Newsong's Santa Ana Strategy: Save the Poor, Support the Arts, Fight the Gays and Drunks

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My first interaction with Newsong Church--which has all of the Artists Village in SanTana freaked out because they just bought the Santora Building--came years ago, in a building they currently own on 511 E. Santa Ana Boulevard. Back then, it was known as PrimeUrban, and the main tenant was SolArt Gallery Cafe, which ran a community space for arts and youth for years. I used to be involved with them until, um, issues arose, but I was still in the informational loop when I heard the news: their plans to hold a Queer Ball, a gathering for LGBT high schoolers, was blocked because PrimeUrban's owners found it offensive to their Christian faith.

And one of the anti-gay owners? A Newsonger.

SolArt nevertheless continued, even though more than a few gays and lesbians were involved, without a hitch for a couple of more years...until the owners decided to sell the spot to Newsong, which promptly turned it into their own community center, 511 Creative Community, and pushed SolArt out.

Unlike people who automatically hate anything religious, I don't immediately find Newsong as offensive as the Scientologists. On one hand, there's probably no better church outside of the Mars Hills movement to have purchased the building. O, atheist artists of SanTana: Newsong is a hipster church. They party! They drink! Its demographics are like the demographics of the Artist Village: a bunch of multiculti do-gooders who want to spark a "renaissance" in SanTana. But instead of trashing quinceañera shops, Newsong has been working with the wabs of the city for years. Its most famous alum is councilmember David Benavides, who helped to start Newsong's outreach into the city; a 2003 bulletin of the Pacific Southwest Conference of the Evangelical Covenant Church obtained by the Weekly wrote Benavides was "forming a group to start a new ministry in Santa Ana." They have a longstanding alliance with Kidworks, the mighty SanTana nonprofit, and run Laundry Love and Saint City Sessions; the former lets poor folks get their laundry done for free, while the latter lets hip-hop inclined youth do their deal in a safe setting. They truly do care for the downtrodden, and that's more than can be said for some of the Brave New Urbanists who want poor Mexicans out of SanTana and replaced with the umpteenth loft.

On the other hand, though, Newsong doesn't like gays. Oh, they'll deny it to the ends of Earth with the loving-the-sinner/hate-the-sin excuse, but official Newsong policy deems homosexuality "a far more complex issue than simply a sexual preference. There are issues of lack of male-affirmation, spiritual hunger, abuse, narcissism, and relational idolatry that are often not discussed." What a load of shit! They stress being gay is a sin like any other sin--no more, no less--but still a sin. Fuck that!

And Newsong is already declaring its own potential tenants needing salvation. In an email circulated to members as a Q & A on the subject, one asked "Some of the tenant operations are contrary to church values (i.e. - a cocktail lounge). Is that a problem?"

"We don't think so," replied Newsong Pastor Dave Gibbons. "We believe that is exactly the kind of people that God wants us to love and connect with."

In other words, drunkards of downtown (myself included): we are sinners. Expect outreach to us alongside our eighth Manhattan (hit them back with Jesus' water-to-wine miracle, por favor).

I believe Newsong when they say they want to keep the Santora a place for arts and work with the current community, but the fact remains: church members will not allow stuff they find objectionable to happen on their property. If they buy it, it is theirs, and they'll push tenants out one by one and replace them with Newsongers. And they don't like gays. Parachuting into what they consider Sodom and Gomorrah is great for Newsong, but...ah, I forgot my Scripture when I began worshiping in the pews at Memphis at the Santora, so I'll just leave it at this:

Prove us wrong, Newsong. Don't bring Jesus-fication to the gentrification and gente-fication already present in downtown, m'kay?

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32 comments
Shaun King
Shaun King

Hi! I'm Shaun King - Director of Communications for NEWSONG.  Thank each of you for your comments.  I'd love to answer any questions I can for any of you.  We are doing this person to person and face to face in meetings as well.

Here's what we've learned - people pretending to speak for the artist community and people pretending to speak for NEWSONG have made a mess of this conversation and others.  If you have any questions, feel free to post them here.

Let me give a few quick facts:

1. We want to continue the eclectic mix of artists and businesses that currently exists.  Period.

2. We will never ever discriminate against any previous, current, or future tenants for any reasons - including sexual orientation.

3. We are completely against censorship in any form.

4. We are not purchasing the building to convert the space into a church space. We have as many as 4,000 people that attend our church and this space would not work well for us in that sense.  

Annie Chiang
Annie Chiang

To the Santa Ana Artists, Newsong Church will face down your riots and idolatry. We love being oppressed for God! We did a prayer walk around the building and we saw the poor shape that the shops were in and the poor people walking the streets. With or without you NS will partner with the true leaders of your community and change the neighborhood for the better. You'll see!

Dave Gibbons
Dave Gibbons

Gustavo, looking forward to talking soon. Actually, we never owned 511. . . we just rented.  We partnered well with Sally and only had great interactions with her and SolArt. She was amazing. Look forward to hopefully working with her again. Thanks for the affirmations on our work in Santa Ana.

