Religion Newsbriefs: March 23, 2013

March 23, 2013 By Francesca Norsen Tate Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Grace Church-seen from SE corner of Joralemon-Hicks-fall 2012.jpg
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Grace Church Hosts Open House for Neighborhood Before Sanctuary Closes for Renovation

Grace Church, an Episcopal parish in Brooklyn Heights, is among several in the historic landmark districts in this Borough that are undergoing repairs and renovations this year. Many houses of worship, including Grace, are home to outside groups and ministries as well as to their own members. What happens when a church must close its worship space for more than a year and how does this closure impact the wider community?

The parish is hosting an Open House this Sunday for the Brooklyn Heights community to answer this and similar questions, to give an overview of how space in other parts of the building will be used during this time and to explain plans for the comprehensive renovation and restoration of its roof, electrical wiring and lighting. The Open House will run from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 24, in the sanctuary (worship space). Members of the Renovation and Restoration Committee will be on hand to present an overview of a plan they have researched and discussed thoroughly for more than two years, and to give tours of the space.

Grace Church was founded in 1847. When the building, designed by noted architect Richard Upjohn, was erected in 1848, a roof was constructed that lasted over 125 years. A roof replacement in the 1960s had to be replaced again in the 1990s; that one began to fail after 10 years. In what Restoration committee chair Margaret Monsor calls a “pay forward project,” the new roof to be installed will be copper, and will be insulated so that the church—and not outside air—is heated.

A lightning rod protection system, new exterior and interior lightning and structural work to help improve acoustics are part of the project. The parish conducted a capital campaign, raising more than $4.5 million in a tough economy.

Grace Church will close its sanctuary following Easter morning services on March 31. Starting April 1, preparations will be underway to protect the organ, pews and other infrastructure in the sanctuary, and to erect the scaffolding in a safe and systematic manner. Actual renovation work is expected to begin by June.

Starting April 7, worship services will be held in the Guild Hall in the Parish House. Arrangements are being worked out with other Heights institutions to accommodate the larger services next Christmas. Because many organizations—including the parish’s ministry groups, the Grace Church School, and several 12-step support groups—also use the Guild Hall and other parts of the Parish House, arrangements are being made to maximize time and space.

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Retreat Presents Relaxing Meditation for Shabbat

Shabbat can be a time for rest and relaxation, community and contemplation. In this spirit, Congregation Mount Sinai offers a Shabbat afternoon retreat of meditation with Rabbi Seth Wax Saturday.

Beginning and experienced meditators alike are welcome to join in sitting and walking meditation, chanting, contemplative Torah study, and a soulful seudah shlish’t (final meal of Shabbat). No experience in meditation is necessary.

Seth Wax, rabbinic intern at Congregation Mount Sinai, is completing his final semester at Hebrew College Rabbinical School, a pluralistic program in Newton, Massachusetts. A native of the Boston area, he has been teaching meditation at synagogues, schools, and camps for nearly eight years. He received a master’s degree in Buddhist Studies with a focus on meditation theory and philosophy from Harvard Divinity School. He has trained with teachers from Zen, Tibetan, and Theravada traditions. He is also a participant in the Institute for Jewish Spirituality’s Jewish Meditation Teacher Training program.

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Women’s Seder Tradition Grows At Brooklyn Heights Synagogue

This past Sunday the women of Brooklyn Heights Synagogue gathered for a memorable 2nd Annual Women’s Seder. Thanks to a friendly interfaith neighbor, the women’s seder group, which grew so fast in its inaugural year, was able to use the reception hall at Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral.  More than 128 female congregants, family and friends gathered to celebrate! Rabbi Molly Kane Student Cantor Nancy Bach and special musical guest Michele Citrin led the seder. Our young women congregants (ages 13-18) joined in sharing their musical talents and finding the afikomen (which is a hidden piece of matzah. Whoever finds the afikomen is traditionally granted a price or a special favor of the finder’s choice). Generations rejoiced together and shared a potluck meal that many talented synagogue cooks.

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New Prayer Shawl Ministry Begins at St. Dominic’s Church

St. Dominic Catholic Church in Bensonhurst is in the process of establishing a prayer shawl ministry here at Saint Dominic’s Church.  A prayer shawl is a soft hand-made (knit or crochet) garment that is meant to bring comfort to the wearer; and to inspire an awareness of God’s presence in daily life.  The shawl maker begins with prayers and blessings for the recipient of the shawl; and the special intentions are continued throughout the creation of the shawl.  Upon its completion, a final blessing is offered before the shawl is sent to its recipient.

The prayer shawl recipient will use the shawl as a covering to comfort, enfold, wrap, and warm.  Prayer shawls console those who are grieving, comfort those who are ill and bring hope to those who are in despair.  Shawls are also presented on happy occasions, such as for the birth of a child.

This creative ministry will meet once a week at St. Dominic’s; participants do not need to have prior crocheting or knitting skills. Easy basic instructions will be provided for beginners.

Those interested in being part Prayer Shawl Ministry, please call St. Dominic’s Rectory at 718-259-4636 to register.

–Submitted by Roseanne Bourke, St. Dominic’s Church

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