Faith In Brooklyn for December 5

December 5, 2013 By Francesca Norsen-Tate, Religion Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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Clinton Hill Churches Join Forces For World AIDS Day Service

Solemnity mingled with joy on Sunday, Dec. 1, as two Clinton Hill congregations joined forces for World AIDS Day and the re-opening of a church that had been damaged in a fire.

The Church of St. Luke & St. Matthew, an Episcopal parish on Clinton Avenue, marked the re-opening and re-dedication of its sanctuary following several months of repairs. The church building had been damaged during a Dec. 23, 2012 fire that was ruled as arson. During the time of the repairs, the congregation worshipped in the Upper Parish Hall.

St. Luke & St. Matthew already had built a strong friendship and joined forces on social justice issues with Brown Memorial Baptist Church, about four blocks away on Washington Avenue. During comments that prefaced his sermon, the Rev. Clinton Miller, pastor of Brown Memorial Church, said, “it’s an historical day because this is the dedication of their sanctuary. The highlight is the fact that we get a chance to worship together in the new space. We have worked together on the outside of the church to protest, and to advocate for affordable housing and more….in our borough. But I believe now, that we have worshiped inside the church, that our protests next time around will be that much stronger.”

The two congregations participated in a joint interfaith service with the Eucharistic Prayer and Communion, which was open to all baptized Christians. The service began on a solemn tone, with the performance of composer John Steinmetz’s Lament, Bassoon Sonata that is normally played at St. Luke & St. Matthew Church on Good Friday. During the Lament, with bassoonist Tamara Plummer and music director/accompanist Bob Rogers, worshipers were invited to name their those loved ones who had died from AIDS.

During a post-liturgy reception, P. Wayne Mahlke, chairman of the Episcopal Response to AIDS, presented several grants to churches in metropolitan New York. St. George’s Episcopal Church on Marcy Ave. in Bedford-Stuyvesant, which operates a HIV/AIDS Awareness Ministry with an emphasis on education and prevention, was among the recipients.
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‘The Healing Is in the Journey,’ Proclaims Rev. Clinton Miller

The Rev. Clinton Miller, pastor of Brown Memorial Baptist Church, preached a homily, based on Luke’s Gospel passage about the Ten Lepers, which wove together the two themes of the above-mentioned interfaith World AIDS Day and Re-dedication service.

“There is healing in the journey,” Pastor Miller proclaimed as the homily’s theme.

“Jesus was familiar with Jerusalem and Galilee. But, socially speaking, Jesus was not as familiar with Samaria,” he said.

“What that points us to, my brothers and sisters, immediately, is that if we’re going to be ministers, if we’re going to help people, if we’re going to be a blessing to others as God gives blessings to us, we have to assign ourselves to do ministry in places that we’re familiar with, and in places we are not familiar with.”

Pointing out the rift between the Judeans of that period, and those who lived in Samaria, Pastor Miller said, “It’s easy to minister to those who you know. It’s easy to minister to those who look like you, who have the same background as you…We’re not truly bona fide to fight for Jesus, until we can do the work of God in places that we’re not too familiar with. That’s the first point of this text…”

“Then a curious text excites my homiletical soul,” Pastor Miller said. “They did not have to wait to get to the priest to be healed. They did not have to wait to arrive at the doctor for healing to take place.

“We are all on a journey to whatever destination we have. But healing doesn’t always come at the END of the destination. A lot of times for us, the healing comes somewhere between where we start and where we end up. Someone who’s suffering with HIV, it doesn’t mean that healing comes with the cure. It comes as we decide to step out and follow the commandments of Jesus. The healing is in the journey,” he emphasized.

On Sunday morning, as part of the daylong commemoration and pulpit exchange, the Rev. Chris Ballard preached at Brown Memorial Church. He is the Associate Rector at St. Luke & St. Matthew Church.

Participants in both the Dec. 1 services included the Rev. Michael Sniffen, rector of St. Luke & St. Matthew, Fr. Ballard, the Rev. Howard Blunt, Assisting Priest and the Rev. Edwin Chase, coordinator of Hispanic Ministries, as well as clergy from Brown Memorial.

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Rededication of Sanctuary Blends Arts and Music of Two Faith Traditions

Two liturgical dance youth troupes and the combined choirs of the Church of St. Luke & St. Matthew, and Brown Memorial Baptist Church offered artistic highlights of the Re-Dedication service on Sunday.

The troupe Chosen Destiny, pictured here, performed to a standing ovation, with the audience remaining on their feet while the dancers continued their presentation in the center aisle. A second troupe of youth dancers from St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Crown Heights were announced as a surprise extra offering after Communion.

The combined choirs of led soul-inspiring hymns and the offertory anthem, “Total Praise.” Directing them was Bob Rogers, director of music at St. Luke & St. Matthew Church.

