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Halftime Hope

Need advice: please chime in if you adhere to an established world religion that is non-Christian

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Thank you.  I need a bit of  a consultation from those who are practicing adherents of the major, established, non-Christian, world religions. (There may be all kind of other beliefs, but for the purposes of my question, I won't be providing for many people who would fall in that category.) 

I am on a team planning a December event in NYC.  People will be coming from--thus far--33 countries.  The event we are planning is associated with a performance by an international artist, and both my event and the performance are secular in nature.  (My event is an evening reception with alcohol; people will, of course, choose according to their preferences.) 

This event was dropped in my team's lap without much warning, and prices for venues at the last minute are 1) exorbitant, and 2) scarce.  (We are looking at a $170+ ticket.) 

So my team is thinking outside the box, and starting to look at community spaces for our event.  (We'll have to do it quickly.) We will be looking at several possibilities. 

I have found a venue in an iconic church in Manhattan.  The space does not look "churchy", it is used for community music events (mostly educational; definitely choral and classical).  The space looks like an 18th century meeting hall with balconies. It does not have a religious focal point or altar.  

Question #1 -- what religion do you adhere to?

Question #2 -- If you adhere to a major world religion, would you be prohibited or very strongly discouraged from entering a church building (not the main worship building or sanctuary) for a secular event?

Please keep all comments respectful, and limit your answer to my questions and, if warranted, to a bit of explanation. 

This is not a discussion of the content or merits of anyone's beliefs.  :-)  

My question stems from a genuine desire to provide something which is accessible to as many of those traveling to the performance as possible.

Thank you in advance for your time! :-) 

 

 

 

 

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My side of the family has many Buddhist and Taoist, and they have no issues with attending church weddings and baptisms. So definitely not an issue for us. 

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My religion is Reform Judaism and I have no issue with attending events in churches.  I've been to numerous weddings, baptisms and funerals, and I've even been a bridesmaid a number of times in church weddings.  I've never met another Jewish person who would have had any issues either, excluding Orthodox Jews.  To be honest though, I've had very limited exposure to Orthodox Jews.

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Sometimes my Catholic church hosts events that target a community of people who share some characteristic (e.g. a group of parents interesting in expanding Special Olympics options, or an AA meeting).  Usually it's something that aligns with the values of the Catholic church, but also with the values of other religions.  

When we want to signal that the event isn't Catholic, despite using Catholic space, one thing we do is to make sure that the calendar is checked for conflicts (e.g. don't hold it on Yom Kippur) and to make notes like "vegetarian, kosher and halal options available"  if we're serving food, or something that is a signal that we are expecting and inviting all.  

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Orthodox Jew here.  If the space was used a  Christian worship space in the past but is not used that way anymore, I'd be OK using it.  I know there are Orthodox Jews who wouldn't even if the space weren't used for Christian worship anymore but was still decorated in such a manner.  Each O Jew would need to make that decision (possibly with the advice/guidance/ruling of a Rabbi).

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1 hour ago, Library Momma said:

My religion is Reform Judaism and I have no issue with attending events in churches.  I've been to numerous weddings, baptisms and funerals, and I've even been a bridesmaid a number of times in church weddings.  I've never met another Jewish person who would have had any issues either, excluding Orthodox Jews.  To be honest though, I've had very limited exposure to Orthodox Jews.

While most American Jews--certainly secular, Reform, and Conservative Jews--wouldn't think twice about attending an event in a church, that is defiantly not the case with many Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox Jews. Heck, I personally know chassidim who absolutely refuse to enter Reform synagogues.

This is a small minority. But it is there.

Bill

 

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I’m mostly just giving you a bump.  It sounds like a difficult spot to be in.  

I have a family with representatives from several major religions.  

I think most are “adherents” but not super religious, so that being in a building that wasn’t used for church services, but was somehow a church building would not be a problem.  Even being in a very churchy building like the Cathedral of St John the Divine wouldn’t be.  

