Thursday, July 27, 2006

Nightclub or Youth Group?

Interesting. Wonder who complained? The curfew busting bass guitarist's mom, perhaps?
ALBANY -- Organ music has long had a place in church. But what about the power chord?

There will be no more music -- rock, punk, ska or even polka -- coming from the basement stage at Trinity Methodist Church on Lark Street, where police say an ongoing program of youth rock bands turned the church into an illegal nightclub.

"That's not the image we are projecting," said the Rev. Maurice E. Drown, who has hosted the all-ages, no-alcohol shows since March. "They are really stretching it to find some way not to have the youth in here."

Police Chief James Tuffey, who sent officers to the church Wednesday to halt a concert of four bands and issue Drown a summons to City Court, said the church is breaking the law. "An organ recital is a church event. This is not a church event."

Tuffey said neighbors complained about noise and kids hanging around the church, which is located in the heart of the city's liveliest neighborhood, where a string of bars and nightspots keep the street busy well into the night.

The shows are the brainchild of the Rev. Joyce Hartwell, who moved her New Age Cabaret into Drown's church after it lost its North Albany location this spring. She said she uses young people's love of music to tap into their spirituality.

"You can't confine religion to one book or procedure," said Hartwell, who provides books on Christianity and other world religions, as well as art objects and drawings, as part of the "Artists All-Faith Center" in the church.

Alcohol, drugs and smoking are banned, and donations are taken at the door, said Hartwell, who ran an a similar operation on Manhattan's Lower East Side for more than two decades before coming to Albany in 2000.

HT: Tough Times


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