RELIGION: First Unitarian choir celebrates the music of Clark Gesner

October 15, 2012 By Francesca Norsen Tate, Religion Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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First Unitarian Church will pay tribute to the memory of its beloved playwright Clark Gesner, and the historic congregation’s own son.

Soloists and Choir of the Church join other professional and semi-professional musicians for “An Evening Celebration of the Music of Clark Gesner” this Saturday, Oct. 20, at the Chapel of First Unitarian Church, Pierrepont Street and Monroe Place.

Clark Gesner, who was the son and grandson of Unitarian ministers, was a long-time member and deacon of First Unitarian. The evening’s tribute will be dedicated to supporting the music program of the church, which was a favorite part of his life.

Songs from Gesner’s classic musical You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown will be performed; in addition, there will be numbers from Animal Fair, The Jello is Always Red” and productions.  Charlie Brown opened Off-Broadway in 1967 to rave reviews and, currently, the show has received more performances than any other Broadway musical.  

Many of Gesner’s songs offer timeless, often wry commentary: “There is Always More Toothpaste in the Tube” is about optimism, but “Everything I Buy Was Made in China” seems more relevant today than ever.

“An Evening Celebration” begins at 8 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets for the concert portion only are $20 for adults, $10 for children and $50 for families.  Tickets for concert and dessert are $25 for adults, $15 for children and $60 for families.  Tickets may be purchased at the door.   


St. Charles Church presents next
event in fall concert series

St. Charles Borromeo Church presents thesecond in its new series of Fall Concerts, on Saturday, November 3, featuring Ulises Solano, a lyric tenor and the cantor for the St. Charles Borromeo Choir. Mr. Solano will present a voice recital featuring works of classical and popular music. The program begins at 7 p.m. at St. Charles Church, corner of Sidney and Aitken places. Tickets for the concert are $10 and will be sold at the door on the day of the concert.


Grace Church hosts
Christian-Buddhist dialogue

The similarities in the teachings of Jesus Christ and Buddha are the focus of two programs that Grace Church-Brooklyn Heights is hosting.

Readers may be familiar already with Thích Nhất Hạnh, the Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist, and author of “Living Buddha, Living Christ,” published in 1995. And the Brooklyn Oratory at St. Boniface Church has an ongoing Zen Meditation group

Grace Church’s Lindsay Boyer, a Christian spiritual director, meditation practitioner and facilitator of the parish’s Centering Prayer Group, presents a showing of the film Jesus and Buddha: Practicing across Traditions, along with a short talk and Q & A session.

Lindsay Boyer is a Christian spiritual director who has practiced meditation in the Christian, Buddhist and Hindu traditions and facilitates the Grace Church Brooklyn centering prayer group.  She will introduce the 44-minute film, Jesus and Buddha: Practicing across Traditions, which features interviews with three people who identify as both Buddhists and Christians: Robert Kennedy, who is both a Jesuit priest and a Zen priest; Chung Hyun Kyung, a Buddhist Christian theologian at Union Theological Seminary; and Paul Knitter, a Buddhist Christian theologian at Union Theological Seminary and author of the book “Without Buddha I Could Not Be a Christian.”

This event is offered on Sunday Oct. 28, 6 to 7:30 pm at Grace Church, 254 Hicks St. The program is designed to be a good introduction for those who plan to attend the Buddhist Christian dialogue on Nov. 11.


The Nov. 11 program is “An Introduction to Buddhist and Christian Meditation, with Dialogue,” with David Frenette and Robert Gunn, also at Grace Church.

Participants will have the opportunity to receive instruction in meditation practice from two traditions: Christian centering prayer and Zen meditation.  This workshop will provide an opportunity to practice both methods of meditation, followed by a dialogue about their differences and points of intersection.

Introducing the Zen meditation will be Robert Gunn, a Soto Zen priest at the Village Zendo, pastor in the United Church of Christ, psychotherapist, and lecturer at Union Theological Seminary.  Introducing Centering Prayer will be David Frenette, who has practiced this meditation discipline under the guidance of Father Thomas Keating for almost 30 years and is a spiritual director and adjunct professor at Naropa University.

Boyer explains, “Both practices can be incredibly transformational.  We’re offering an introduction to both so that people can choose the practice that feels most comfortable and appropriate.  The Zen practice may feel more secular and neutral to those who are uncomfortable with Western religion.  The Christian practice of centering prayer recognizes the presence of God and so may feel more natural for people who believe in God.  But the two practices are not really mutually exclusive.”

