50th anniversary

My New York

Chapter 8: Flocks

Tatar Muslim, Alyssa Ratkewitch Haughwout, and Orthodox Church in America, Archbishop Reverend Michael Dahulich. Photo: Martin Schoeller
Tatar Muslim, Alyssa Ratkewitch Haughwout, and Orthodox Church in America, Archbishop Reverend Michael Dahulich. Photo: Martin Schoeller
Tatar Muslim, Alyssa Ratkewitch Haughwout, and Orthodox Church in America, Archbishop Reverend Michael Dahulich. Photo: Martin Schoeller

This anniversary issue is devoted to what might make other people in other places go crazy but here we call connection. Not just the connections we choose, like our poker groups or going-out friends, but those that could happen only in a city as clotted and manic as ours. Fifty years ago, New York’s founding editor Clay Felker wrote a mission statement for his new magazine. “We want to attack what is bad in this city and preserve and encourage what is new and good,” he wrote. “We want to be its voice, to capture what this city is about better than anyone else has.” Here, we return to this mission, attempting to capture the city’s voice through stories that are spoken as much as written, almost entirely in the first person, and always about how our disparate lives intertwine. Read more about the project here.

My Flock: “Recently, a young man approached me in the midst of ending his life.”

Fifty faces of New York’s religious plurality.

Akan, Nana Esi-Ayisi Dinizulu, and Baha’I, Sophia Kasapira Stutzer.
Baptist, the Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts III, and Bruderhof, Michelle Hinkey.
Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Church, the Reverend David J. Kossey, and Chabad, Rabbi Shlomo Kugel.
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Robert Shull, and Church of Satan, Adam Cardone. “I’m not here to help somebody — I don’t know — write their pact to the Devil better. And believe me, people ask us that kind of stuff. We get weird questions constantly: ‘How do I sell my soul?’ People who think they’re Satanists and clearly don’t get it.” —Adam Cardone, Church of Satan Photo: Martin Schoeller
Church of Scientology, Lori Alpers, and Eckankar, Chad DeLuca.
Episcopal Church, the Reverend Kathleen Liles, and Hinduism, Pandit Manoj Jadubans. “Recently, a young man approached me in the midst of ending his life. I was shocked — I assured him that he is loved, he is worthy, and, because of the spark he consists of, he is needed to complete the plan that God has set forth to him. He is still alive today, and for that I am grateful.” —Pandit Manoj Jadubans, Hinduism Photo: Martin Schoeller
Jainism, Kalpana Gandhi-Sanghavi, and Jews for Jesus, Aaron Abramson.
Jodo Shinshu Buddhism, the Reverend Dr. T. Kenjitsu Nakagaki, and Kabbalah, Karen Berg.
Kemetic Spirituality, Jabari Osaze, and Krishna Bhakti, Doyal Gauranga Das.
Lucumi/Orisha Tradition, Dr. Marta Moreno Vega, and Lutheran Brethren, Pastor Erick Sorensen. “Most Manhattanites moved here with big, starry-eyed visions of what could be. Most of the time, it doesn’t happen, and it burns them out. So ministering to them has been part of my role, saying, ‘Your dreams don’t have to die—they just have to change right now.’ ” —Pastor Erick Sorensen, Lutheran Brethren Photo: Martin Schoeller
Mankon Ancestral Worship, Mafor Mambo Tse, and Medicine Wheel, Robert Zuben Ornelas. “There’s a ritual called takembeng, which happens when there is a great injustice. A group of older women wear white, and they have a red scarf. Sometimes, if the crime is so despicable that they cannot speak about it, they put a green leaf or a stick on their mouth. They come to your door and publicly shame you until you decide to make forgiveness. They used it here when the president of Cameroon visited in September.” —Mafor Mambo Tse, Mankon ancestral worship Photo: Martin Schoeller
Nation of Islam, Minister Dr. Abdul Hafeez Muhammad, and Neopagan Druidry, Peter Coughlin. “Just this morning, I prayed for people who just lost their mother. I told them what the Koran says: ‘No soul dies except with the permission of God.’ And each of them should honor God for the life that was given to their loved one. My job is to use the word like a doctor must use a scalpel, to help heal.” —Minister Dr. Abdul Hafeez Muhammad, Nation of Islam Photo: Martin Schoeller
New Thought Christianity, the Reverend Joyce E. Anderson, and Nondenominational Christianity, Ryan Holladay. “When someone challenges my serenity, I bless them, because Jesus said, ‘Agree with your adversaries quickly.’ And if I can’t deal with them, I do a physical thing, like putting their name in my Bible and saying, ‘God, you take care of that.’ ” —The Reverend Joyce E. Anderson, New Thought Christianity Photo: Martin Schoeller
Nuyagi Keetoowah Society, Ray Evans Harrell, and Orthodox Judaism, Rabba Sara Hurwitz. Photo: Martin Schoeller
Presbyterian Church, the Reverend Dr. Jacqui Lewis, and Rastafari, Abbot Abdia Foxe. “Yesterday, this woman named Sandy — she’ll be 90 — she came by the church to tell us how upset she was about Puerto Rico and the storm and about the shooting in Las Vegas. We held hands, and we prayed a little and cried a little. She’s been talking about getting baptized — this Jewish woman! So this Sunday, we’re going to baptize her, another Jewish woman, and a baby. Isn’t that wild? Then we’re going to bless animals — because we should.” —The Reverend Dr. Jacqui Lewis, Presbyterian Church
Reform Judaism, Rabbi Angela Buchdal, and Renewal Judaism, Rabbi David Ingber.
Roman Catholic Church, the Reverend James Martin, SJ, and Santa Muerte, Guadalupe Lopez.
Santeria Orisha Lucumi, Rudy Guardiola, and Seicho-no-ie, Mario Kawakami.
Shia Islam, Imam Faiyaz Jaffer, and Sikhism, Harpreet Singh Toor.
Spiritism, Jussara Korngold, and Sufi Islam, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf.
Sunni Islam, Imam Talib Abdur-Rashid, and Tenrikyo, Minister Jiro Mihama. Photo: Martin Schoeller
Theravada Buddhism, Bhante Heenbunne Kondanna, and Unitarian Universalism, the Reverend Dr. Kelly Murphy Mason.
United Methodist Church, the Reverend Dr. Cathy S. Gilliard, and Vodou, Manbo Dòwòti Désir. “Every August at Riis beach, there’s a ceremony for a vodou loa called Agwé, who is associated with the ocean. Because of our experiences as Africans, having arrived here by way of the transatlantic slave trade, there is something … profound is a silly word when you talk about the ocean, but I can’t think of another term that speaks to what it means for us, that we survived that travail and that we’re here in the Americas, in New York, celebrating.” —Manbo Dòwòti Désir, Vodou Photo: Martin Schoeller
Wicca, the Reverend Starr RavenHawk, and Zoroastrianism, Shirin Khosravi. Photo: Martin Schoeller

— As told to Nick Tabor

My New York: Flocks