20 years ago, Eric Metaxas knew practically every born again believer in Manhattan.

“It was like a spiritual ghost town,” the cultural commentator, thought leader and author recalled.

Yet, over the recent decades—particularly this last one—New York has seen a surge in evangelicalism. Some cultural experts believe the Big Apple to be on the brink of another ‘Great Awakening.’

Gregory Thornbury, president of The King’s College—the only free-standing Christian institution of higher learning in New York City—compares this rise in Christianity to the the great Wall Street revival of 1857.

“I would say there is a very special moment of spiritual renaissance happening in New York City right now,” he said.

The Roots of the Renaissance

While it may seem to onlookers that the spiritual renaissance in New York City has just started, it has roots that reach several decades deep.

In 1969, shortly before the Cymbalas came to lead The Brooklyn Tabernacle, B.J. and Sheila Weber sensed a need in the city for evangelical, like-minded businessmen to come together for encouragement and growth. So, they founded New York Fellowship. Incorporated in 1984, New York Fellowship grew beyond the meeting of businessmen and extended its reach into the city. Chaplaincy to New York City’s professional sports teams began, along with ministry to the homeless and inner city youth.

New York also had other evangelical pioneers like the late David Wilkerson, whose heart was pierced for the gang members and drug addicts of New York. He moved there in the 60’s and began Teen Challenge, a ministry that is still considered successful today.

These ministries, and others, gained momentum and flourished over the next two decades.

As the 80’s came to a close, a man considered by many to be one of the most influential pastors of our time answered a call to New York City to start a church: Tim Keller planted Redeemer Presbyterian, hailed as one of the most vital congregations in New York City.

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