The dialogue and practice event runs from 2 to 4 p.m. on Nov. 11.  Copies of Robert Gunn’s book “Journeys into Emptiness: Dogen, Merton and Jung and the Quest for Transformation” and David Frenette’s “The Path of Centering Prayer; Deepening Your Experience of God” will be available for purchase.

Contemplative Outreach of New York co-sponsors both these programs. Donations will be gratefully accepted.


Milestones in Faith
Brooklyn Christian Center marks

first year of ‘Lifestyle Ministry

This week’s column spotlights the Brooklyn Christian Center, which celebrated its first full year of ministry last Sunday; and All Saints Episcopal Church, which celebrates its 145th year during 2012.

Joy and celebration was mood Sunday night at the Brooklyn Christian Center, as the congregation welcomed new members and six new Gospel Ministry leaders were inducted.

Senior Pastor Dennis Dillon presided over the installation, with other lay and guest ministers leading other portions of the three-hour service.  Guest preacher Matthew Singh spoke of the practical ways in which a Christian can be lifted out of ruts; for example, by surrounding oneself with inspirational leaders from whom one can learn.

 Indeed, the transformation of one’s everyday life is central to the Brooklyn Christian Center, which describes itself as a “New York life and lifestyle Ministry, committed to Transforming over 2,100 lives in 2012.”  The church states the mission of this ministry as “to Empower God’s people Spiritually, Emotionally, Physically and Practically.”

The Brooklyn Christian Center is at 1061 Atlantic Ave., on the north side, between Franklin and Classon avenues. Open Seven Days, the BCC offers worship services on Wednesday nights (Bible Study), Friday night (Kingdom Classes) at 7 p.m., a Saturday (Sabbath Service) at 3 p.m. and Sunday (Worship Celebration) at noon.

Pastor Dillon was also set to give the keynote address on Tuesday of this week at the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge (Adams St.). He appeared as part of a New York Powercard Networking event, with a talk titled “The Economic State of Black New York.”

* * *
All Saints Episcopal Church
celebrates 145 Years

All Saints Episcopal Church, at the corner of Seventh Avenue and Seventh Street in Park Slope, Brooklyn, celebrates its 145 anniversary with a dinner dance during the first weekend of November.

The parish was founded in August 4, 1867, when 20 families celebrated the Holy Communion in the Military Hall, on Fifth Ave. at the corner of 9th Street, under the leadership its first warden, Arthur Sinclair, according to the All Saints Church website,, and a church bulletin for the 140th anniversary celebration in 2007.

Six weeks later, on Sept. 16, 1867, members voted to incorporate the church as All Saints Episcopal Church and elected a warden and vestry. On Christmas Day of that year, the Rev. William D’Orville Doty was appointed the first Rector of All Saints.

The parish enjoyed the auspicious 28-year rectorship of the Rev. Elmore Leonard, starting in 1965. During this time many new organizations and ministries were established, including Sunday School and intercessory prayer and worship ministries which continue to this day. The Park Slope Senior Citizens Center is a weekday tenant of the church’s undercroft, and several community 12-step ministries meet in the church.

Fr. Lester’s retirement in 1993 was followed by two brief rectorships, of the Rev Dale Lumley and David Miracle, alternating with interim ministries of the Rt. Rev. Theophilus Annobil and then of the Rev. Dr. Lloyd Henry and the Rev. James Manning.  From November 2008 to June 2011, the parish was served by a long-term supply priest, Fr. Joseph Moise.

Father Steven Paulikas became priest-in-charge at All Saints on Pentecost Sunday, June 12, 2011. Prior to his ministry at All Saints, Fr. Paulikas served Grace Church-Brooklyn Heights as seminarian, deacon and then curate.

The dinner dance will be held on Nov. 2 at Bay Ridge Manor. For ticket information and reservations, contact Fr. Paulikas through the church office: (718) 768-1156.


Another pet blessing!

Photo by Francesca Norsen Tate

St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church held its Pet Blessing several days after the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, partly due to parish scheduling conflicts. But it was definitely in time for ideal weather, and the brief liturgy was held in the church garden on Oct. 14. Fr. John Denaro, priest-in-charge at St. Ann’s, confers a blessing upon Bantay, a Pekinese breed and loyal friend of Gene.

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