However, I think several would feel much more comfortable in a secular building—even if being in a church building were not prohibited.  

Might there be any “unusual” secular venues possible to rent at this point? A secular private school? Covered tennis courts? A less expensive museum?  Someplace like Shakespeare and Co? Could it be in Brooklyn or Bronx?

Edited by Pen

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I'm Muslim, I personally would not have a problem with attending a secular event in a church building.. just like pretty much every other major faith, there will be a range of opinions and practice on this, but in thinking about the wide range of Muslims I know, those I know who would not be comfortable attending an event in such a location would also not attend an event with alcohol, and likely would not be interested in any event that had music or focused on music, so I'm not sure they are your target audience anyway.  My opinion, the majority would be ok with it.

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18 hours ago, Halftime Hope said:

Question #1 -- what religion do you adhere to?

Question #2 -- If you adhere to a major world religion, would you be prohibited or very strongly discouraged from entering a church building (not the main worship building or sanctuary) for a secular event?

Please keep all comments respectful, and limit your answer to my questions and, if warranted, to a bit of explanation. 

This is not a discussion of the content or merits of anyone's beliefs.  :-)  

My question stems from a genuine desire to provide something which is accessible to as many of those traveling to the performance as possible.

Thank you in advance for your time! :-) 

 

 

 

 

1. Baha'i

2. No, not discouraged from attending an event in a church or other worship building.

Not discouraged from attending an event with alcohol. We don't drink, but there is nothing in our religion that states that we cannot attend an event with alcohol. 

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On 9/26/2019 at 3:27 AM, Kate in Arabia said:

I'm Muslim, I personally would not have a problem with attending a secular event in a church building.. just like pretty much every other major faith, there will be a range of opinions and practice on this, but in thinking about the wide range of Muslims I know, those I know who would not be comfortable attending an event in such a location would also not attend an event with alcohol, and likely would not be interested in any event that had music or focused on music, so I'm not sure they are your target audience anyway.  My opinion, the majority would be ok with it.

 Interesting that you mention this.  I guess it shows how wide a range of Muslim beliefs there are, because the artist is Muslim, and many women go to the pre-parties and concerts wearing their head-coverings--they come from all over the globe, not just western Muslims.  

And as I think of it, the artist was recently at a four-day "lifestyles of the rich and famous" celebration for someone, well, rich and famous.  😉 Alcohol was present, but the artist and his family who were also there, were not drinking.

The artist's concerts are most definitely secular.   Every pre-party thus far has had alcohol, but ironically ours may not, as a cost-containment strategy.  Sigh.  

Thank you, Kate, for your valued input.   The above is just musing...

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This sounds like it might be challenging?  

We attend a Unitarian Universalist church and do not identify as Christian.  I can't imagine any UU having an issue with this at all.  

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On 9/25/2019 at 8:10 PM, Pen said:

I’m mostly just giving you a bump.  It sounds like a difficult spot to be in.  

I have a family with representatives from several major religions.  

I think most are “adherents” but not super religious, so that being in a building that wasn’t used for church services, but was somehow a church building would not be a problem.  Even being in a very churchy building like the Cathedral of St John the Divine wouldn’t be.  

However, I think several would feel much more comfortable in a secular building—even if being in a church building were not prohibited.  

Might there be any “unusual” secular venues possible to rent at this point? A secular private school? Covered tennis courts? A less expensive museum?  Someplace like Shakespeare and Co? Could it be in Brooklyn or Bronx?

So, Pen.  It could definitely be in Brooklyn.  Do you know Brooklyn?  We are centered around Barclays, but if it were an easy train/subway ride to a different borough, that would be fine.  It can't be a hard trek because only a handful of these people are New Yorkers.

Our "fearless leader"  😉 wants the total ticket cost to be $80, tops for a really nice venue like waterfront would be $100.  (Insert hysterical laughter.)  My pricing for really creative penny-pinching at BAM is probably $135.  She is looking at the cost around the world for previous pre-parties in London and Moscow which were $60.   I just don't think it can be done in NY.  

