Giving glory

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The Salvation Army’s Times Square Corps’ Pratik Munn-Shirsath on his call to ministry


  • Pratik Munn-Shirsath, a fourth-generation Salvationist, and his wife, Olivia Munn-Shirsath. Photo: Nealson Munn

As a fourth-generation Salvationist, Pratik Munn-Shirsath is undoubtedly making his family proud with his unwavering devotion to The Salvation Army church. A native of Mumbai, India, he came to New York in 2005 to work with at-risk youth through a program called Project 1:17.

It was at his job as a youth pastor at The Salvation Army’s New York Temple Corps that he met his wife, Olivia. In 2015, they were both appointed core commanding officers and pastors of The Salvation Army’s Times Square Corps. The following year, they started The Glory Shop, which combines their shared vested interest in discipleship and the arts. It is a 10-month program for 18 to 35-year-olds, where students foster spirituality by discussing Scripture and engaging in prayer walks throughout the city, while also honing their performing arts’ talents.

“We started this school because of us believing that we are called to disciple artists from all over in a setting that’s free for them to create and find themselves with keeping Jesus at the center,” Munn-Shirsath explained. “With the focus that artists don’t usually live to earn millions of dollars, but when they perform, they actually live for the applause. So we actually wanted to turn the factor of applause not towards us, but towards God because he is the giver of all our gifts and our blessing flow from him. Hence, we decided to call it The Glory Shop. Glory not to us, but glory to God.”

You came to New York to work at Project 1:17. Explain that program.

It’s a program that was started in 2001, based on a book from the Bible, the Book of Isiah. It’s from Isiah 1:17 which says, “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” So it’s basically a program designed to raise up young leaders to step into the gap for the marginalized, for those who cannot fend for themselves. And mainly for kids who are at risk. This was a 10-month program where we got to do hands-on work with kids in inner city settings. And it was fantastic. It was life changing.... I think I really got to understand the words “at risk” and work with children who really didn’t have much, even as simple as a role model. So I got to learn about the logistics of that side of ministry. And above all, just loved being a mentor and beacon of light to some kids who really had it hard at home.

How did The Glory Shop come about?

My wife and I both attended different discipleship schools. I attended Project 1:17 and she attended a school called The War College, which is in Vancouver, Canada. She worked with people who are really struggling in life, such as drug addicts, and did a lot of street evangelism. So even before getting to this place, I think God was speaking to us about having a program that is stronger on the discipleship side of things, but also we both have a passion for art. And The Salvation Army, in the eastern territory of the United States, runs a conservatory which is called TAM, Territorial Arts Ministries, where kids from all over the eastern side of the country come to learn about God, but also hone their skills in art. They can be actors, singers, anything that has to do with performing arts. And that is run by a lady named Carol Jaudes. Olivia was so deeply impacted by that as well, so we decided we wanted to start a school for young adults.

What is a typical day like for your students?

They go through a plan called Bible in One Year, so they read certain sections that are in this plan every day, even when they are not at the school. And after that, one of them, who we call an orderly, facilitates a discussion among the students about the portion of the scripture that they just read.... They later walk around the neighborhood and pray in the streets, because we believe that by praying on the streets, we are actually calling heaven to Earth and influencing the streets in a positive way. That’s led by Eliana Satterlee, the outreach director. Last semester as part of their outreach, they went to Rikers and worked with inmates in there, telling them about Jesus and also teaching them about theater and acting. And after that, they break into performing art classes, which could be anything from how to direct a play to how to write a script to improv. They also meet at our house, because we live in the building, with a whole bunch of different young adults from our community and we have a small group gathering where we come together and eat and worship and dig into a portion of the Scripture.

How can people get involved and volunteer?

There are a lot of ways for people to get involved. As you know, we are predominately, at our location, very much a church. But we also have social services such as a food pantry and clothing vouchers. Clothing vouchers are prepaid and given to people with low to no income. This was put into place out of the need of people applying for jobs but often not having the right attire to present themselves in an interview or a job setting. This is when we step in and help them get clothed from one of our thrift stores. One of the beautiful things that has grown this past year is that we are putting on two musicals a year. And with that, we need a lot of help from people who can volunteer, even those who have any kind of talent and want to be a part of it can definitely audition.... We also have a café that happens on Fridays, which we started last October. It’s a time where people can come and hang out, every Friday at 7. But we also need help with that — setting up, barista help. People can get always come in and be involved in this community.

What are your future plans?

If I were to be completely honest with you, I don’t have any future plans because I’m a minister, and don’t want to make plans for myself. That for me, is very selfish. And in saying this, obviously I’m not judging people who make plans for themselves. All I’m saying is that I just want to be completely surrendered to God all the days of my life and just let God make plans for me.... But when you talk about plans, I would love to see our generation rise up and be a positive influence in this world and honor God for who he has made them and be in a relationship with him.

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