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Brooklyn Religion Newsbriefs: May 22

May 22, 2013 By Francesca Norsen Tate, Religion Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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Girl Be Heard Theatre Ensemble Premieres Show about Gun Violence

The dramatic ensemble Girl Be Heard will debut a new show, 9mm America, in an effort to stop gun violence. The playwrights and performers are ten girls, ages 14 to 23, who live in NYC neighborhoods where gun violence is a daily threat.

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Joining Girl Be Heard’s cause for the June 1 premiere are several celebrities, including Nigel Barker, Lynn Nottage, Kathy Najimy and Abby Disney, who will lead celebrity talk-backs. The Planet Connections Theatre Festivity presents this premiere at the Robert Moss Theatre at 440 Lafayette Street, just south of Astor St., and a block west of the 8th St-NYU subway station on Broadway.

According the website,, 9mm America “explores America’s culture of violence as it affects ten young women. A documentary theatre piece devised from direct experience with gangs on the streets of East New York to the shooting death of a sibling in Boston, 9mm America is a call to action to demand an end to gun violence.”

This theatrical uprising to stop gun violence is the story of 10 girls, told through spoken word, dancing and original songs. “The recent events in Newtown, Connecticut shed new light on a problem that Girl Be Heard members face on a daily basis—gun violence in their own backyard,” says Girl Be Heard’s Executive Director Jessica Greer Morris. And Naeemah Cooks-Faulk, Age 18, from East New York says, “No one knows Linden Projects in Brooklyn. They only know my neighborhood as ‘4CD,’ which stands for the Four Corners of Death since so many people die on these streets from gun violence.”

Girl Be Heard’s website states as part of its mission, “Our Promise to Girls: “If a girl can change her own life, she can change the lives of girls everywhere. Girl Be Heard creates a world for young women to find strength, realize their potential, and rise above their circumstances and society’s expectations of them.

“Girl Be Heard uses theater as our vehicle to empower young women to become brave, confident, socially conscious leaders and explore their own challenging circumstances.”

Girl Be Heard has strong Brooklyn connections—and not just from the girls. Executive Director Jessica Greer Morris is a Brooklyn Heights resident. Moreover, Congregation Mount Sinai is a key supporter of the ensemble from when it bore its original name, Project Girl Collective. The synagogue, in Brooklyn Heights, opened its doors and gave a home and rehearsal space to the troupe when it was just getting started. Rabbi Joseph Potasnik and congregants Marilyn Noble and Jane Paull were all leaders in planning a fundraiser at Mount Sinai in 2012.  And the year before, Girl Be Heard performed at a program on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade commemorating the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

From New York stages to the White House, productions of Girl Be Heard inspire audiences to become change-makers in their communities under leadership of Artistic Director Ashley Marinaccio, who was just awarded the League of Professional Theatre Women’s 2013 Lucille Lortel Women’s Visionary Award. Gloria Steinem, a longtime supporter of Girl Be Heard, invites audiences to “join in the truth-telling as told by clear voices of girls before pretense or pressure have quieted them.”  Huffington Post calls Girl Be Heard “fearless, political theatre,” Ebony Magazine lauds their “can’t miss” productions and The New Yorker praises Girl Be Heard’s “bright, confident young women holding forth on stage.”

Girl Be Heard has also performed at the State Department, United Nations, TED Conferences, and on national tours.

Moreover, Girl Be Heard shows, workshops and education curriculum are also brought to public schools, universities, community centers and conferences to raise awareness about human rights issues affecting women and girls.

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Jehovah’s Witnesses Convention Focuses On Trusting God’s Word as Truth

Even if they have moved much of their operations elsewhere, the Jehovah’s Witnesses still have a presence in Brooklyn.

Last weekend, May 17-19, Jehovah’s Witnesses held the “God’s Word is Truth!” convention at its Brooklyn Assembly Hall. The convention highlighted why people can trust God’s Word as found in the Bible. Program segments encouraged self-scrutiny and reflection, and amounted to a three-day examination of the truthfulness of God’s Word. Participants were encouraged to trust God’s Word to help them make wise decisions, improve family life, strengthen their personal relationship with God, and find true happiness. Two dramatic plays based on Bible stories were presented, offering valuable lessons for the attendees.

The peak attendance was 2,095. The community rejoiced as they witnessed the baptisms of nine individuals.

Jehovah’s Witnesses invite everyone to attend future conventions that will be held at the same location, each Friday to Sunday, consecutively until September 6-8. The program sessions for all three days of each weekend will begin at 9:20 a.m. Admission is free. Conventions of Jehovah’s Witnesses are supported entirely by voluntary donations.

