Mario has come back from Italy. What’s going on here has captured his interest and he believes that something special could happen here. Jeremy G, who’s keeping the flame burning here locally, is a key part of the conversation as well. We head down the street to Flor de Mayo which gives me the opportunity to tell Mario all about the Cuban-Chinese community that once flourished here on the Upper West Side. And how members of First Chinese Havana were part of the original Iglesia Presbteriana de West-Park 50 years ago.
Nirka and her husband Gregorio were part of that community. Greg had been part of Mao’s revolution and then fled to Cuba and joined Castro’s revolution. When reeducation loomed, he made off to New York City. Nirka and her children consider themselves both Asian and Latino in as much as their language is Spanish. Most of the restaurants with Comidas Criollas y Chinas are now gone. But Flor de Mayo continues even though it’s famous pollo a la brasa is now under the direction of a Peruvian chef.
We jump back into the issue of new spiritual communities. Mario still has his interest in connectng with existing communities and their capacities, especially St.Augustine’s in the Bronx with their garifono community, descendants of Arawak Indians and African slaves. He brings up Redeemer Presbyterian, but I direct him away not wanting to get into a long discussion of stand alone churches accountable only to themselves and closed to the leadership of not only lgbtq folks but women as well.
I’m interested in having the open choir sing with us in worship. Jeremy responds that most may not be interested in anything related to the church. My point exactly, I say. And I talk about how those from the over 50% in this neighborhood describing themselves as nonaffiiated and the thousands of them as spiritual but not religious.
It is they I am concerned about. The came to Mario’s open choir because they sought connection. The growing sense of community brought them back. And I want them to conceive of a local based community continuing even without work center presence. Praxis, not product, not branding. And I want to help the community come into being, to have people understand the connection between experience and prophetic action, and the service of others. Whether they call it Christian or not I don’t care. Mario and I, each with our own individual spiritual communities, have insites , resources to lend to the project. So we agree to continue the conversation and include Katherine and her questioning as well. Along the way we pick up a few strands of Freirian pedagogical precis and education for critical consciousness principles. Their connection with Liberation theology. And the overarching issue of context.
We walk up the street excited about what could happen next.
* * * *
Mitchell is looking for a breaker box, the lights have gone out. I show him the other breaker box that comtrols the church house. Somewhere along the line, RL loses his Internet.