‘The Pastor Is In’ on West 96th Avenue

Posted on April 14, 2021 at 10:15 am by West Sider


Ready for the pastor in entrance of 2nd Presbyterian Church.

By Susanne Beck

Like most sanctuaries in New York, the Next Presbyterian Church on West 96th Avenue, just off Central Park West, was pressured to take its programming on line when COVID-19 shut down the town past March.

But virtual ministering wasn’t slicing it for the church’s interim pastor, Lindsay Borden — or additional importantly, she felt, for her parish. When the temperature turned warm past summer, she commenced to give social gatherings for parishioners in the park on random Saturdays as a way to reconnect in a safe, socially distant way. However, in keeping with a church community pledge to get to out to unaffiliated neighbors, she felt termed to do extra.

“I was like, no one particular knows we are here,” she explains. “The church is not truly shut. The constructing is shut. The church is nonetheless below. I preferred to allow the neighborhood know that. And I also preferred to enable the neighborhood know that we had been thinking of them, you know, that we cared about them.”

So Reverend Borden, in her 60’s, turned to her early artistic training – in the theater (actor and director) and the large-end culinary arts – and improvised.

She is still not sure in which she got the strategy, but in months, “The Pastor is ‘In’” booth – the non secular equal of Lucy Van Pelt’s individual generation – was born. By early August, Reverend Borden experienced stationed herself as soon as a 7 days, in a chair by a compact table, on the sidewalk, just to the facet the church’s vibrant purple doorway. The indicator on the flip chart stated it all: the pastor was in and prayers had been out there for “$0”.

Reverend Borden diligently positioned her station to be as obvious as possible which was tricky supplied the seemingly permanent scaffolding that has lined aspect of the block considering that she started her task in 2018. “It’s horrible,” she claims about the unwelcome shroud. “I think we now have the file for the longest scaffolding in New York Town. Except if a person is sitting at a desk out entrance expressing the pastor is in, you just can’t explain to!”

Many of individuals who stopped and took a seat upcoming to the flipboard indicator in the next months were not aspect of the church’s 60-member congregation. They simply desired to pray for pals or family members or just in normal – not shocking specified the anxiety that COVID experienced introduced into pretty much everyone’s lives. “Sometimes I would sit there for an hour and no 1 would quit,” Reverend Borden suggests. “I felt it did not matter. I was there. They would ask for pictures. They would say thank you as they moved on. One particular girl waved and said, ‘I’m Jewish!’ And I claimed, ‘that’s okay. I’m however praying for you!’”

The booth stayed open, as soon as a week, through Election Day. “I produced a position of getting there the week ahead of the presidential election,” Reverend Borden describes. “People were really tense, and I felt that it was important to be there.”

For the duration of that time, most people today questioned for prayers “for a superior outcome.” “I did not check with them what they intended by that,” the minister claims. “But I assume I understood. And people prayers worked seemingly!” Reverend Borden recollects with satisfaction.

The booth was shut for the duration of the wintertime months – but only temporarily. With the thermometer heading northward, Reverend Borden has returned to her sidewalk perch most Wednesday afternoons between 3 and 5 p.m. She is excited to be again, and to reconnect with the West Side neighborhood that passes by.

“It’s been ridiculous,” she suggests now of the past 18 months. But alongside with her proverbial flock, she remains dedicated to achieving out to neighbors, to knowing their demands, and buoying their psychological lives at this demanding time. A chair and an surprising invitation to cease and chat on West 96th could be just the way to start out.