By Francesca Norsen Tate, Religion Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Grace Church’s Restoration Project Featured Prominently in NY Times
Grace Church-Brooklyn Heights, which has been undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation, was the subject of excellent national news coverage this past week. On Christmas, The New York Times published a story by David Dunlap, headlined, “A Brooklyn Church Uncovers a Long-Hidden Celestial Scene,” which centered on the surprise discovery of ceiling artistry that gives the sanctuary the quality of opening to the heavens. Then, on Friday, CBS News broadcast a segment, “Brooklyn Church Discovers Hidden Artwork Painted Across Ceiling,” viewable online via newyork.cbslocal.com.
The Rev. Stephen D. Muncie, rector of Grace Church and several parish leaders, including Margaret Monsor, and Tom Pace, chairman of the Restoration Committee, described the $5 million renovation, involving a new copper roof, new insulation, wiring, cleaning many of the Austin Organ’s 3,200 pipes—and now, a surprise bonus.
When the sanctuary’s ceiling was professionally cleaned, the stars shone forth!
Dunlap writes, “What had looked until a few months ago like a dull ceiling of plain wood planks turned out to be a dazzling celestial extravaganza of eight-pointed stars in gold, yellow and red — so lacy they might be taken for snowflakes — set in an expansive vault of royal blue.”
Steve Muncie was quoted, “We were surprised to discover this long hidden splendor that had been waiting to be revealed. The restored decorative ceiling and new lighting will lift our eyes — and souls.”
Famous architect Richard Upjohn designed Grace Church, which was founded in 1847. The first service was held in the sanctuary in December, 1848, and the parish recently marked this 165th year milestone—currently worshiping in the Guild Hall while work progresses on the church itself.
Some 16 years later, in 1866, the ceiling and walls were painted in a brilliant array of colors and patterns, with a ribbon of biblical verses around the nave and chancel, such as this from Psalms: “Thy testimonies are very sure, Holiness becometh thine house O Lord, forever.”
Kim Lovejoy, a vice president of EverGreene Architectural Arts, which is the conservation, plaster and decorative arts subcontractor to ICS Builders, pointed out why this was a fortuitous discovery.
“It’s so rare to find a Gothic Revival painting scheme that can be unearthed,” she said. “We came to understand that the decoration was creating a heavenly garden in that space.
“The colors and pattern motifs of the painted wall and ceiling decoration, stained glass, wood and stone carvings, furnishings and floor mosaic, were designed to work together as a coherent ensemble,” Ms. Lovejoy added. Lovejoy has been working with Margaret Monsor and other parish leaders who are meticulously overseeing this project.
The work is expected to be complete in time for Easter which occurs later than usual in spring, 2014, on April 20.
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Kane Street Musicians’ New Album Is Fruit of ‘Choir Loft’ Residency
Joey Weisenberg, community educator and musician at the Kane Street Synagogue, has just released a new album with the Hadar Ensemble.
Titled “Nigunim Vol. III: Live in the Choir Loft,” the album was launched on Dec. 19 and is Weisenberg’s third CD of stirring nigunim (wordless melodies). The CD includes a live performance from Weisenberg and the Hadar Ensemble.
Weisenberg writes that this CD, and the music in it, are the fruit of an eight-month weekly residency in the “Choir Loft” at the Kane Street Synagogue in Cobble Hill.
“More than one hundred and fifty years ago, the space was designed for a choir to sing ‘from on high’ down to the congregants. This year, a group of Kane Street congregants cleared out what seemed like a century’s worth of accumulated shul accoutrements and reclaimed the loft as a space for music – only this time, our band brought the audience up to the loft with us! The loft itself – with its beautiful acoustics, grand view, and the lovely group of supporters - became the creative soil in which the music could develop and flourish.
“Using my open-ended compositions as starting points, this incredibly sensitive group of musicians and singers improvised and invented arrangements on the fly,” explained Weisenberg. “That open process left us vulnerable to making mistakes, but also left open the possibility of moments of unscripted surging beauty and power. The rumbling cars, chirping birds, cracking voices, audience shuffles, and other sounds of the real world added their unique flavor to this recording, which was recorded live.”
Weisenberg composed and directed all the music, and the CD was recorded on May 5-8, 2013. Don Godwin engineered, mixed and mastered the recording.
The Hadar Ensemble includes: Joey Weisenberg (lead vocals, guitar, mandolin); Mattisyahu Brown, Deborah Sacks and Eleonore Weill (harmony, with Weill also on vocals and wooden flute); Yoshie Fruchter (harmony, vocals, upright bass); Myk Freedman (lap steel); Sam Weisenberg and Tom Drum (percussion); and Jake Shulman-Ment (violin).
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Dr. James A. Forbes to Preach at Installation Of House of the Lord Church’s Pastor
Dr. Karen S. Daughtry will be installed as Pastor of the House of the Lord Church in Brooklyn this Saturday, Jan. 4.
The Installation Preacher will be the Rev. Dr. James Alexander Forbes, Jr., Senior Minister Emeritus of The Riverside Church and President of the Healing of the Nations Foundation. The Riverside Church has gained fame as a center of social justice and impassioned preaching. Riverside Church, an interdenominational, interracial, and international congregation with 2,400 members, was founded in 1927 by John D. Rockefeller Jr. It is affiliated with the American Baptist Churches and the United Church of Christ.
Dr. Karen Daughtry, a minister and educator in her own right, has been married to the Rev. Dr. Herbert D. Daughtry Sr., National Presiding Minister of the House of the Lord Churches, for 51 years. The House of the Lord Church ordained her to Gospel Ministry in 2000. She has served as Executive Minister of the Brooklyn congregation since January, 2010. She brings to her new role her extensive experience as a pastor’s wife, mother, counselor and activist.
Dr. Daughtry received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from Adelphi University. She earned her master of Professional Studies degree in Religious Education and her Doctor of Minister degree in Pastoral Counseling and Care from the New York Theological Seminary.
The Installation service takes place on Saturday, Jan. 4 at 3 p.m. A reception follows the ceremony. The House of the Lord Church has congregations in Georgia, Ohio and other states. A new congregation was recently founded in the Borough of Queens. The Brooklyn congregation is at 415 Atlantic Ave. in Boerum Hill.
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Celebrate Tu B'Shvat with services Saturday, January 11, 2014 at 10:30 a.m. followed by Seder-Fruits of the Season led by Cantor Suzanne Bernstein.
Seder Reservations required by Monday, January--$8 per person. Contact temple directly at 718-436-5082.
Progressive Temple Beth Ahavath Sholom is located at 1515-46th Street.