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A thurifer senses the gathering during the Recessional at the interfaith service with St. Luke & St. Matthew Episcopal Church and neighboring Brown Memorial Baptist Church on Sunday, Dec. 1. The Rev. K. Jeanne Person, who in past years has served as Associate Rector at Grace Church, and who is an author and spiritual director, remarked right after the service, “the best might have been the Episcopal thurifer swinging 360s as the choir and congregation sang, swayed and clapped to a Baptist hymn, “Lead me, Guide Me Along the Way.”

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More Dancers….This Time Celebrating Chanukah

Rabbi Aaron L. Raskin, leader of Congregation B’nai Avraham in Brooklyn Heights, partnered with Joseph Bochetto, the Branch Manager at New York Community Bank Boro Park branch on 13th Avenue, to light the candles on the seventh night of Chanukah at Brooklyn Borough Hall on Tuesday night. Rabbi Raskin, atop a Con Edison cherry picker, wielded a propane torch to light the 25-foot-tall Rabbi Jacob J. Hecht Menorah. The festivities, sponsored by Chabad of Brooklyn Heights, included exuberant music and dancing, potato pancakes for all and special prizes for the kids.

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Because of a technical glitch, a portion of the caption about Grace Church’s honoring Parish Administrator Sally Larson [November 27] was cut off. The caption should have read:

Looking surprised and deeply moved, Sally Larson (second from left) receives a plaque from Grace Church’s Junior Warden Vivian Toan, as the Rev. Stephen D. Muncie (left) and Senior Warden Tom Chittenden rejoice with her. They also presented Sally with a gift for her personal use and a surprise refurbishing of her office.

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Series on the Messiah Explores Story Of Christ through Beloved Oratorio

The Messiah, as evangelized as Scripture and music, is the theme of a series this Advent, and next Lent, at First Presbyterian Church.

“I did think I did see all heaven before me, and the great God Himself,” Georg Friederich Handel is said to have exclaimed, tears streaming down his face, on the summer day in 1741 when he finished his oratorio, Messiah, after 24 nonstop days of composing.

Participants are invited to deepen their appreciation of the Bible and Handel’s Messiah, one of the most beloved choral works of all time. The Advent/Christmas portion covered Part I of the oratorio’s text, the prophecy and birth of the Messiah, focusing on the choral movement “For Unto Us a Child is Born” on Dec. 4, and “Glory to God in the Highest” on Dec. 11. The series meets on these Wednesdays from 7-8:30 p.m. in the Thurman Room, with refreshments. Many of the texts are from the scriptures of the Hebrew prophets, notably Isaiah and Malachi.

Moreover, the congregation at First Presbyterian Church will have the chance to sing the great choruses of the Christmas portion of Handel’s Messiah during worship on the Third Sunday in Advent, Dec. 15. This Sing-Along Messiah will take place at the 11 a.m. service with soloists performing the arias and recitatives from the oratorio. Worshipers are also welcome to come, sit, and enjoy while others around you sing!

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More Messiah Events:

Congregation Beth Elohim Hosts Interfaith Sing-a-long And Jingle Bell Jamboree

The Messiah oratorio is also at the heart of a popular Brooklyn tradition.

Arts at Old First presents the 2nd Annual Messiah Sing-a-long, a spectacular holiday musical event that brings people from two congregations and around Brooklyn for an interfaith celebration.

Congregation Beth Elohim, a Reform temple on 8th Ave. and Garfield Place in Park Slope, hosts the Messiah Sing-a-long on Thursday, Dec. 12 at 7:30 p.m. Sponsoring the Messiah Sing-a long are Arts at Old First (in exile from Old First Reformed Church, which is undergoing repairs), in partnership with Congregation Beth Elohim, Brooklyn Community Chorus and the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music. Featured performers for the solo movements are: mezzo-soprano Donna Breitzer, countertenor Jeffrey Mandelbaum, tenor Alex Richardson, baritone Jeff Spurgeon; Aleeza Meir (continuo/keyboard) and the Brooklyn Conservatory Community Orchestra. Dorothy Savitch will conduct.

Advance Tickets: $20; at the door: $25 Order through: All proceeds benefit the Old First Restoration Fund.

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Congregation Beth Elohim will also host the popular Jingle Bell Jamboree, this year on Saturday, Dec. 14. The Jingle Bell Jamboree 2013 is part of the interfaith outreach among Old First Reformed Church, Congregation Beth Elohim and the community. This holiday concert and sing-along starts at 7 p.m.

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Jasper String Quartet Presents Concert at Heights Synagogue

Brooklyn Friends of Chamber Music co-sponsors a special concert at the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue this Sunday.

The BHS Arts Committee and Brooklyn Friends of Chamber Music presents the Jasper String Quartet with guest-violist Samuel Rhodes, whose work, String Quintet, will be performed. Rounding out the program are works by Franz Joseph Haydn and Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy. Tickets to the 3 p.m. concert $20 at the door, Students: $10. TDF vouchers are accepted.

