Many would describe hearing a live set by their favorite band at a concert as a religious experience. But in a word association game, a popular nighttime music venue would likely not be paired with ‘church.’ Until now.
The small-but-mighty Harbor Church in Center Moriches has turned the idea of traditional church services upside down. Since October16, 2016, they have hosted a Sunday morning service at 89 North in Patchogue. 89 North co-owner Dan Welsch was at first perplexed but agreed to let the ministry use his space. “Well, we of course don’t do much on Sunday mornings,” he said. “But music is very important to them, so we said, ‘why not?’”
The Harbor’s growing church community in Center Moriches is a major reason behind the need for a second campus. “We always wanted to do a satellite location, since every community has a feel of its own,” said Pastor Scott Jankowski. He explained that they had a wish list of places, with Patchogue at the top. “We just loved the vibe of Patchogue,” he said, referencing the growth of the community, especially young adults, over the last 10 years. “We just felt it was the place we needed to be.”
The Harbor Church is striking a chord with a younger generation. The nondenominational Pentecostal church has been successful in attracting youth and young families to their services. The parishioners come from all generations and walks of life, but Jankowski noticed a common thread among them—music. “For whatever reason, our church is extremely gifted with musicians,” he said.
The 30 or so musicians range in skill level and technique, but practice weekly. Worship through music is a huge part of their Sunday morning experience, which is why 89 North was the best fit for the service. At 89 North, musicians get the full “rock-star” treatment, according to Welsch. The venue is equipped with state-of-the-art lighting and audio technology in a space that is both intimate and spiritual. It bridges the gap between concert and communion; both emphasize community and the presence of something bigger. The Harbor musicians are also working towards recording their first original album, Jankowski said.
For Jankowski, praising through music does not detract from the important messages he preaches weekly, it adds to it. “[Music] takes the importance out of your own life and stresses and reminds you that there is something bigger than our own individual experiences,” he said.
BY TARA SMITH