Brooklyn Religion Briefs for June 5

June 5, 2013 By Francesca Norsen Tate Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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Festivals Spotlight Cuisines Of Mediterranean Lands

All this week, Schermerhorn St. in Brooklyn becomes a center of Greek culture. Saints Constantine & Helen Cathedral, which just celebrated its centennial two weeks ago, invites everyone to “Eat Well, Dance and Be Greek.”

This Greek Festival, which opened at noon on Monday despite rain, features culinary and musical delights, including traditional dancing on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.  Festival-goers can listen to continuous Greek music, participate in tours of the sanctuary and visit the “Village Market” of art and jewelry in the church basement, or even admire the beautiful mural behind the pastry counter.

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Festival special events, according to a booklet available at the fair, include Greek Dance performances on Wednesday, June 5 at 7 p.m., and Friday- Saturday at 9 p.m.. Children’s activities will be offered Thursday, June 6 from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m., and on Saturday, June 7 from 2 p.m. until midnight. Tours of the church will be given through Sunday, June 9 at noon, 1 and 2 p.m., and will resume with hourly sets at 5, 6 and 7 p.m.

The sixth and seventh graders of A. Fantis Parochial School (established in 1963) will present Euripides’ drama The Trojan Women. Vicky Paritoglou directs this play, written in 415 B.C.E., about the fates of the women of Troy after the pillaging of their city, murder of their husbands and enslavement of their families.

The A. Fantis School educates students in Orthodox Christian values, Greek language, culture and civilization as well as the core disciplines of English, math and science. The school recently opened its new library and media center.
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“Celebrate the Flavors of Lebanon”

Part of the joy of trying a new food—or a beloved favorite—is watching its preparation, as pictured. Christiane and Bill prepare fresh Sajj, named for the special oven on which these flat breads are cooked.  These flat breads, also called Man’oushi are a popular feature at Our Lady of Lebanon’s annual Lebanese Festival last Saturday. Here, they prepare a Lahm b’Ajeen Flat Meat Pie with sautéed meat, pine nuts, onions and lemon juice; and a Combo Zaatar and Cheese Man’oushi. Other popular meal choices were the various meat and vegetarian platters with choices of kebabs, kufeth (lamb meatballs), falafel and tabouli.

The Lebanese Festival also offered non-culinary attractions: in addition to live music and games, the clergy and lay leaders gave tours of the cathedral.
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Brooklyn Heights Synagogue Celebrates Pride Month

The Brooklyn Heights Synagogue supports Pride month with a special celebration of its Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning friends, families and allies.

The synagogue’s Pride Shabbat Evening Service takes place Friday, June 14, with a light snack and wine at 6 p.m., and candle lighting and liturgy at 6:30. Guests are Rabbi Nikki DeBlosi, performance artist and rabbi at NYU’s Bronfman Center; and Marc Solomon, National Campaign Director for Freedom to Marry.

Rabbi Serge Lippe, Rabbi Molly Kane and Cantor Nancy Bach will lead services. The celebration of Shabbat will continue with a festive oneg (reception). This event is free and open to the public.

Founded in 1960, the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue (131 Remsen St.), provides a warm, inclusive, Jewishly diverse congregational community dedicated to lifelong learning and to caring for the world and each other.The BHS community valuess the diverse ways in which members express their Jewish identities and maintain an abiding respect for the traditions of the Jewish people. Its 450 member households live throughout the Brownstone Brooklyn neighborhoods, Lower Manhattan and other neighborhoods throughout New York City.
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Synagogue Hosts Interfaith Study Of Biblical Patriarch Abraham

“Who is Abraham?” or “Whose Abraham?” is the theme of an interfaith exploration of the Biblical patriarch of three major religious traditions.

Rabbi Serge Lippe of the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue and the Rev. Stephen D. Muncie of Grace Church-Brooklyn Heights jointly present this exploration of how Jewish and Christian Scriptures represent and understand their common founding father. Acclaimed as the common ancestor and wellspring of the great Abrahamic faiths of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, is Abraham really the easy going and malleable character portrayed by modern efforts in inter religious dialogue?

Participants will examine passages from the Torah’s Book of Genesis, the Epistles from the Christian New Testament, and the Jewish Midrash writings for a contrastive reading and examination of how different sacred texts present, work and re-work this ancient archetype of deeds and/or faith.

All texts will be provided and studied in English translation. The Brooklyn Heights Synagogue (131 Remsen St.) hosts this event, on Wednesday, June 19 from 7:30 to 9 p.m. RSVP is needed; readers wishing to attend should call the synagogue office at 718-522-2070.
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Cycles of Ministry

St. John’s Church Bids Farewell To Fr. Powers as He Retires

The Rev. Clark Powers, the rector and spiritual leader of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Park Slope, retired June 2, 2013, after 26 years of service on. Fr. Powers, in addition to his clerical role, has been a wonderful friend and neighbor to the people in the Park Slope community. The St. Johns Place Community Association thanked Fr. Powers for his active participation in the group since its inception and especially because he enabled them the SJPCA to hold meetings at the church regularly. Several members of the SJPCA board presented Fr. Powers with a framed wall portrait of himself in full clerical vestments. SJPCA board member Paul Bernstein took this portrait last year, just prior to the 185th anniversary party celebrating the founding of St. Johns Church. The portrait was presented to Fr. Powers at his retirement party on Sunday.

