Serving The Least, The Last, and The Lost.
The Promised Land Covenant Church was formed when several individuals – many of whom were on staff with Urban Youth Alliance (a grassroots para-church organization in the South Bronx) – felt the need to minister more intentionally to the spiritual formation needs of broken community members we were serving through social outreach programs. The ministry, formed in 1978 as an offshoot of David Wilkerson’s missionary efforts in New York City, had worked for years with urban youth. Since 2000 they had developed more intentional social service programming for the especially populations: namely adjudicated youth and former prisoners returning to the community. This programming fulfilled the biblical mandate to care for “the least of these,” and we hoped that through our dense network of Bronx congregations, we would be able to find a church “home” for these individuals. However, we found that while the individuals we ministered to responded to the gospel, they rarely plugged in to a local church. The gap between conservative church culture and the street realities that our participants faced was often insurmountable. Youth and adults alike often returned to us having had intensely negative experiences in churches. They felt judged for their style of dress, language, and habits. When we urged them to re-connect, they would respond by saying to us: “Why can’t this just be my church?” We had the relationships, the trust, and the experience with them. We had served them through job training programs, court advocacy, and drug counseling, and we were the ones who had first shared the gospel with them. However, we had none of the regular spiritual formation activities (Sunday worship, Bible study, etc.) that they would need to grow in the Lord. We began to sense that God was calling us to feed these sheep by planting a church that would specifically meet the needs of the most marginalized, and provide for them a safe place to worship and find healing, free from judgment and condemnation.
In October of 2006, we began to meet on Friday nights for prayer and fellowship at the community center where many of us worked. By December of 2007 there were enough people gathering with us that we felt it was time to begin Sunday services. We rented space from a small Spanish Pentecostal church on 146th Street and Brook Avenue – though our first prayer service at the new location had to be postponed as two individuals had been shot – one fatally – directly in front of the church just minutes before our service was supposed to begin. In January of 2007 we held our inaugural Sunday service and continued to meet at the new location for the next year. Our membership continued to grow and it soon became apparent that renting from another church (with access to the space only twice a week) was limiting our ability to grow and develop the various ministries and programs that were on our hearts. In December 2008, we found a newly renovated storefront space on 137th Street & Cypress Avenue, just several blocks from where we were worshipping, and were able to close the deal on renting the space for ourselves. In January 2016, PLCC made its biggest move ever to the heart of Parkchester in the Bronx, to a space 10 times larger than our South Bronx location. Since then, the church, having two locations (the Parkchester church and the Cypress Avenue community center) has continued to grow exponentially both in membership and in various outreach and ministry programs that have organically developed to meet the needs of the body and the community.