Religion News for week of April 3-9

April 4, 2013 By Francesca Norsen Tate Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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St. Ann & Holy Trinity Church Hosts Performance of The Cotton Patch Gospel

The Off-Broadway musical, The Cotton Patch Gospel, is coming to St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church in Brooklyn Heights this month. This show, which imagines how life would play out if Jesus were born in Gainesville, Georgia, in the 20th century, features the music of the late Harry Chapin. A Brooklyn native who grew up active in the music program of neighboring Grace Church, Chapin became a celebrated singer/songwriter and activist before his untimely death in a 1981 traffic collision. The Chapin family supports the use of the piece to address concerns about global poverty.

The story draws its inspiration from Koinonia Farm founder Clarence Jordan’s translations of the Gospels. The show’s writers are Tom Key and Russel Trez. What makes The Cotton Patch Gospel truly unique is the “one man” performance by native Illinoisan, Phillip Kaufmann. Through the use of audio and video technology, Phillip portrays over 20 characters, plays 11 musical instruments and sings his own backup vocals.

Kaufmann has taken his one-man show on the road and raised nearly $80,000 to combat hunger in the past two years. Information about his efforts is available at and Facebook at Cotton Page Gospel Food Project.

All proceeds from the event will support the fight against hunger, with 50 percent going to the Hunger Outreach Project of St. Ann & the Holy Trinity, 25 percent to WhyHunger (an organization founded by Harry Chapin and New York radio host and Catholic philanthropist, Bill Ayres), and 25 percent to Mennonite Central Committee food program. WhyHunger lists Phil and his show along with artists like Bruce Springsteen, Carlos Santana, and Chicago in their efforts to fight hunger.

The Cotton Patch Gospel begins at 3 p.m. on Sunday, April 21. Admission is $10 plus goodwill offerings at the door. The church is Clinton and Montague streets.

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‘Say Yes!’ Concert Spotlights Music of Three Abrahamic Faiths

The music and traditions of the three Abrahamic faiths—Judaism, Christianity and Islam—is the theme of “Say Yes!,” a concert at First Unitarian Church.

Plymouth Church’s Tone Chime Choir joins the Choir of First Unitarian Church, the ActorCor Chorus, the Nassim al Saba Choir of American University of Sharjah (United Arab Emirates).

The concert begins Thursday at 7 p.m. The suggested donation is $10. Students and children are admitted free.  First Unitarian Church (116 Pierrepont St.) is at the corner of Monroe Place. For more information, visit or call 718-624-5466.

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Plymouth Church’s Lay-Led Service Brings the Arts into Worship

The Sunday after Easter, commonly known as “Low Sunday,” will have special meaning this year for the Plymouth congregation. Members will share their own talents and resources in a lay-led worship service. Plymouth’s Worship and Arts committee is organizing the liturgy, which will build upon the well-received lay-led services in 2012 and 2011.

At the 11:00 service on April 7, members of the church will share their own talents and resources. Organized by the, the service The theme of the April 7 service, the Road to Emmaus, is based on the primary scripture lesson (Luke 24:13-35). Coordinators Jacque Jones, Robin Osborne Mooney and Bruce Oelschlager are bringing together artists and performers who will incorporate music, dance, spoken word and visual art into the service. At present, the list of participants includes Katharine Bartley, Hattie Bollerman, Anita Bushell, Halley Bysshe, Wendy Eilers, Maggie Fales, Amelia Hamilton, Kalia Hamilton, Emily Malefyt, Matthew Meek, Ava Riley, Lee Scott, Narcissa Titman, Jim Waechter, Jeff Welch, Rebecca Yaggy, Dave Youngblut and the Plymouth Tone Chime Choir. The worship service begins at 11 a.m. Plymouth Church is on Orange St. between Henry and Hicks streets in Brooklyn Heights.

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Holocaust Remembrance Week Observances

Film Collection Unfolds Story Of American Ministers on Dangerous Rescue Mission

As part of Holocaust Remembrance Week, First Unitarian Church and other interfaith organizations are joining forces to present Two Who Dared: The Sharps’ War, a collection of three films, which are making premieres this spring. The film anthology is being launched through a grassroots, community-based effort, at churches, synagogues, theaters, and schools, in cities worldwide.

Two Who Dared: The Sharps’ War is the never-before-told story of Waitstill and Martha Sharp, an American minister and his wife, who boldly committed to a life-threatening mission in Europe to help save imperiled Jews and refugees at the onset of World War II.

After 17 ministers declined the Unitarian Association’s request for relief volunteers in Europe, Waitstill and Martha were the eighteenth call. When they committed to the dangerous undertaking, they left their two young children in the care of their congregation in Wellesley, Massachusetts and traveled to Czechoslovakia at the onset of WWII. In order to enable the clandestine transportation of refugees, they battled political and social blockades, broke laws to get imperiled individuals exit visas and laundered money on the black market. Over the course of two missions: in Prague (1939), and in Southern France (1940), the Sharps, and their underground confederates, played a vital role in saving thousands from persecution.

