In light of the anniversary of 9/11 I am reposting this blog from 2012. Since the writing of this blog the River has relocated to a high school in lower Manhattan. “From the sky to the streets” is how they’ve described the move. Same mission, different vantage point.
A few weeks ago I had the privilege of leading worship at a church called the River that meets in lower Manhattan. I’ve known the leadership of this church for a number of years but I’ve never been to their Sunday gatherings.
They currently meet on the 40th floor of the newly rebuilt 7 World Trade Center in the main auditorium for the New York Academy of Sciences.
The River is a doing a wonderful work among the people of Manhattan and is thriving in a culture that is perhaps one of the most secular in the US.
Here’s their mission statement:
Planted in the heart of Manhattan, the River is a diverse church that welcomes New Yorkers of all backgrounds. Our goal is to create a warm & inviting space where we can connect to God and each other to pursue life in all its fullness.
The views from their main auditorium are unbelievable. Out the window to the left looking from the stage you look uptown into the heart of Manhattan with the Empire State Building in center frame. Out of the window to the right you get the East River, Brooklyn Bridge, and on the horizon the blue rim of the Atlantic Ocean.
The views are breathtaking for sure but I was moved at a much deeper level. As we poured out our hearts to God I was struck by the power of what we were doing. We were literally inviting the Kingdom of God into the heart of New York City and asking for His Kingdom breakthrough over the city – literally while we overlook much of Manhattan.
Going a little deeper, the original 7 World Trade Center was destroyed in the events of 9/11 and when the new 7 World Trade Center was completed in 2006 it was the first tower rebuilt at Ground Zero after the attacks. On this site of incredible devastation, on what maybe the deepest wound in American spirit there is a community of faith that meets every week asking for the Kingdom of God to come and bring healing and mercy and make things right.
As I stood on the stage looking uptown at the Empire State building I was deeply moved by this reality. On this day of remembrance I remember my time on the 40th floor of 7 World Trade Center. I remember that “Mercy triumphs over Judgement” and I say a prayer of thanks for The River church as they weekly minister God’s healing power on the site of such tragedy. God bless their work!!