Playhouse 91, a 299-seat theater, was built in 1980 in a former stable and ice house. It hosted various theater companies over the years staging productions such as Arthur Miller’s After the Fall, Spook House, A Bronx Take, and The Syringa Tree. Some notable actors who performed there are Harvey Fierstein, Chaz Palminteri, and Frank Langella. Menopause, The Musical, Playhouse 91’s last production, ran for four years.
So what’s coming to the neighborhood? A little research on the New York City Department of Finance site shows that the playhouse was owned by “316 E. 91 Street Corp.” and was mortgaged at least once, but as of April 2007 the deed has now been transferred to the “Full Gospel New York Church – Assemblies of God”.
The church currently operates a branch at 13030 31st Ave. in Flushing, Queens, New York under senior Pastor Nam Soo Kim. Although in April the New York Times reported that the church claimed it would continue to lease the space as a theater, today I spoke to two church employees on the phone who informed me that a Full Gospel New York Church branch will open in the 91st Street space in February 2008 in order to house the Manhattan congregation which is temporarily based in Midtown. They will still maintain their congregation in Flushing.
Assemblies of God, of which Full Gospel New York Church is a member, describes itself on its website as Pentecostal and Evangelical. According to Wikipedia it is the largest Pentecostal denomination in the world. Thanks to an aggressive mission campaign it has over 200,000 churches across the world with locations in North, Central, and South America, Africa, Asia, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. More than 12,000 of their churches are in The United States.
Listed here are the sixteen non-negotiable tenets of faith , or “fundamental truths” which all member churches must adhere to, taken from the Assemblies of God website.
- WE BELIEVE…The Scriptures are Inspired by God and declare His design and plan for mankind.
- WE BELIEVE…There is only One True Godâ€“revealed in three persons…Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (commonly known as the Trinity).
- WE BELIEVE…In the Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. As God’s son Jesus was both human and divine.
- WE BELIEVE…though originally good, Man Willingly Fell to Sinâ€“ushering evil and death, both physical and spiritual, into the world.
- WE BELIEVE…Every Person Can Have Restored Fellowship with God Through ‘Salvation’ (accepting Christ’s offer of forgiveness for sin). [1 of 4 cardinal doctrines of the A/G]
- WE BELIEVE…and practice two ordinancesâ€”(1) Water Baptism by Immersionafter repenting of one’s sins and receiving Christ’s gift of salvation, and (2) Holy Communion (the Lord’s Supper) as a symbolic remembrance of Christ’s suffering and death for our salvation.
- WE BELIEVE…the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is a Special Experience Following Salvationthat empowers believers for witnessing and effective service, just as it did in New Testament times. [1 of 4 cardinal doctrines of the A/G]
- WE BELIEVE… The Initial Physical Evidence of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is â€˜Speaking in Tongues,â€™ as experienced on the Day of Pentecost and referenced throughout Acts and the Epistles.
- WE BELIEVE…Sanctification Initially Occurs at Salvation and is not only a declaration that a believer is holy, but also a progressive lifelong process of separating from evil as believers continually draw closer to God and become more Christlike.
- WE BELIEVE…The Church has a Mission to seek and save all who are lost in sin. We believe ‘the Church’ is the Body of Christ and consists of the people who, throughout time, have accepted God’s offer of redemption (regardless of religious denomination) through the sacrificial death of His son Jesus Christ.
- WE BELIEVE…A Divinely Called and Scripturally Ordained Leadership Ministry Serves the Church. The Bible teaches that each of us under leadership must commit ourselves to reach others for Christ, to worship Him with other believers, and to build up or edify the body of believersâ€“the Church.
- WE BELIEVE…Divine Healing of the Sick is a Privilege for Christians Today and is provided for in Christ’s atonement (His sacrificial death on the cross for our sins). [1 of 4 cardinal doctrines of the A/G]
- WE BELIEVE…in The Blessed Hopeâ€”When Jesus Raptures His Church Prior to His Return to Earth (the second coming). At this future moment in time all believers who have died will rise from their graves and will meet the Lord in the air, and Christians who are alive will be caught up with them, to be with the Lord forever. [1 of 4 cardinal doctrines of the A/G]
- WE BELIEVE…in The Millennial Reign of Christ when Jesus returns with His saints at His second coming and begins His benevolent rule over earth for 1,000 years. This millennial reign will bring the salvation of national Israel and the establishment of universal peace.
- WE BELIEVE…A Final Judgment Will Take Place for those who have rejected Christ. They will be judged for their sin and consigned to eternal punishment in a punishing lake of fire.
- WE BELIEVE…and look forward to the perfect New Heavens and a New Earththat Christ is preparing for all people, of all time, who have accepted Him. We will live and dwell with Him there forever following His millennial reign on Earth. ‘And so shall we forever be with the Lord!’
The Full Gospel New York Church conducts services in Korean and English. I am unsure just how many Upper East Side residents will be attending church at the new building or sending their kids to Sunday school there.
In October of 2006 the Mormon church opened an impressively large Gothic-style building on East 87th Street. Immediately in attendance were two wards of church members living on The U.E.S. who had previously had to travel to the West side for services.