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A new style of evangelical

King's College Students deal with pros and cons of their "new Christian Urbanism."
Friday, March 14, 2008 | 1:00 p.m. CDT; updated 1:39 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

NEW YORK — King’s College’s style of “new Christian urbanism,” as its provost calls it, frowns on hard-sell proselytizing. But students at the King’s have been known to strike up conversations in the city with strangers, hoping, at minimum, to change their mind about evangelicals.

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The most outgoing and nerviest is David Lapp, who takes semi-regular field trips to the campus of New York University and approaches people with lines like “Do you want to discuss big ideas?” or “What do you think is the good life?”

“I see this place as a meeting ground,” says Lapp, who was home-schooled in Lancaster County, Pa., aka Amish country. “The people I meet are very detached from Christian America; they’re not sure what’s happening out there in the heartland. Just talking, I realize that New Yorkers aren’t as crazy as I was always told they are, and they can learn that evangelicals aren’t as crazy as Pat Robertson makes us seem.”

Then again, students have found themselves in more than a few discussions they couldn’t wait to end. Such as the two female students who were talking in the stairwell of their apartment building late at night and were accosted by an elderly woman whom they were apparently keeping awake. She had a knife in her hand, which she at first hid behind her back.

“Next time I bring two of these!” the woman shouted, revealing the blade.

Nor was there a lot of amiable back-and-forth when Caitie Hlushak found herself alone in an elevator, at midnight, with a man carrying a black plastic case.

“It looked like the sort of case that would carry a gun,” says Hlushak, who comes from a small town near Denver. “And he turns to me and he says, ‘I just killed a guy.’ I was like, ‘What?’” she recalls, laughing. “I just cowered in the corner. He might have been joking, he might have been trying to be friendly.”

Friendly? “I know. It sounds crazy. Oh, and he had a can of Drano in his other hand.”


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