NEW YORK (BP)–The North American Mission Board’s “New Hope New York” outreach effort was the focus of a front-page story in The New York Times Feb. 15. The Times, with a Sunday circulation of more than 1.6 million, is widely regarded as one of the nation’s most influential newspapers.
The article profiles several of the new churches being started under the effort, as well as the broader goals of Southern Baptists for impacting the cities through NAMB’s Strategic Focus Cities initiative.
Much of the emphasis is placed on The Four One One Church in Midtown Manhattan and church planter Scott Rourk, who is working to impact the entertainment district with the Gospel.
“To the thousands of out-of-work actors milling through Backstage magazine’s annual trade show in a Times Square hotel last November, Scott Rourk offered a little uplift,” the article reads.
“‘We are a spiritual group, reaching out to artists and actors in New York, to help people in practical ways,’ he told anyone who would listen, handing out 10-minute prepaid phone cards with the label ‘the 411’ [standing for 1 Peter 4:11] and a phone number. ‘We help you find meaning in life when the auditions aren’t coming and the bills are,’ he said.”
Also highlighted are the challenges facing Southern Baptists in New York, both from the predominant secular culture and the potential “hostility” from other faith groups.
Dave Howard, city coordinator for New Hope New York, said the article should be helpful in raising the awareness of what Southern Baptists are doing in New York.
“We’re seen as a group of Christians that are simply wanting to bring the love of Christ to a city. And I think that’s positive,” he said.
Gary Frost, director of missions for the Metropolitan New York Baptist Association, said he thought the article offered a balanced perspective.
“I think they see us as trying to grow the denomination more than expand the Kingdom, but at least they recognized that we’re here and wanting to have a positive impact on the community,” he said. “… We’re about sharing the love of Jesus Christ.”
New York is the eighth city to be impacted since 2000 through the Strategic Focus Cities initiative, an effort to concentrate Southern Baptist resources and volunteers on church planting and evangelism efforts in major cities. As of late January, 301 churches had been planted through the efforts, 36,865 volunteers have been mobilized and 47,080 individuals have made professions of faith in Christ.
The article is available online for a limited time at www.nytimes.com, although a free registration process is required. The direct link is http://www.nytimes.com/2004/02/15/national/15BAPT.html.