New York's Spiritual Roots
Jonathan Edwards, a former New York City pastor, authored the term "concerts of prayer" in 1747. Edwards used this phrase to describe Christians coming together in visible unity and spiritual agreement. The application of this vision was to see congregations gathering every quarter to pray together stimulating the First Great Awakening in the United States.
The Third Great Awakening began in 1857 on Fulton Street in Manhattan under the leadership of Jeremiah Lanphier. As a layman, Lanphier initiated a noon-time prayer meeting that grew to several thousand business leaders. This revival spread across the nation and was the spiritual backbone of the 2 million conversions in the nation during that period.
The fruit of this praying was not only oriented in revival and evangelism but also contributed greatly to social reform and international missions. In 1865 President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation ending slavery in America. Between 1865-1900 more African Americans became Christians than any other ethnic group in North American history. The African American church has blossomed into one of the most important urban institutions in the United States. Movements like the Salvation Army and the Christian and Missionary Alliance were birthed during this period. In 1888 the Student Volunteer Movement was birthed in New York City motivating 25,000 young people to enter missions in the next 40 years.
In 1906 the Asuza Street Revival in California gave birth to Pentecostalism. By the end of the 20th century many of the fastest growing churches in New York City were Pentecostal churches - both African American and immigrant churches.
Greater New York's United Prayer Movement
In 1987 Mac Pier was a staff member with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in New York City. A colleague in Chicago, Rick Richardson, had brought 1000 people together in Moody Church for a concert of prayer. After learning about this effort, Mac explored what this might look like in New York City.
In June of 1987, Mac met Ted Gandy and Aida Force from Here's Life Inner City. They decided that they would plan their first meeting in February 1988 hoping 16 churches and 200 people would come. More than 70 churches attended. By September of 1989 seven regions of Greater New York were hosting their own concerts of prayer led by local pastors. These concerts of prayer evolved into annual National Day of Prayer events, held in as many as 26 locations at one time.
In 1990 the first pastors' concert of prayer was held at Brooklyn Tabernacle. More than 400 pastors came from as far as 4 hours away. These pastors' gatherings evolved into the annual Pastors' Prayer Summit held for 3 days at Tuscarora Inn the fourth week of January. In 2007 the sixteenth anniversary summit of more than 300 leaders, was the most denominationally diverse gathering of its kind in the region.
In 1994 Mac joined Concerts of Prayer International led by Rev. David Bryant. In 1995 35 churches began to pray a day a month for the region, nation, and the world via The Lord's Watch Prayer Vigil. Between 1995 and 2000 the murder rate in New York City dropped 70%, making it the safest city in America of more than 1 million people. That same year the first urban consultation with Dr. Ray Bakke in Manhattan was held, bringing 95 leaders together for 3 days of teaching, ministry tours of New York, and accessing resources. Later nearly $400,000 was given by foundations to ministries present for urban mission. In 1997 the ministry became locally incorporated as Concerts of Prayer Greater New York.
Today there is a Board of Directors of 12 leading pastors and marketplace leaders from the region. COPGNY continues to motivate the Body of Christ in Greater New York to come together in visible unity while seeking the face of God for the spiritual transformation of the region..