no better situation as he fought and worked hard for the future of the young churches in the big cities of his time, like Ephesus or Corinth. Keeping to the center of the church, he repeatedly pointed out Jesus Christ as the only power that overcomes fear and discouragement. A beautiful symbol of this fact is the rose window of our St. Paul's Church, which we picked for the homepage of our internet presence: in the center, the axis, carrying all the weight and burden of a congregation is Jesus. From there it develops in a colored but yet well-ordered variety.
In this sense St. Paul's has been serving the German community in and beyond the city of New York for more than 150 years. Out of the multiple German-speaking churches in Manhattan it is the only one that still offers an entirely German program: Sunday services, counseling, assistance to the elderly and sick and Bible-teaching are the main fields of its work. We count about 260 enrolled members.
Although the typical emigrants from Germany still largely characterize our congregation, the influence of the so-called expatriates has increased in the last years. These Germans working for three, four or five years in the US for large companies, the German school or the Foreign Office are outnumbering the classical immigrants. Another increasing field of service is the support of German tourists who are not only looking for a German but also for a helping and advising hand. A big part of the donations made in Germany in the wake of the terror attacks on the WTC on September 11th, 2001 were channeled via St. Paul's to the victims and needy.
First contacts to the church occur typically when German, or mixed speaking parents, seek the baptism of their children. For the toddlers and children we offer two services, which teach them in Christian beliefs leading to the confirmation at the age of 14. If the kids attend the German School in White Plains they are instructed in religious studies by the pastor. The choir of the German School New York offers a very good possibility to get in touch with our church.
A group of young adults organizes the fellowship for this age. Many couples get married in the wonderful neo-gothic building of the St. Paul's Church. A big melting pot (not only) for German women in New York has always been the women's association »Frauenverein«, which supports the church in both word and deed. The church music in St. Paul's attracts people even from outside the city. Accompanying the elderly and sick members all the way to funeral services is a last service in the love that Jesus bestowed on us.
Tending a foreign speaking congregation in the middle of the fast-moving city of New York, with its hectic, restless and countless possibilities of entertainment and diversion, is not a simple venture. But over the years many individuals, who were driven by the love of Christ, worked bravely and with a huge personal effort and sacrifice to keep St. Paul's alive. Despite the financial support by the EKD (Evangelical Church of Germany) funding the church in the extremely expensive city of New York is a permanent issue. But every member, whether it's a wealthy businessman, or the retired woman, living off a small pension, but crafting lovely greeting cards to sell, all members contribute according to their possibilities preserving the church in the name of our savior.