Event is focused on bringing the community together to raise awareness about our rich heritage and reinvigorate Niagara's historic urban churches with activity and optimism.
Inspired by the "Mass Mob" movement in Buffalo, local residents and business owners Matt Green and Nirel Patel are bringing the initiative to downtown Niagara Falls. The concept has been conceived out of the popularity of flash mobs, but deployed to fill the pews in urban churches, where history and culture are being lost in time.
"NF Mass Mob" aims to select, by popular vote, three churches to "mass mob" throughout the year. The event relies on word of mouth and social media to drive attendance.
The first event will be held at 10 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017, at St Peter's Episcopal Church, 140 Rainbow Blvd. Parking is available free of charge to attendees in the city's parking lot on First Street and Rainbow Boulevard.
St Peter's Episcopal Church was a flourishing church in the late 1800s and first half of the 20th century, but suffered significant loss in attendance over the past 40 years. Now it only boasts a small congregation of a few dozen, whose spirit, faith and love of their church's rich history keeps St. Peter's bell ringing.
Organizers said this story is all too familiar for many of Niagara Falls' urban churches, including First Baptist Church on Main Street and Zion Lutheran Church on Michigan Avenue, both of which are on "NF Mass Mob" radar.
This event is expected to draw a large following, so attendees are encourage to arrive early. Updates and additional information is available at NiagaraMassMob.com.
The Rev. Dr. Howard Whitaker, priest-in-charge at St Peter's Episcopal Church, said, "The congregation of St. Peters is decidedly quirky... like Dickens-novel quirky. We have been described as what happens when the Holy Spirit blows across the island of Misfit Toys. So, something called a 'Mass Mob' would fit right in."
Patel said, "With the digital age came the inclusivity and accessibility to socialize for the masses. Ironically, the 'plugged-in' crowd has started to forget the true meaning to socialize. As churches have been the backbone of community socialization since the birth of our nation, with Niagara Falls being no exception, we owe it to our future to celebrate our past - and what better way to do that than to come out and be social."
Green said, "These buildings were once the center of our community; it only makes sense that the community comes together to support their existence for many years to come. This is a fun way to reconnect folks to the roots of our community and encourage future attendance of our churches."