First Estate: Plymouth’s senior minister receives honorary doctorate

May 23, 2012 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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The Rev. Dr. David C. Fisher, Senior Minister of Plymouth Church in Brooklyn Heights, recently travelled to Demorest, Georgia to receive an honorary doctor of divinity degree from Piedmont College. During the May 5 commencement ceremony, Rev. Fisher was recognized for, in the words of Piedmont College, “his distinguished career as minister, his competence and compassion as a pastor, his effectiveness as a preacher, and his accomplishments as a scholar.” He also delivered the address at the school’s baccalaureate ceremony on May 3, the full text of which is available at www.plymouth
He reminded the graduates that as they pursue success in their chosen fields, their greatest achievements can be found in personhood and in one’s relationship to another, as a spouse, parent, and friend. “Do your best to repair God’s broken world. More than that, I wish you great success in your relationships, your mission in life, and every other matter of the heart. 
“Remember: who you are is far more important than what you do. And remember words from the heart of the wisdom tradition of the Bible: “Take care of your heart, for out of it flow all the issues of life.” 
An historic Congregational institution educating the youth of southern Appalachia, Piedmont College ( has ties to the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches, of which Plymouth is a member, and the United Church of Christ. Since 2008, the college has been identified as one of Plymouth’s Christian Help partners, receiving financial support for its mission of transforming lives and breaking the cycle of poverty through higher education. Each year, a donation from the church funds the Plymouth Partner Scholarship, providing tuition support to four local students who might otherwise be unable to attend.
Dr. Fisher’s visit to Georgia reinforced his view that lives can be transformed with opportunity and education. “Here in Brooklyn, far removed from rural Appalachia, the Plymouth congregation hoped and believed that our support of Piedmont College could change lives. My visit offered confirmation—and more. Piedmont is in the midst of a renaissance in growth and influence in the region, and Plymouth is proud to support its goals and its students.”
The honor that Dr. Fisher received from Piedmont College is not his first doctorate. He earned his Ph.D. in New Testament Interpretation at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. A graduate of Bryan College and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Rev. Fisher has done additional graduate studies at Hebrew Union College and Indiana University. His academic specialty is the Jewish background of early Christianity. He is a frequent speaker at clergy and denominational gatherings and has written numerous articles and a monograph, The Twenty-First Century Pastor: A Vision Based on the Apostle Paul (Zondervan, 1996). He is writing a new book on pastoral theology. A parish pastor for over forty years, Rev. Fisher served churches in Minneapolis and Boston before he was called by Plymouth Church in 2004 to serve as its tenth settled minister.
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‘Heroic Flourishes’ Concert
Launches Fundraising
For Courageous Restoration
Fanfare and meditative works showcased the grandeur of the landmark E.M. Skinner Organ at St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church last Sunday. Titled “Heroic Flourishes,” the concert launched a new fundraising project for the next and then final stages of the instrument’s restoration, one that it is believed will benefit the entire neighborhood.
The concert, of works by Gigout, Bonelli, Bach and living composers, Dan Locklair, Craig Phillips and Brooklyn’s native son, David Hurd, celebrated the restoration progress that has been made on the instrument thus far. Guest artists on brass instruments complemented the festive nature of these works. The proceeds from the May 13 concert launch a double-maintenance project that will enable the restoration team to access parts of the organ that have received no upkeep, because other components must first be removed from the organ chamber. This will in turn give access to the church’s tower, which must undergo waterproofing, pigeon-proofing and refurbishing. Eaton wrote in the program notes for “Heroic Flourishes’: “Logic says it would be wise to do the needed restoration of the church’s tower at the same time that the organ is removed for final restoration.” Ultimately, when the restoration is complete, the protective scaffolding can be removed, and the church will be more visible. The proceeds from Sunday’s concert will be applied towards architectural condition surveys.
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Jehovah’s Witnesses Invite All
To Attend Convention in Flatbush

