The Rev. Winnie Varghese
St. Mark's in the Bowery
New York City
Cast your vote for queer positive, women positive, youth, men, baby and everyone else positive, healthy, progressive, diverse and fun church today. St. Mark's Church in the Bowery is one of 40 contestants in an online contest sponsored by Partners in Preservation to give away $3 million of preservation funds in New York City.
St. Mark's is a progressive, welcoming (church speak for LGBTQI friendly) racially diverse, high energy, soulful congregation. In a time of decline, we are growing and growing fast. Why? Because we believe we have some good news to share, particularly for those who have felt beaten up by the church for who they are, simply because they want to follow Jesus. If that's you, you're right, Christianity needs you.
St. Mark's doesn't have endowment funds or income properties. We survive and thrive on the donations of people who believe in our mission, and we rent out our spaces to wonderful arts partners: Danspace, The Poetry Project and Incubator Arts.
I've been working at St. Mark's for three years. We are testing the idea that if we celebrate the Gospel of Jesus Christ as it is manifest in The Episcopal Church by taking seriously the bold decisions The Episcopal Church has made in my lifetime (the last 40 years), we will grow. Those decisions include: bold financial commitments to the Civil Rights Movement, the ordination of women, sensible teaching on birth control and reproductive choice, the full inclusion of gay and lesbian persons in all orders of ministry, celebrating same sex marriage in jurisdictions where same sex marriage is legal, and sporting the finest liturgy (worship) known to Christianity in the West in a vast array of styles with heart and soul.
If you want to support that kind of church, or even just the idea of that kind of church in a fine building established on the graves of some of your history book's favorites: Peter Stuyvesant, Daniel Tompkins and Admiral William Perry. If you want the next Patti Smith to have a stage when she needs one, the next Allen Ginsburg, Merce Cunningham, Isadora Duncan, W.H. Auden, Kahlil Gibran, Amiri Baraka, Sam Shephard or Pauli Murray to produce and perform art and fight for justice from this beautiful space, then support St. Mark's. We don't know why so many lovers of art and liberation walk through our doors, but they do and they will.
If we are awarded a grant, it will be used to restore the glorious old cast iron portico that frames our front entrance. Some say these buildings are albatross around our necks. I think this particular one is a testament to the human spirit. If you value those things, we could use your vote, (we can remind you here) daily through May 21.