The Playgoer: What's Up with that "Times Square Church"?

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Monday, April 05, 2010

What's Up with that "Times Square Church"?

Next time you're walking through the theatre district and see that building that looks like a Broadway house but says "Times Square Church" on the marquee, remember it is a church, not some new concept-musical.

And remember that it used to be the gorgeous Art Deco-styled Mark Hellinger theatre.  Michael Riedel recently told the story of what the hell is up with that:

In 1991, the church bought the Hellinger from Nederlander for $17 million and has been conducting services there ever since. The theater has not been home to a Broadway show for 22 years.
Yet Broadway's power brokers still covet it. It is the Holy Grail of Times Square theaters.
"It is the theater to have," says Philip J. Smith, the chairman of the Shubert Organization. "We chased it twice, but the church wouldn't sell..."
Happy Easter guys.  Enjoy God's revenge on our little Sodom and Gomorrah.

The Mark Hellinger Theatre, then...


Anonymous said...

About 10 years ago while I was still living in NYC, someone had invited me to go to the Times Square Church. Around the 3rd time I went there, God told me to run out of that place as fast as my legs could carry me. And the reason for that was that the message I got was that what was going on in that church was mass hysteria in the name of Jesus. Emotional highs and adrenalin kicks with Jesus as the source. So in fact Jesus had become something more like a drug. In any case, it was not my cup of tea at all thank you very much!

The Grabber

John The Evangelist said...

I went there yesterday - awesome art deco - no wonder the theaters want it back. No hysteria - just solid sincere people singing classic contemporary Christian songs and a genuinely humble senior pastor with a very encouraging message. Offering was very low key and their ushers managed to serve communion to 3000 people in under five minutes. In the visitors lounge were people from Paris, Brazil, Nigeria, a d even NYC. I couldn't imagine Jesus telling anyone to run from q place that ministers to the poor and has such international appeal. No politics or cultural baggage. Refreshing.

CM said...

@anonymous: I don't know which "god" spoke to you and let's not even go there but I just wanted to ask you to double check the voice that you think you heard.
I've been going there on and off when I'm in the city and I can't but say that God is in that building:
People are being set free from drugs, alcohol, panic attacks, adultery, fear, pornography, hatred,..etc.
That's all I see every time I go, and no show on Broadway can make a father who abandoned his family go back and reconcile and no money in the world can buy that. Palpable wonders happen in that place. Drug dealers, pimps, criminals, people that even the judicial system couldn't correct, turn around and have changed lives. You don't have to go, just try to stream one of the services and tell me what you think:

Anonymous said...

Funny how the current pastor's wife left him seven years ago (because "God" told her to) to live 330 miles away from NYC, running a Bible school in Scottsdale, PA (where one student committed suicide and another molested his infant cousin - right after graduation). All of this was hushed up, of course. The pastor's wife got an honorary "doctorate" from a degree mill as a 'credential' to partner with a four year degreed Bible university - which is not legal! The pastor has become a multimillionaire over the past 17 years, whereas the poor chumps in the maintenance and security ministries work grueling 10 hour shifts at $10 per hour WITH NO RAISE for fifteen years (until NYC forced minimum wage to $11 per hour last January). Many people who worked there for almost 20 years have been recently fired and forced to sign a gag order with several months' severance pay as the tradeoff. Even Bonnie Wilkerson (daughter of the deceased founding pastor) said on Facebook that her father would roll in his grave if he could see what is going on at Times Square Church now.