Relocation of Local Church Provides More Space to Grow
April 7, 2010
Members of the Meeting with God Church talk about the new home for their congregation. (2:37)
For 49 years, the Meeting with God Church has been a thriving Pentecostal congregation on West 130th Street in Harlem. But all along, it needed more space to increase its fellowship. Since last October, the church has had a new home and ample space to expand, thanks to a relocation conducted by Columbia.
"We were waiting for many years, looking for a new location, and finally God opened the door through Columbia University," said Reverend Henry Mercado, the church’s pastor.
Columbia helped the congregation identify a new building and relocate its place of worship from its cramped quarters on 131st Street to a larger renovated space on 147th Street and Broadway. The new location has upgraded audio/visual equipment, classrooms and an open sanctuary, as well as the advantage of being on a much livelier stretch of the avenue for pedestrians and shoppers. The relocation was part of the University’s extensive effort to help such organizations and businesses in Manhattanville find alternative or improved space within the local community. The church’s old structure in the Manhattanville manufacturing zone was on the 17 acres that have been rezoned by New York City for “mixed-use educational purposes” and will, over the next several decades, become Columbia’s environmentally sustainable campus expansion.
"This project is very important to us because we are committed to doing the right thing. We've gone the extra mile to help them relocate," said Joe Bolano, director of off-campus real estate development at Columbia University Facilities.
Bolano, along with Yelena Goldenberg, assistant project manager for real estate, worked with the largely Spanish-speaking congregation to better understand and address their needs.
Congregation members say they are settling into their new home, and feel welcomed by the tight-knit community along Broadway, noting that church attendance has increased over the last few months.
"We are very happy to move to a new place, a place that is not in a commercial area like [before]," said congregation member Melton Torres Nuñez, "but a residential area where more souls can come."