Frank Lin
Frank Lin

http://global.newsong.net/Artists, let your voices be heard at Newsong's service tomorrow morning. Start a dialogue in the chat room of their online service broadcast. The membership needs to know your side of the story,

S.A. Artist
S.A. Artist

Gus, If one of my artist friends suggested that we needed to have a "Queer Ball" in my gallery, I would tell him/her to get lost also.  Theo Hirsch says it best, the tyranny of the Whiner or Wiener alliance needs to be put in check.   Also, the only thing bad I ever heard about the Sol Art Gallery or 511 was just how difficult that "Sally" chick was, and I always heard that from others Latinas and Latinos.   I never heard anything about homophobic Christians. 

Frank Lin
Frank Lin

Oh Gustavo, if you did any research you'd realize that you have nothing to worry about. This church has one of the best track records for kicking off bold, expensive initiatives and not carrying through with them. This will prove to be just another one of Supreme Leader's big ideas that never comes to fruition (after all, he's a visionary, not someone that gets things done).

Maybe you can help Gibbon's find a house in Santa Ana, I hear he's looking to move into a bario near you!

20ftJesus
20ftJesus

Funny, my Evangelical Xian friends always call for tolerance of their religious views; yet, they are most intolerant toward everyone else, e.g. Jews, Muslims, LGBT, Mormons, etc. 

Annie Chiang
Annie Chiang

I absolutely do not speak for Newsong and I'm sorry if it sounded like I was pretending to speak for the church but I only speak for myself. Furthermore, I am entitled to my own opinions and I am entitled to voice those opinions, I don't appreciate that I've been sent messages to not participate through comments. WHY AREN'T THERE MORE CHURCH MEMBERS POSTING ON THESE COMMENT SECTIONS?

I don't like the statement's you have been making Shaun, the vote was to buy a piece of property in order to develop it into a missionary and outreach hub, not to lease it for a long time for money.

Boddie
Boddie

Interesting that you don't say why Newsong is purchasing the property. If not for a church and you are going to keep the tenants then what?

And regarding future discrimination with potential tenants...bullshit. So if the church of satan wants a loft to do pig blood paintings your are just going to look at their credit ratings and check references and all is good? 

Your post creates more questions than it answers. 

Bhudda
Bhudda

What is a Prayer Walk? Seriously. I am curious as to what it is?

Is it different than a limp or a jog?

In all seriousness, since the early days of the nineties when Fr. Chris Smith and the a couple of founders of THINK TOGETHER created the Palm Sunday blessing of the streets in Downtown there has been many "marches".

Is it symbolical? Are you praying for the people, the building (like the common practice in the Phillipines when someone buys a new car)?

And if Annie Chang showed up in her bikini, like she posts on the internet, a lot of the people would pack the church every week!

just some artist
just some artist

Nobody is "pretending" to speak for the artists community. Artists are always free to speak their mind. The only mess made was from you.

Bettipagina
Bettipagina

the City of Santa Ana does not need another church, we like santa ana just the way it is, with our bums, artists, gays, everyone, so please take your yuppie irvine values and keep them in Irvine.....

just some artist
just some artist

What is exactly wrong with the area? Too many homeless? Does the art suck? Not too sure if you knew what the area use to look like, but it looks a lot better than is use to and I think it looks beautiful. We don't want to be pretty like Irvine, we kind of love our old buildings. The Santora use to be full of junkies selling dope and now it's full of art.

What riots are you talking about? The one your pastor try to incite during his last sermon on Sunday? 

I guess you know what's best for us since you walked around the building a prayed.

Bhudda
Bhudda

What exactly is a prayer walk?

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Dave: Ustedes do the Lord's work, but do prove me wrong on my criticisms. All with due time, of course...

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Why is it that in person you're so well-spoken, while online you're so full of shit?

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

I live in a PO Box in Anacrime, so can't help Gibbon's in that department!

Must2see
Must2see

ust as David implied I'm amazed that you able to make $5939 in a few weeks on the internet. did you see this web link===>>must2visit.blogspot.com 

<<EasyCash At Home>>
<<EasyCash At Home>>

It is very easy in the world to live by the opinion of the world. It is very easy in solitude to be self-centered. But the finished man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.

S.A. Artist
S.A. Artist

 Is 2O foot a Christian?  When are you going to come out your mystery closet?  

Bhudda
Bhudda

Annie, What is a "prayer walk" and what does it do?

Please enlighten me. It sounds interesting.

THIRD REQUEST!

Owlborn
Owlborn

Okay, now I'm REALLY curious. Why is Newsong buying Santora? Outreach and missionary work, as Annie Chiang thought, or as a cash cow, as Shaun King says? Someone is obviously wrong here.

just some artist
just some artist

I'm sure they are being honest with you, just not the community of Santa Ana.

NoNewSong
NoNewSong

Benadives has to get away from Irvine. His affair he had on his wife sent her back to Irvine and he needs a place to sleep in Santa Ana. Newsong has comfy pews.

Annie Chiang
Annie Chiang

Adam didn't try to incite a riot, he was just telling us that we have to be brave in the face of oppressive forces. NS has faced opposition in tough neighborhoods before and everytime we've come in, we've been able to reduce homelessness on skid row, stop sex trafficing in mexico city, fed the hungry in Santa Ana through the burrito project and 511, we're even some really cool healings and prophecy at our church. NS would be a good thing to have in DTSA.

David
David

Shouldn't you be asking yourself the same questions?

Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

It's true... and his walls clash with the rusty metal outside. It's so ugly.

just some artist
just some artist

Typical non-answer. ... Oppressive forces? How insulting and hypocritical.

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

No, because everything I say is shit, pathetic fanboy!

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