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Artist Newsmakers

Karen Loew’s ‘Cleaning Up After Sandy’ Accepted into 2013 Coast Guard Exhibit

For many years, artist Karen Loew, a member of Grace Church, has participated in the Coast Guard Art Program, in which artists donate their paintings or prints depicting the United States Coast Guard in its multi-faceted work—from rescue missions to protecting the environment.

The Salmagundi Club of New York, a center for American art and culture for over 140 years, co-sponsors COGAP.  Each year, a three-member jury selects pieces to include in the COGAP collection from submissions by the program’s talented cadre of volunteer professional artist members.  COGAP uses fine art as an outreach tool for educating diverse audiences about the United States Coast Guard. Through public displays at museums, galleries, libraries, and patriotic events, Coast Guard art tells the story of the service’s unique contribution to the nation in its many roles as a military, humanitarian and law enforcement organization. All artwork accepted is donated to the United States Coast Guard.

Loew’s oil on canvas, “Cleaning Up After Hurricane Sandy,” has been accepted into the Coast Guard Art Program (COGAP)’s Collection 2013. The painting depicts a Coast Guard Damage Controlman with the Pacific Strike Team working on the dewatering of the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel (formerly the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel).

The Inaugural Exhibition for the 29 new paintings by 23 artists will be at Salmagundi Club, 47 Fifth Avenue near 12th St. in Manhattan, from May 26 through June 14. Free and Open to the Public. Gallery Hours: Monday 1-8 p.m., Tuesday through Friday 1-6 p.m.; Saturday & Sunday 1-5 p.m. The gallery is closed on Memorial Day to honor all members of the armed forces.

Readers wishing to learn more about COGAP and the Salmagundi Club may visit the websites and

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First Presbyterian Church’s Patricia Watwood has her art show, “Venus Apocalypse,” opening at Dacia Gallery, in Manhattan, on June 6. This exhibit will feature a collection of paintings and drawings which further explore the visual territory she began developing with “Pandora.” The figures, mythological in origin, are a metaphor for the present moment of crisis and change in the world, and the re-emergence of classical figuration in contemporary art.

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Popular ‘REEL FAITH’ Movie Review Show Returns to Catholic Television Here

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn begins a new season of “Action-Packed Movie Reviews Through a Catholic Lens.”

Do Hollywood and independent filmmakers know that Catholics comprise one of the largest sectors of their U.S. marketplace? Nearly 78 million Americans are Catholic, 25% of the U.S. population. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, knowing this demographic, begins its fourth season of its movie review show REEL FAITH, on New Evangelization Television (NET) this Friday.

Dubbed the “Catholic Siskel and Ebert,” David DiCerto (former film critic for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Office for Film and Broadcasting) and Steven Greydanus (film critic for the National Catholic Register and creator of host REEL FAITH with the vision of spreading the Gospel message while encouraging greater film literacy.

The new season of REEL FAITH will feature a tribute to the late Roger Ebert, who greatly influenced both hosts.

“So much of what we do on the show was inspired by Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel,” says DiCerto. “They helped bring the conversation down from the lofty citadels of cineastes and infused it with an everyman accessibility, introducing ‘two thumbs up’ into our pop-culture lexicon. When pitching the show to NET, they were the template. We just gave it a unique faith twist.”

Each week, REEL FAITH takes a look at Hollywood’s biggest films and independent releases, uniquely through a Catholic lens. With the help of film scholar Father Robert Lauder, a regular contributor to Brooklyn’s diocesan newspaper, The Tablet, REEL FAITH also introduces viewers to motion picture classics by highlighting “Movies with a Message.”

“Catholic film reviewing has been around for as long as the movies themselves, but we’ve been slow to bring it to the screen, which is ideal for a visual medium like movies. The Church has always been aware of the power of images and on REEL FAITH we can interact with the movies we’re reviewing in a way you can’t do in writing. It’s almost a more Catholic way of reviewing movies,” says Greydanus.

REEL FAITH is in production now, with DiCerto and Greydanus reviewing highly anticipated adaptations of comic book classics such as Marvel’s Iron Man 3 and DC’s latest film incarnation of Superman in Man of Steel; big-budget sequels like Star Trek Into Darkness, Fast and the Furious 6, and The Hangover, Part 3; plus family fare including Despicable Me 2, Epic, Disney’s Planes, and Pixar’s Monster’s University, a prequel to their 2001 hit, Monsters Inc.

REEL FAITH’s season premiere, on May 24 at 8 p.m. EDT, also features a recap of some current movies, including the Jackie Robinson story 42, the theatrical adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, and director Terrence Malick’s To The Wonder.

P eople around the world can tune-in by clicking the “Watch Now” button at; REEL FAITH airs on Cablevision Channel 30 and Time Warner Cable Channel 97 in the New York metro area; and across the USA NET programs are on Verizon FiOS On Demand. To watch REEL FAITH on Verizon FiOS, select the “Religion” folder, then “NET Catholic.” 

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