She is thinking of splitting the party into two consecutive time slots to get us into a strip-mall-style party place, so people who have (in her mind) spent their last penny on travel costs can come.  If you saw  what people who do this are used to, relatively nice hotel ballroom rental parties, I don't think they will buy a ticket that 1) isn't evening, 2) isn't all together, and 3) is at a strip mall looking space.  They *will* google the location, and if it were me, I'd walk away and not buy a ticket at all.   [i'm tearing my hair out.]  

So that said, you have any suggestions?  I loved the Roulette Theater in Brooklyn-- it probably would have been doable -- but it is booked. 

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On 9/25/2019 at 12:20 PM, Chris in VA said:

Just real quick--is it General Seminary's space? 

No, but suggestions are so very welcome.  St. Paul's Chapel was what I had in mind, until I found out yesterday that since the main buildings are under construction, St Paul's is being used for all their service right now.  That makes it a "don't ask" for me, because it is a sanctuary in use, not primarily a music venue.   Does General Seminary have a banquet hall or meeting space that would house 250?  (crossing my fingers...)   

At this point, if we could get a single large space that was clean and decorate-able, easy to get to by subway or train from Barclays center, and where we could bring in the entire cost at $80 a head, it would be a miracle.  I'm NOT going for a strip-mall style party venue with polyester satin and balloons.  I'm just not.  See below.  My primary emotion at the moment is a lighter version of anguish. (Not to be confused with people who have real tragedies going on.) 

Edited by Halftime Hope

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20 minutes ago, Halftime Hope said:

 Interesting that you mention this.  I guess it shows how wide a range of Muslim beliefs there are, because the artist is Muslim, and many women go to the pre-parties and concerts wearing their head-coverings--they come from all over the globe, not just western Muslims.  

And as I think of it, the artist was recently at a four-day "lifestyles of the rich and famous" celebration for someone, well, rich and famous.  😉 Alcohol was present, but the artist and his family who were also there, were not drinking.

The artist's concerts are most definitely secular.   Every pre-party thus far has had alcohol, but ironically ours may not, as a cost-containment strategy.  Sigh.  

Thank you, Kate, for your valued input.   The above is just musing...

 

Yes.. this is true even here, where there are several alcohol-available restaurants.  I have some family/friends who will consciously avoid those and others who are ok eating at a restaurant that serves alcohol.  Again, I think anyone who is up for a concert would probably be pretty flexible about both the venue and the presence of alcohol.  jmo

 

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1 hour ago, Halftime Hope said:

No, but suggestions are so very welcome.  St. Paul's Chapel was what I had in mind, until I found out yesterday that since the main buildings are under construction, St Paul's is being used for all their service right now.  That makes it a "don't ask" for me, because it is a sanctuary in use, not primarily a music venue.   Does General Seminary have a banquet hall or meeting space that would house 250?  (crossing my fingers...)   

At this point, if we could get a single large space that was clean and decorate-able, easy to get to by subway or train from Barclays center, and where we could bring in the entire cost at $80 a head, it would be a miracle.  I'm NOT going for a strip-mall style party venue with polyester satin and balloons.  I'm just not.  See below.  My primary emotion at the moment is a lighter version of anguish. (Not to be confused with people who have real tragedies going on.) 

I'm not sure. Dh will be there for a fundraising event, but it isn't that lsrge. Have you tried Union Theological's Social Hall? I don't know if Columbia University, where it is located, is close enough to you. The cost is about 1K for rental to a non-profit. 

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I graduated from high school in Brooklyn, but it’s been years and years.  Things coming to mind (besides BAM) would be if there’s a suitable covered area at Brooklyn or Bronx Botanical gardens, or a large restaurant type space , or a loft style art dealership with space...  Brooklyn Heights had an athletic club (Heights Casino?) with some space—maybe not enough.  Does Prospect Park have any indoors area?  

