This Year, Catch the Spirit

Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum. | DONNA ACETO

Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum. | DONNA ACETO

If you need gay spiritual good cheer this time of the year, here are some reliable suggestions for holy hot spots where queer New Yorkers can find some perspective and inspiration –– and perhaps escape from their families, as well.

Congregation Beit Simchat Torah (CBST)


At Church of the Holy Apostles

296 Ninth Avenue at 28th Street

Shabbat Service: Friday, 7 p.m.

New York’s pioneering LGBT synagogue still meets at Church of the Holy Apostles for Shabbat services Friday evenings, but the congregation ritually broken ground and is in the demolition phase on construction of its new home-to-be at 130 West 30th Street. The design, by Luke Hughes, will have modular pews!

This year’s main Shabbat Chanukah service will be led by the charismatic and upbeat Senior Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum on December 19, 7 p.m. (27 Kislev 5775, when sunset is at 4:22 p.m.).

Holiday spiritual resources for New York’s queer community

Dignity New York


At St. John’s in the Village Church

218 West 11th Street,

Between West Fourth Street & Waverly Place

Mass: Sunday, 7:30 p.m.

Founded in 1972, the New York chapter of Dignity offers a welcoming home to LGBT Catholics and even has a group for active and former gay priests. The Dignity Christmas Mass details follow below under Judson Memorial Church.

Judson Memorial Church

Dually-aligned with the American Baptist Churches and the denomination now known as the United Church of Christ

55 Washington Square South at Thompson Street

Weekly Service: Sunday, 11 a.m.

The 1890 Italian Renaissance landmark was designed by Stanford White with gorgeous stained glass windows by John La Farge. Community minister of the arts Micah Bucey is easy on the eyes, welcoming, and even plays the ukulele! “I ran from the church for a long time,” he told Gay City News recently. “I didn’t feel I was welcome there and then I found Jesus was the queerest one of all! He questioned the way society told us to act, so I found he was a queer activist.”

Judson holds Advent Services Tuesdays, December 16 and 23, 6 p.m.

Judson also hosts the Dignity Christmas Mass on Wednesday, December 24 from 6:30-10 p.m. A 4 p.m. Family Service precedes the Christmas Mass.

St. Bart’s


325 Park Avenue at 51st Street

Choral Eucharist: Sunday, 11 a.m.

Reverend Bruce Forbes at 212-378-0210


Harvard architecture scholar Christine Smith has called the 1917 Bertram Goodhue-designed Byzantine church “a jewel in a monumental setting.” St. Bart’s is where Jim McGreevey, who earned a master’s of divinity since resigning as governor of New Jersey, worships and it has a very active and friendly Lesbian and Gay Fellowship Group.

Christmas Eve Services:

Wednesday, December 24, noon;

A Quiet Christmas in the Chapel, 4 p.m.;

Eucharist with Christmas Pageant; 7 p.m.;

Festival Eucharist, 11 p.m.

Christmas Day Service:

Thursday, December 25, 11 a.m.

The Secret City Band's Jeremy Bass. | THE SECRET CITY

The Secret City Band's Jeremy Bass. | THE SECRET CITY

The Secret City


At Dixon Place

161A Chrystie Street,

Between Rivington & Delancey Streets

Service: Third Sunday, 11:30 a.m.

“We worship art,” explained the energetic Chris Wells, founder and artistic director of this group that, since 2007, has attracted a growing community of fine and performing artists. Their “ongoing performance rituals” are decidedly upbeat, with lots of fun music, led by cutie electric guitarist Jeremy Bass.

The Secret City’s December 21 event has the theme “Visions.”




Unitarian Church of All Souls

Universalist Unitarian

1157 Lexington Avenue at 80th Street

Weekly Services: Sunday, 10 a.m. & 11:15 a.m.

Senior Minister Galen Guengerich was raised Mennonite and last month delivered a sermon about a 96-year-old former minister who, having watched 36 years earlier as his gay son was kicked out of the Church after coming out, officiated at his wedding when Pennsylvania began allowing gay marriage this year: “When Chester Wenger conducted his gay son’s wedding, he was doing God’s work in this world: filling the timeless form of faith with fitting content that is praiseworthy and true. Blessings on him and his family. And blessings on all of us who, in our own place and time, faithfully walk from what’s past to what’s possible.”

Christmas Eve Services:

Wednesday, December 24, 8 p.m. & 11 p.m.

The Divine Gypsies, Unity New York’s dance ministry, in a 2012 performance.  | UNITY NEW YORK

The Divine Gypsies, Unity New York’s dance ministry, in a 2012 performance. | UNITY NEW YORK

Unity New York

Unity Worldwide Ministries/ Association of Unity Churches

At Symphony Space

2537 Broadway at 95th Street

Weekly Service: Sunday, 11 a.m.

Unity attracts big, truly diverse crowds that get up and shake a tail feather to the terrific choir and just as often to the sermons of handsome, daddy-type senior minister and founder Paul Tenaglia, here in his Twitter feed: “Any day I work out is a good day; any day I work out my mind is a great day; any day I work out my soul by meditating is a perfect day.”

Christmas Sunday Celebration Service:

December 21, 11 a.m.

Twelve Step Groups:

Alcoholics Anonymous

High Noon

LGBT Community Center

208 West 13th Street

Sunday, noon

AA is the granddaddy of all 12-step programs and High Noon is the grandmamma of all New York gay AA meetings. With a crowd of 300-400 LGBT people every week there to hear one of there own tell their story, qualifying at High Noon is like playing the big room in Vegas. Oddly enough, everyone always stays until the speaker has finished, but at the break the room clears out as all and sundry head to brunch!

Sunday, December 21 is the pre-holiday meeting of High Noon, where more than one share is likely to be about how alcoholism is a three-pronged disease: Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s.

Sexual Compulsives Anonymous

Full weekly meeting list for New York


This program, which draws 95 percent of its attendees from gay men (there are similar programs serving other demographics), covers a lot of ground behavior-wise: getting caught up in booth-stores, hustlers, phone apps as well things like romantic obsession and so-called sexual anorexia.

Holiday Gratitude Meeting:

Chelsea Studios

151 West 26th Street

December 21, 3-4:30 p.m.