New York City can sometimes be a tough place for social conservatives to find sympathy for their beliefs. This is a lesson that The Gallery Church learned all too well when the house of worship says it was booted out of a local restaurant following sermons about same-sex attraction.
The church claims it was evicted from the space, which it has rented for $25,000 each year, following numerous complaints from those living in the surrounding area. The incident was discussed, in detail, on Gallery's blog.
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"This particular sermon series struck a nerve in the neighborhood. There was an enormous amount of backlash," Pastor Freddy Wyatt told conservative commentator Todd Starnes. "We don't know specifically what that was. The restaurant said if it had only been a couple of phone calls it would have been one thing -- but it was more than that."
In addition to the annual fees to rent the space, the church has also paid the restaurant's sound engineer and has regularly provided business to the establishment.
On the church's blog, Wyatt summed it up and provided even more details about what unfolded:
Our church was recently forced out of our worship space for preaching a sermon about same sex attraction. [...]
After only meeting in our new space for a couple of months, we were asked to leave. The restaurant that was hosting us had received significant backlash from the neighborhood for hosting a Christian church in their space. The backlash came before the sermon was even preached yet was enough to motivate the restaurant to end their partnership with us. We were renting their space for $25K on the year, paying their sound tech $150 a Sunday, and averaged about 10 people eating every Sunday at their restaurant that opened right after our worship service ended. Yet, disassociating from a Christian church was more valuable to them.
Employees of the restaurant were struck by the kindness of my tone as I shared the news with our church. Our church was sobered by the persecution and responded with grace and gratitude. We were not interested in creating some sort of firestorm, instead, many were immediately hopeful to see how God would provide. Additionally, I've been prayerful that our personal witnesses are being emboldened as a fruitful result.
We were given a short two months to find a new space. Not an easy task. Yet in God's gracious providence, we found a new space that meets our needs better than we were willing to imagine.
As the pastor shared, the church has found a new location, but it costs $15,000 more per year than what they were paying at the previous spot -- a tough increase, especially for a growing church in an expensive city.
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Gallery Church declined to name the restaurant, as Wyatt didn't want to make further problems. But Starnes claims that he learned that the space was being rented at Hill Country Barbecue in Manhattan.
Despite the church's plight at the location, Wyatt said he still plans to eat there, because he loves his neighbors and he loves "good food."
TheBlaze called the restaurant and left a message for Marc Glosserman, founder and CEO of Hill Country Hospitality, to learn more about what unfolded. We have not yet received a response.
(H/T: Todd Starnes)
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