QUEENS — For nearly 8 years the Celestial Church of Christ opened its doors to hundreds of parishioners.
Their Liberty Avenue location in Jamaica, Queens would be filled with worshippers, but there is now a drastic change. Since the July 2017 attempted sexual assault of one of its own after church services, Pastor Kehinde Oyetunde says many are opting to stay home or attend services at other churches.
The pastor said the woman who was attacked was the church's financial secretary and to this day she remains in fear, but attempts to come to church when she can. He said he's aware the neighborhood isn't the most appealing for a house of worship but insists recent increased police presence has helped
Four suspects were arrested and charged for attacking the churchgoing victim and reportedly lived at a homeless shelter nearby.
The pastor, however, said their capture has done little to calm the nerves of his congregation. Last summer he says he would preach to a packed room of 160 or more. Today the number barely exceeds 20.