Midtown church grows following on YouTube, provides street blessings

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NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- It's a familiar sound inside Midtown's Church of the Incarnation, violins, the organ, and song fills the sanctuary every Sunday.

But, the empty pews, camera equipment, is all new said Reverend Adrian Dannhauser.

"We have more viewers on YouTube than we would have in the pews, by far, so our reach has grown," Rev. Dannhauser said.

With COVID cases on the rise, the Episcopal Diocese of New York actually recommended that the Church of the Incarnation suspend in-person services, at least for the time being, but that has not stopped Rev. Dannhauser from connecting with her community.

"I think a lot of people are recognizing the need for God, especially when so many things sort of crumble around us," she said.

But lately, with a handwritten sign, she's been building something new. The reverend stands outside the church every Tuesday morning ready to offer a blessing.

Turns out, the pandemic has changed that too.

"Normally I would make the sign of the cross on the person's forehead and that's a very meaningful point of contact," Rev. Dannhauser said. "Right now, I do it from a distance, which is still a beautiful thing."

Especially for those who crave that human bond, in this era of isolation.

"You listen to the news and I'm supposed to be isolating, and I'm supposed to be this or that and I like people. You know, so it's a very frustrating time for me and after a while frustration turns to anger," said Stephanie Gregory, a neighbor.

That's why Gregory came for the blessing, but everyone has their own reason.

"She leaves me always feeling that God is never too far away. He's right there. Just ask for him," said Robert Rossi, a neighbor.

It's a connection with their faith, whether it's online or right out in the street.

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