Sometimes I’m tempted to think that churches are no longer countries for young people, and then a story like this one give me hope. Perhaps the “Skinny Jeans” angle explains why it was carried in the NYT’s style section, but no matter. MP+
November 2, 2011
A Congregation in Skinny Jeans
By MARISA MELTZER
ONE recent Sunday night on the south side of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, a crowd of more than 100 men and women in their 20s and early 30s gathered.
True to the unspoken dress code of the neighborhood, they were wearing high-waisted skinny jeans, vintage T-shirts and deliberately homely sweaters. One woman in a floral romper, her platinum-blond hair cut in a shag, carried a Bob Seger vinyl record under her arm. After a gospel band played, the group listened as a man with a tattoo and a shaved head, Thomas Vito Aiuto, gave a talk that referred in turn to Woody Allen, jogging and London cabdrivers.
They were at church.
Resurrection Presbyterian Church and Mr. Aiuto (known as Vito), its pastor, have developed a reputation for attracting the artistic young denizens of the neighborhood to services that combine readings of Psalm 85 with sermons that have a somewhat secular inflection.
Mr. Aiuto, 39, bristles when his church is singled out as particularly cool. “I don’t want this church to be special,” he said over chicken mole at a Williamsburg taqueria. “I don’t want us to be a church for artists. I want it to be a garden-variety church. What we have to offer people is God.” He paused for a moment. “And I think our music is really good.”
While only one-quarter of the so-called millennial generation, those born after 1980, attend weekly religious services (according to a study by the Pew Research Center), young pastors like Mr. Aiuto and Jay Bakker, the son of the televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye, as well as groups like the Buddhist-inspired Dharma Punx, are tailoring their messages to young worshipers.
In Mr. Aiuto’s case, this can involve a certain irreverence (he made a rude gesture while illustrating a point about the parable of the prodigal son during a theological question-and-answer session after one recent service) and a dash of self-deprecation.
“I’m shocked I’m a preacher,” he said. “There’s a part of me that did and in some ways still feels that I have no place standing up and telling other people what to do or to believe.”
Read the whole piece here.