For that matter, could it be outdoors with a rented huge tent? 

Or something likeRiverdale or Fieldston High School in Bronx which have  big buildings and grounds and aren’t  super religious, or maybe some other school that has no affiliation at all? Dalton?

 Brooklyn Poly Prep which I think has decent auditorium?

Pratt Institute which is a college in Brooklyn toward Manhattan end? (Don’t know if there’s any religious affiliation but it at least isn’t St Someone’s)

 

Is anyone in your group a member of an organization that might have a space? Like the Harvard Club or New York Athletic Club?  

Gramercy Park had a building that was used for some gatherings.  New York Academy of Science?  NYU? The NY Explorer Club? 

An Off or Off Off Broadway theater? 

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On 9/27/2019 at 2:12 PM, Pen said:

I graduated from high school in Brooklyn, but it’s been years and years.  Things coming to mind (besides BAM) would be if there’s a suitable covered area at Brooklyn or Bronx Botanical gardens, or a large restaurant type space , or a loft style art dealership with space...  Brooklyn Heights had an athletic club (Heights Casino?) with some space—maybe not enough.  Does Prospect Park have any indoors area?  

For that matter, could it be outdoors with a rented huge tent? 

Or something likeRiverdale or Fieldston High School in Bronx which have  big buildings and grounds and aren’t  super religious, or maybe some other school that has no affiliation at all? Dalton?

 Brooklyn Poly Prep which I think has decent auditorium?

Pratt Institute which is a college in Brooklyn toward Manhattan end? (Don’t know if there’s any religious affiliation but it at least isn’t St Someone’s)

 

Is anyone in your group a member of an organization that might have a space? Like the Harvard Club or New York Athletic Club?  

Gramercy Park had a building that was used for some gatherings.  New York Academy of Science?  NYU? The NY Explorer Club? 

An Off or Off Off Broadway theater? 

Thank you, Pen!!   Brooklyn Botanical has the Palm House but it's $$$.  NYAS has a gorgeous view from their 40th floor digs on the se corner of 7 WTC, but also about $250 per person for a reception with light refreshments.  I'll look at your other suggestions. :-)  Thanks so very much!   ETA:  it will be in December at night, so not a great time for outdoors.  

   

Edited by Halftime Hope

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Not a Non Christian nor do I know New York - but maybe check libraries? Some do events after hours - the one here does a "Romance, Wine, and Chocolate" thing so I know they allow alcohol and snacks, although a full meal wouldn't work. 

Anyone involved in planning live in a building that has space that can be rented? Here in suburbia many developments have clubhouses that residents can rent for a very reasonable fee, that are usually very attractive. Not sure how that translates to city living. 

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11 hours ago, Halftime Hope said:

Thank you, Pen!!   Brooklyn Botanical has the Palm House but it's $$$.  NYAS has a gorgeous view from their 40th floor digs on the se corner of 7 WTC, but also about $250 per person for a reception with light refreshments.  I'll look at your other suggestions. 🙂 Thanks so very much!   ETA:  it will be in December at night, so not a great time for outdoors.  

   

 

There are rentable huge tents with closed sides and even heaters available in some places—don’t know about nyc

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If your artist is of one of the nonChristian religions you are concerned about, why not get his opinion about the church building you found?

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Muslim--I would attend in a church, but a lot of Muslims I know would not.  The bigger issue for many (especially if from overseas) would be the presence of alcohol I think. For Muslims, who have lived and worked  in the West, it probably wouldn't be as much of an issue. 

 

ETA: Reading that the artist is Muslim may draw people regardless. 

Pen mentioned Poly Prep. That's right near Bay Ridge which has a huge Muslim community. 😉

Edited by umsami

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1 hour ago, Pen said:

If your artist is of one of the nonChristian religions you are concerned about, why not get his opinion about the church building you found?

