The United Methodist church in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, is anything but united.
Two very different congregations share the soaring brick building on Fourth Avenue: a small cadre of about 30 Spanish-speaking people who have worshiped there for decades and a fledgling throng of more than 1,000 Chinese immigrants that expands week by week–the fastest-growing Methodist congregation in New York City.
The Latinos say they feel steamrolled and under threat, while their tenants, the Chinese, say they feel stifled and unappreciated. Mediators have been sent in, to little effect. This holiday season, there are even two competing Christmas trees.
“This pastor is very rude to us,” said the Rev. Zhaodeng Peng, who heads the Chinese congregation with his wife.
The Rev. Hector Laporta, leader of the Latino church, responded, “He really has an anger problem.”