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Saved in the City

INTRO: The New York City dating scene is infamous. Remember Sex and the City?

After two long years of online dating, bars and clubs are trying to get single New Yorkers off the apps and back into the world.

And they’re not the only ones. Even churches are back to helping singles mingle. Clara Grunnet reports.

CLARA GRUNNET: Luke Pettrey says he was saved when he was 15 years old.

And he’s never regretted finding Jesus, but during his teenage and young adulthood it did make things difficult in the romance department.

LUKE PETTREY: Growing up and being in the city I kind of assumed for the most part that people I interacted with weren’t prospects”.

GRUNNET: For 5 years, Luke didn’t even go on a date. That’s until he went to a wedding, where he met Emily.

EMILY: “Emily Pettrey, previously Emily Deloian, haven’t officially changed my name yet, so… either one”

GRUNNET: “Is that because you got married?”

EMILY: “Yeah I just got married” Luke.

GRUNNET: These two evangelical Christians got their fairy-tale ending.

And when the happy couple is asked for advice on how to find love as a practicing Christian in New York? They say there’s a place.

(Christian music fades in) LESS MUSIC

Church. In this case, Hope Hill Church on the lower east side.

Instead of an altar is the set-up of what looks like a pop concert; a keyboard, a couple of guitars and a line of mics.

EMILY: “If I were to give anyone advice on how to meet a Christian, I would say.. To just get plugged into a church.

(Church ambi fades)

GRUNNET: The music fades and Luke stands up to give a sermon.

(Ambi clip of Luke giving sermon)

GRUNNET: As he is speaking, the young people on the front row are halfway listening and nodding in agreement, halfway whispering and showing each other text messages on their phones. The place feels like simultaneously one of worship, and of… socializing.

(Ambi clip of Luke giving sermon stops)

GRUNNET: After the sermon, Luke says that young people, like the ones at today’s service, will come to him for Christian dating advice.

PETTREY: “There’s so many questions people could have. Obviously sex being something we believe is for marriage, but then, how to approach any physical contact with people until the day you might get married, like what’s right, what’s wise?

GRUNNET: From the outside it seems there is a tension between the secular symbol of New York City, and a conservative Christian way of life.

Sarah Hedgecock, a PhD candidate in Religion at Columbia University says that Christians have a history of coming to the city with an attitude that they are saving it.

SARAH HEDGECOCK: and I think it’s also important as an identity marker, especially for conservative Christians, evangelicals living in the city to be able to say, “I’m in the world but not of the world, I live in this secular city, but here is how I’m different from it and the work I’m doing to change what’s around me.”

Whether or not it’s in the pursuit of saving the city, many people are just out there trying to find the one… Like Matt Broncato.

MATT BRONCATO: I’m a bachelor right now.

GRUNNET: Are you looking in the Church?

BRONCATO: Yes I’d say I’m looking

GRUNNET: Have you put the word out that you’re single?

BRONCATO: I think people know, hahaha.

Like in any dating situation, success is all about the numbers.

The more people you meet the better chance you have of finding love.

As the Bible says in Matthew 7:7: “Ask and it shall be given you, seek and ye shall find”.

Or as Emily Pettrey from the church puts it:

EMILY: We have like a deficit of men, so if any men are Christian and listening, we got like a lot of eligible women here.

(Christian ambi fade)

Clara Grunnet, Columbia Radio News.


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