The church building didn't pan out.  It was St Paul's Chapel in Manhattan, part of the campus of Trinity Church, which is Episcopal. Trinity's main building is being rebuilt, so everything is being held in St Paul's right now: all the daily services.   Under those circumstances, *I* am not comfortable asking, because it's not just a hall for community music functions, a lot of which are sacred music.  Right now it's main function is as a house of worship.  

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2 hours ago, Pen said:

If your artist is of one of the non Christian religions you are concerned about, why not get his opinion about the church building you found?

That's a great idea, but not possible.  I don't know exactly how not possible, but I'm a peon, so there it is--I'm back in high school. 😥

Thanks so much all your input.  :-) 

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Cooper Union?  Has nice space, but may be booked or too expensive.  

Near Riverside Church on upper west side there is or was a building that related to many religions.  Like an interfaith or tolerance or something like that place.  Can’t recall name and no idea if it has any meeting space versus just offices, but maybe they would have ideas.  

 

 

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1 hour ago, Pen said:

Cooper Union?  Has nice space, but may be booked or too expensive.  

Near Riverside Church on upper west side there is or was a building that related to many religions.  Like an interfaith or tolerance or something like that place.  Can’t recall name and no idea if it has any meeting space versus just offices, but maybe they would have ideas.  

 

 

Pen, do you live there now?  I'm "cooking" on another part of this idea, one that would be very meaningful to "my" artist.   He and his family are huge on giving back to the community, and one of their preferred methods of doing so is visiting and encouraging disabled community members, shut-ins, and so on. 

It occurred to me that if there were a catering company that primarily was staffed by or employed disabled or differently-abled adults, that would be a very American and a very "my artist "thing to do, to hire them for our event.  (We have something similar here, a catering company staffed by differently-abled adults--and my former church used their catering services regularly for events.)   

I'm not sure where one would even start to find something like that.  

Edited by Halftime Hope

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49 minutes ago, Halftime Hope said:

Pen, do you live there now?  I'm "cooking" on another part of this idea, one that would be very meaningful to "my" artist.   He and his family are huge on giving back to the community, and one of their preferred methods of doing so is visiting and encouraging disabled community members, shut-ins, and so on. 

It occurred to me that if there were a catering company that primarily was staffed by or employed disabled or differently-abled adults, that would be a very American and a very "my artist "thing to do, to hire them for our event.  (We have something similar here, a catering company staffed by differently-abled adults--and my former church used their catering services regularly for events.)   

I'm not sure where one would even start to find something like that.  

 

Nope. I’m in PNW now.

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2 hours ago, Halftime Hope said:

Pen, do you live there now?  I'm "cooking" on another part of this idea, one that would be very meaningful to "my" artist.   He and his family are huge on giving back to the community, and one of their preferred methods of doing so is visiting and encouraging disabled community members, shut-ins, and so on. 

It occurred to me that if there were a catering company that primarily was staffed by or employed disabled or differently-abled adults, that would be a very American and a very "my artist "thing to do, to hire them for our event.  (We have something similar here, a catering company staffed by differently-abled adults--and my former church used their catering services regularly for events.)   

I'm not sure where one would even start to find something like that.  

This company makes cookies and may be close enough to deliver, or ships free, and at the time I knew the owner's mother it was staffed primarily by deaf bakers. The owner is deaf, and I remember her telling me all about the lights instead of buzzers on the ovens, etc. Also, the cookies are freaking amazing! I can buy them now in Walmart. https://gjcookies.com/our-history

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I'm atheist and while in theory I don't have a problem attending events in religious spaces I do get tired of it always being Christian in particular. 

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23 hours ago, Sarah0000 said:

I'm atheist and while in theory I don't have a problem attending events in religious spaces I do get tired of it always being Christian in particular. 

 

Well, if my event is in the US, community centers and buildings funded and built by christian organizations are the most numerous choices, so it's a matter of odds. 

For those following this saga, we have narrowed to two possibilities, both of them paid venues but within our budget. 

Edited by Halftime Hope
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