The Jehovah’s Witnesses are evangelizing in Brooklyn, with the belief that that all, including non-Witnesses, will benefit from the positive message and practical suggestions to be highlighted at its District Convention in Brooklyn next weekend.
The 2012 “Safeguard Your Heart!” District Convention runs during the weekend of May 25-27, hosted at the Assembly Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses, 973 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, New York 11226.
The Witnesses’ convention program promises a fresh examination of Biblical references to the figurative heart. Through lively discourses, dramatic Bible readings and presentations, and even a dramatic production, program components will emphasize how protecting the figurative heart can enhance one’s spiritual well-being, family life, and happiness.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses will make a special effort to extend a personal invitation to everyone from a geographical swath ranging Kings and Nassau Counties to attend the convention. This convention is the second of 18 three-day events planned throughout this year, and begins Friday, May 25, at 9:20 a.m. Daily themes and titles of program components are based on passages of Scripture, including 1 Samuel 16:7, 1 Chronicles 28:9, and Matthew 12:34. The convention theme “Safeguard Your Heart!” is based on Proverbs 4:23. Strengthening one’s spirituality will be the focus of the program.
There is no admission fee. Conventions of Jehovah’s Witnesses are supported entirely by voluntary donations
Locally, all of the area’s 11 Jehovah’s Witnesses congregations will distribute printed invitations to the convention. An estimated 36,000 are expected to fill Assembly Hall over those 18 weekends for the Bible-based programs. Throughout the United States, there will be 385 conventions in 103 cities. Worldwide, there are over 7,600,000 Witnesses in more than 109,000 congregations.
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Religion and Music Newsmakers
Organ Curator Addresses
Society of Old Brooklynites

Another historic organ is the subject of a talk at the Society of Old Brooklynites’ next gathering.
Keith Bigger, organ curator at the New Baptist Temple, is the keynote speaker at the next meeting of the Society of Old Brooklynites’ First Wednesday series. He will give a “Historic Organ Story,” with his experience as curator of the J.W. Steere & Son Pipe Organ at The New Baptist Temple. The house of worship is at 360 Schermerhorn Street, about a block away from the Atlantic and 4th avenues intersection. His presentation takes place on the first Wednesday of each month, in the Conference Room at Brooklyn Borough Hall.
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‘Flavors of Lebanon’ Festival Attracts
Visitors from Brooklyn and Beyond
“Celebrate the Flavors of Lebanon” at the fifth annual Lebanese Festival during the first weekend of June.
The Cathedral Parish of Our Lady of Lebanon hosts the Lebanese Festival on Remsen St. in Brooklyn Heights. Featured are exquisite favorites of Lebanese and Middle Eastern cuisine: tabbouleh, kibbeh and delectable desserts. Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral also invites the community to share their culture and enjoy performances of the parish’s folkloric dance troupe. Other attractions are a bazaar, live band and DJs, competitions and a raffle. 
The Cathedral reports that last year’s festival brought in well over 10,000 visitors from all cultures and areas in a five state region. An announcement for the event states, “This year we expect to exceed that number. Our hospitality is all encompassing…from delicious food to lively fun and games.” The Lebanese Festival starts at noon on Saturday, June 2, running until 10 p.m. that night. Sunday, June 3 hours are noon to 5 p.m.
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Maronite Cathedral Youth Group
Leads Mother’s Day Celebration
Submitted by Salma T.Vahdat
Brooklyn Heights was awash in sunlight on a warm spring morning greeting the parishioners who came to celebrate the Divine Liturgy on Mother’s Day. It was a day of tribute to our mothers, living and deceased, and to the Patroness of our Cathedral, Our Lady of Lebanon.
The Cathedral’s Maronite Youth Organization (MYO) assumed the responsibility for assisting at the liturgy, doing the readings, and leading the Rite of Peace and offertory collection.
Bishop Gregory Mansour, the celebrant and preacher, was gracious in his homily, reminding us of the bottomless love of a mother for her children. The analogy of Holy Mother Church loving her children was further food for thought and reflection.
After the Divine Liturgy, our MYO invited the Community to enjoy a Mother’s Day brunch in the Cathedral’s Social Hall. The youth outdid themselves as gracious hosts and showed their boundless affection for the mothers of our parish. Their enthusiasm for serving the Cathedral and its community is commendable and indicates a sense of what is to come as they mature and assume the stewardship of the eparchial seat. The MYO and its moderator, Theresa Abi-Habib, are a credit to our community.
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Grace Church-Brooklyn Heights recently inducted two longtime members into its Francis Vinton Society for their outstanding service.
New Vinton Society members are Charles Edward Cole and Anita Yglesias, who was recognized posthumously. Mrs. Yglesias had died unexpectedly right before Christmas. Her husband, Jim; and their daughter, Denise Yglesias Varela, were present for the announcement, made during a Sunday morning service.
The Francis Vinton Society, which is named after the parish’s founding pastor in 1847, recognizes parishioners who have given outstanding service to the community. 
Grace Church’s Rector, the Rev. Stephen D. Muncie, explains, “After my arrival at Grace, I knew I wanted to establish a society to honor parishioners who have exercised commendable and distinguished leadership in our congregation. The dedication of faithful churchmen and churchwomen inspire all of us in our ministries.
Charles Cole has shown his versatile talents in the parish, foremost among them being the dedicated and official “brass polisher,” and Altar Guild member. For many years, Grace Church and the Brooklyn Oratory Choirs have shared Charles’ musical and choral talents.
Anita and Jim Yglesias together were active and beloved members of Grace Church for 60 years. Anita held several leadership roles and was president of the parish chapter of the national organization Episcopal Church Women. During his 26-year tenure as rector of Grace Church, the Rev. Goldthwaite Sherrill appointed Anita to committees within the Diocese of Long Island. 
Anita was also gifted with a sharp mind for organizing, and was chairperson of the White Elephants table at the Grace Church Fair, the parish’s annual “all-hands-on” event. Her longtime friend and White Elephants partner, Lois Osborne, recalls, “Anita was such a lovely lady. We worked so well together. She was always willing to do things, and she volunteered so quickly.”
Miss Osborne is also a Vinton Society honoree, along with Lynn Vardakis, Bronson Binger and Vernon Vig.