The State of Israel in 2006 recognized the Sharps as “Righteous Among the Nations” at Yad Vashem for risking their lives to save Jews and dissidents during the Holocaust. Of the 25,000 so honored, they are two of only three Americans to ever be honored, and the only husband and wife.

The documentary film is told from the point of view of Martha and Waitstill Sharp,

drawing on their recorded interviews, letters and unpublished memoirs, and includes interviews with rescued children and noted Holocaust scholars. Through the inspiring true story of Waitstill and Martha Sharp, Two Who Dared: The Sharps’ War reveals a timeless lesson of personal sacrifice and courage to be shared with future generations.

Director and co-producer Artemis Joukowsky III is a nonprofit activist, film producer, and venture capitalist. Joukowsky has formed ten for-profit and eight non-profit institutions and has been a founding partner in two venture capital funds. As a socially conscious investor, his for-profit entities focus on renewable energy and biotechnology. Joukowsky is the co-founder of No Limits Media Inc., sponsor for the film. In 2002, Joukowsky co-authored Raising the Bar, a celebration of the achievements of athletes in disability sports, and in 2005 No Limits Media showcased the Raising the Bar photo exhibit for over 80,000 visitors at the United Nations Convention in New York City.

Since 2000, Joukowsky has overseen and managed all aspects of the Two Who Dared Film Project and the Sharp Education Project. This includes the documentary film, the Sharp Archives at the United States Holocaust Museum and Brown University, and the educational curriculum developed by Facing History and Ourselves. He is currently writing a book about the Sharps, with the same title, due out in 2013.

The presentation is on Wednesday, April 10 at 7 p.m., in the First Unitarian Chapel on Pierrepont St., between Clinton and Monroe Place, adjacent to the main Sanctuary of First Unitarian.

Brooklyn co-sponsors include, in addition to the host congregation and its Weaving the Fabric of Diversity ministry, All Souls Bethlehem Church and its pastor, the Rev. Tom Martinez.

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Yom HaShoah Program Spotlights Holocaust Survivors’ Cherished Recipes

Another program for Yom HaShoah: Remembering the Holocaust, hosted at the Union Temple of Brooklyn, focuses on a different angle—the remarkable stories and cherished recipes of Holocaust survivors

Union Temple’s program, which begins at 7 p.m. on Sunday, April 7, features June Hersh, author of Recipes Remembered: A Celebration of Survival. It was written in association with the Museum of Jewish Heritage; now in its fourth printing, has received critical acclaim in the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune and the Jewish Week. For more about her, please access her website. For further information please call Union Temple at 718-638-7600.

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Congregation Beth Elohim and Old First Reformed Church join forces for the first of two spring evenings devoted to Psalms, one collection of the many Biblical books that Christians and Jews together hold sacred.

“The Music of Psalms Across the Faiths” will be an interfaith exploration of sacred Biblical poetry. Cantor Joshua Breitzer and the Rev. Dr. Daniel Meeter, will lead the evenings of close reading, listening and singing of some of the most well-known psalms in a variety of styles. The first program is on Wednesday, April 10 from 8 p.m. through midnight. The entrance to Congregation Beth Elohim is 274 Garfield Place, (near 8th Avenue) in Park Slope. All are welcome!

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Maronite Young Adults Group Minister to City’s Homeless- One Woman ‘Turns the Table’ on Cathedral Mission Group

The Maronite Young Adults (MYA) organization at Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral took part in a “Jesus Run,” a mission of mercy to the city’s homeless population.

The MYA’s Respect Life Lenten Mission, in which other parishioners also participated, was both a grand and humbling event. On a recent Saturday, the group gathered at the Cathedral to prepare an act of service toward the homeless on the streets of New York City. This charitable gesture is not only about distributing food, clothing, blankets and personal sundries to the homeless poor. It is mainly about listening to the homeless who are ignored and unnoticed by millions of people who pass by them every day. After preparing the food, drink and clothing the group spent an hour in the Cathedral Chapel in meditation and prayer. Fortified with purpose they went into Manhattan to the Penn Station area and met their guide, a Franciscan Friar of the Renewal. Their gifts were graciously accepted …it was obvious they were in dire need.

However, there was one exception. Our rector, Msgr. James Root, who traveled with the group also, had this tale to tell: He approached a lady and offered her some food. She politely refused saying she wasn’t hungry. He offered her a blanket which she also refused, saying she had one. It was then she offered HER blanket to Msgr. to give to someone else who might need it. He was so impressed with her kindness; it is an example of how Jesus resides in all of us regardless of our station in life. The other members of the group asked the people they approached if they had any words of wisdom to impart. The answers they received strengthened their faith in the goodness and humanity. They are ready and willing to return again, following Our Lord’s command [from the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 25],” Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of my brethren, you did it to me.”

Submitted by Salma Vahdat

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