The New York Christian Coalition is calling on at least 300 churches in New York to observe the anniversary of 9/11 by gathering in their local churches to discuss social problems. The new initiative, "Second Sunday," came out of Justice Sunday, which Executive Director Reverend Bill Banuchi, believes did much to educate churchgoers.
Second Sunday will be an opportunity for local congregations to gather once a month on a Sunday evening - a time that many churches were closing their worship services anyway - and learn about the "God's stance" on social issues of the day.
Banuchi hopes that Christians can be informed about laws and be motivated to participate in government.
"We're concerned about the issues that are important from the Christian perspective," he said, "such as the role of the Supreme Court, pro-life issues, preserving biblical marriage, and public education."
The problem, according to Banuchi, is congregations oftentimes don't get involved because of lack of knowledge in the issues.
Some churches have made it a policy not to be involved in anything political, including initiatives that may center around a "political day."
Times Square Church spokesperson, Luly McCoy, said, "Our church doesn't intend to be political. We are focused on Jesus Christ and his Word, and through that, all things flow. The Bible says seek God first and all the things will be gathered unto you. This is a church that prays for the city and for the people."
The church with 2,000 congregants has decided to sidestep the day altogether, but will continue their ministries as usual. However, they have set plans for the entire congregation to fast from solid foods for three weekdays before 9/11, on Sept. 6-8.
Rev. Banuchi said churchgoers can also meet to learn about the local issues plaguing their city and talk local legislators who will help them be more active in local government.
"After all, if we can get good people elected to office, hopefully, well have less to worry about concerning bad laws.
The Reverend N. J. L'Heureux, Jr., director of the Queens Federation of Churches, an ecumenical body that encompasses over 700 Christian congregations in Queens, N.Y. said he would rather not comment on how he feels about Second Sunday's political stance because the issues are potentially divisive and congregations do not all agree.
The ecumenical body does, however, get involved in local legal concerns that affect all churches. Recently, they opposed a new parking regulation that allows meters to operate on Sundays and won't allow vehicles to be parked for more than one hour.
Churchgoers can't attend service on Sundays without getting up from their seat at least once, and sometimes even twice, said Rev. L'Heureux. In addition, the law states they're not allowed to be parked for more than an hour, making attending church quite difficult for those who drive.
The New York Christian Coalition understands that churches are going to be "reluctant."
"We know that not everyone will get involved, but those churches that feel a stirring might," said Banuchi. "We're thinking this might be a slow growth thing as churches catch on."
When asked why some churches would rather not be involved in political matters, he said, "It's a matter of trends. We've got into the trend of salvation and holiness and personal relationship with Christ, which is great, but we've let go of the social gospel."
"The challenge is to come back to the center. We've been to the extreme, but now I think we've gone the other way, and emphasized the personal gospel at the expense of our social responsibilities."
New York Christian Coalition is a local branch of the national Christian Coalition. His response is in line with the National Association of Evangelicals, which convened in Washington, D.C., on Mar. 10, 2005 for an informal discussion designed to encourage greater civic participation among evangelicals.