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Digital and Web Update

Visitors to the website of St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church website may notice that the parish’s address has changed to This is a shorter version of the previous URL and with it comes new email addresses for the staff and parish office. Starting immediately, the parish office can be reached via email at: [email protected].
Talk Centers on Outreach
For Catholics New to NYC
How do Catholics newly-arrived in Brooklyn—especially those from other parts of the United States—find a home parish here?
Stefanie Gutierrez, press secretary for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, is co-hosting a discussion with other New York Catholic transplants on how they and the Church can better connect. As the Diocese’s Year of Faith opening approaches, outreach and evangelization to new Brooklynites comes to the forefront.
Mrs. Gutierrez wrote a poignant column in last week’s “Up Front & Personal” section of the diocesan newspaper, The Tablet, about her experiences trying to find a new parish, at the same time dealing with a seriously ill child.
She wrote, “I am 29. I work for the Church. And the truth of the matter is, I felt spiritually isolated. If that is the case for me, I can’t imagine how it is for those whose only contact with the Church is on a Sunday morning if they even get up to go to Mass.
“How can we reach out to my peers, who are ages 23-35? Is it purely the responsibility of the Church or does some of it lie with them? One of the reasons people like New York is the anonymity. And yet, in some sense, this is precisely what is hurting us.
What are we doing for young adults who move from Kansas, Michigan and Missouri? It is imperative that those–often from strong Catholic families–moving into Brooklyn and Queens in order to make their way in the Big Apple find a place in the Catholic Church and in their neighborhood parish.”
Mrs. Gutierrez’s talk takes place on Thursday, May 31, at 7:30 p.m. at St. Joseph’s Rectory, 856 Pacific St., in Clinton Hill. Catholics who have moved to New York from other regions of the United States may RSVP to 718-517-3112 if they plan to attend.
Excerpts from Mrs. Gutierrez’s letter are provided courtesy of the Diocesan Office of Communications.

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