Paul Bernstein, a professional photographer and longtime Park Slope resident, also had the honor of photographing Fr. Powers in 1987 when he was first appointed rector.

Immediate before the party, St.  John’s Church presented a Solemn Choral Evensong in celebration of Fr. Powers’ ministry.
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Grace Church Parishioner Is Among New Deacons Ordained

The Episcopal Diocese of Long Island ordained Brooklynite Marie Tatro, Lauren McLeavey and Frederic Miller into the Transitional Diaconate at the Cathedral of the Incarnation in Garden City last Saturday, June 1.

The Rev. Marie Tatro entered the discernment process from her home parish, Grace Church-Brooklyn Heights. There she was active in several ministries before starting seminary work. She holds a Juris Doctor degree from C.U.N.Y. Law School, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Amherst College.  Before earning her master of divinity (M.Div) degree from General Theological Seminary last month, Tatro worked as an attorney in non-profit organizations representing low-income New Yorkers.  She also conducted trainings and served in several coalitions, especially pertaining to HIV/AIDS policies.

Having worked as a poverty law attorney and coming to know the communities really well from the perspective of their social and legal issues, Tatro continues to be surprised by the embracing and accepting nature of different communities especially within her home parish and her field parish of St. Stephen and St. Martin’s Church, also in Brooklyn.

The General Theological Seminary awarded The J. Wilson Sutton Prize to Deacon Tatro. This prize is given to a graduating M.Div or M.A. student with the best thesis.

The homilist also has a connection to Grace Church-Brooklyn Heights. The Very Rev. Canon John P. McGinty, Ph.D., Canon for Formation and Dean of The Mercer School, served at Grace Church as an assisting priest for two years until starting his current post. He reminded the ordinands that becoming deacons. He said that serving the poor and disenfranchised, which is the traditional role of the diaconate, is a life-transforming experience. Deacon Tatro brings her skills and experience as a poverty law attorney into her new ministry.
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Organ Curator Describes Adventures In Restoring Abandoned Instrument

The rescue of an historic church organ in Brooklyn is the topic of Keith Bigger’s talk at the Society of Old Brooklynites this Wednesday.

Keith Bigger is a board member of the American Guild of Organists-Brooklyn Chapter and organ curator at The Baptist Temple in Boerum Hill. He will give a slide lecture titled“How to do the impossible in one easy lesson,” a chronicle about the discovery, removal and restoration of a Pilcher Organ built in 1901.

William and Charles Pilcher in Brooklyn, NY built the instrument for a small Lutheran church, also in Brooklyn. [Editor’s Note: The name of the church was not available as of press time.]

According to the company’s website, Wm. & Chas. Pilcher Co. only made a few organs, and even fewer are extant. The organ suffered from neglect and by the 1950s, the synergistic effect of rotting material, dirt and leaking water made the instrument unusable. Worse, the church building was sold in 1964 to a congregation who had no use for church organs.

Keith Bigger worked with Ric Parsons to restore the organ, whose future brightened this year.

According to the newsletter, Ethan Fogg, Director of Community Relations at the Spa Apartments at Clifton Springs Hospital, was searching for a historic pipe organ to install in the chapel in the Spa Apartments building adjacent to the Hospital. He called Ric Parsons, and both the instrument and the hospital were matched.

Keith Bigger’s talk begins at 6:30 p.m. on June 5 at Brooklyn Borough Hall.
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Poetry Reading Spotlights New Anthology, ‘Sheltering in Place’

Poet Christine Potter will present a reading at St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church next weekend.

Ms. Potter, a friend of the parish, has just published her second collection of verse, Sheltering in Place. She explains that her anthology is about “growing up in the 60’s, crazy weather patterns, romantic disappointments—and a happy marriage.”

The poetry reading begins at 4 p.m. on Sunday, June 16. This event is free and open to the public. St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church is at Clinton and Montague streets in Brooklyn Heights.
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St. John’s Episcopal Church, Park Slope

St. John’s Episcopal Church in Park Slope marked two milestones this past Sunday, June 2: the farewell to its rector of 26 years and its founding. The Rev. Clark Powers, who retired from the parish, explained during the service that the parish has traditionally celebrated its anniversary on the first Sunday in June.

Fr. Powers and the parish wrote and published Our Story, Saint John’s Episcopal Church in 2010. The parish history begins in the period where indigenous peoples, the Lenape, occupied the lands that the Dutch and English settlers would soon claim. Illustrated with historic sketches and photos by Fr. Powers, Paul Bernstein and Caryn Benjamin, Our Story brings the reader into the present and describes the importance of each ministry within the St. John’s community.

The establishment of a new congregation is often a community effort. St. John’s is unique in that one person planned, erected and paid for the building at his own expense: the Reverend Evan Malbone Johnson, who became the first the church’s first Rector. He operated the church at his own expense until the congregation purchased it in 1832. He also worked without pay for the first 20 years of his rectorship. According to features on that were used as sources for Our History, Rev. Johnson was not that wealthy; and the church survived by building and other loans, plus meticulous care and management.

Moreover, the parish’s Mission Statement points out that Rev. Johnson, being a strong opponent of slavery, planned and built St. John’s as a multiracial parish in 1826, while slavery was still legal in New York State.  To this day, St. John’s Church remains committed to its multiracial diverse heritage, welcoming all to deeper unity with God and each other.

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