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St. Charles Borromeo Church Raises $7,500 for Typhoon Relief

During a holiday weekend when many people were away, St. Charles Borromeo Church raised $7,500 at a benefit concert to help victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, according to the pastor, Fr. Edward Doran.

The Nov. 30 concert featured Philippine folk songs, two original Japanese koto pieces and classical and opera works. The proceeds are being given to Catholic Relief Services for their work in the Philippines.

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Metro World Child Brightens Life For Impoverished Children

Young Bill Wilson’s mother abandoned him at the age of 12, but he transformed this traumatic experience into the building of an international humanitarian effort to help children escape the vicious cycle of poverty, abuse and despair.

Wilson founded Metro World Child in 1980 in Bushwick. A faith-based, international humanitarian organization with headquarters in Brooklyn, Metro World Child serves nearly 100,000 children each week, including more than 20,000 kids across New York City. Metro World Child caught the attention of former President George H.W. Bush who appointed Wilson to serve on the National Commission on America’s Urban Families in 1991. Metro’s influence was also identified as a factor in the noticeable reduction of crime in the Bushwick community, and the organization was featured on ABC’s Nightline.

Metro World Child helps inner-city children living in poverty overcome the challenges and dangers of poverty, gangs, violence, abuse and hopelessness. Much of this outreach is done through Sunday school programs. Every week, Metro’s fleet of buses travels 71 routes across the city’s five boroughs to transport more than 3,000 children to and from Sunday School at its headquarters. Metro World Child’s Sidewalk Sunday School comes to more than 230 public housing communities throughout the five boroughs—and not just on Sundays. Moreover, according to the organization’s website, child sponsorship opportunities are offered worldwide.

As the holiday season approaches, Metro World Child launches Operation Holiday Hope, its annual program to give Christmas gifts to children in need. Last year, the program provided more than 35,000 wrapped Christmas gifts to children living in poverty across New York City. For some, it was the only gift they received.

This year’s Operation Holiday Hope gift distribution takes place at Metro World Child’s Brooklyn headquarters on Dec. 14. They’ll be giving gifts to several thousand children after four Sunday School sessions—yes, on a Saturday! For more information, visit Metro World Child’s website,
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Discussion Will Highlight Two Impassioned Viewpoints on Israel

Two public personalities who disagree passionately on the topic of Israeli invite the community to a conversation about Iran, being held at Congregation Beth Elohim.

David Suissa and Peter Beinart will present their views in a program titled “Debating Israel: In the Shadow of Iran and Beyond.”

Media titan Suissa, president of TRIBE Media Corp and the LA Jewish Journal, is an avowed right-winger. Beinart caused waves in the Jewish community and beyond with the publication of his 2012 book, The Crisis of Zionism, his blog Open Zion, and many writings that are often critical of Israeli policies towards the Palestinians, Iran, US foreign policy and lobby groups. On his website description of The Crisis of Zionism, Beinart posits that, “A dramatic shift is taking place in Israel and America. In Israel, the deepening occupation of the West Bank is putting Israeli democracy at risk. In the United States, the refusal of major Jewish organizations to defend democracy in the Jewish state is alienating many young liberal Jews from Zionism itself. In the next generation, the liberal Zionist dream—the dream of a state that safeguards the Jewish people and cherishes democratic ideals—may die.”

Their talk takes place on Tuesday, Dec. 10 at 7:30 p.m. Congregation Beth Elohim is at 274 Garfield Place in Park Slope. Tickets are available through The suggested price for non-members is $10.
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Series at St. Luke & St. Matthew Will Approach Advent in New Light

During the December Wednesday evenings leading up to Christmas, the Church of St. Luke & St. Matthew in Clinton Hill will offer “The Divine Invasion,” three Experimental Liturgies for Advent.

Various musicians, sound artists and others from the experimental music world join forces with clergy and laity during the darkest season of the year, to provide “spiritual incubation” according to a flyer being distributed online. “The door to sacred time is opening,” reads the flyer. These experimental liturgies will be offered at the parish, 520 Clinton Ave., between Fulton St. and Atlantic Ave., on Wednesdays, Dec. 4, 11 and 18, at 6:30 p.m.
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Milestones in Faith

As Grace Church Marks 165th Year, $5 Million Restoration Plan Progresses

Last Sunday, Grace Church-Brooklyn Heights marked the 165th anniversary of the first service in its then newly-constructed sanctuary. That service was held on Dec. 10, 1848, according to the parish’s history webpage. In recent years, though, Grace Church has been marking this anniversary on the first Sunday in Dec.

The cost of building Grace Church’s current sanctuary, at about $46,700 is only a fraction of the more than $5 million that the parish raised in its capital campaign to replace the roof and electrical wiring in the landmark building at Hicks St. and Grace Court. Progress on the roof and electrical work continues. Moreover, some of the church’s original artwork along the ceiling and walls is being revealed as the brown paint that hid it for so long is being washed away.

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