Faith in Brooklyn for January 29

January 29, 2014 By Francesca Norsen Tate, Religion Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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New York Landmarks Conservancy Announces Challenge Grant to Brown Memorial Church

Brown Memorial Baptist Church in Bedford-Stuyvesant has received Robert W. Wilson Sacred Sites Challenge Grant from the New York Landmarks Conservancy.

This is one of 13 Sacred Sites Grants from the Conservancy, with $200,000 being awarded to historic religious properties across New York State. Brown Memorial Church is getting a $40,000 Challenge Grant to assist with the restoration of its Tiffany window.

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“Religious institutions are worth saving for their beauty and history alone,” said Peg Breen, president of the New York Landmarks Conservancy. “But maintaining them also allows congregations to provide social service, educational and cultural programs to the wider community. That’s why the Landmarks Conservancy has been proud to help restore hundreds of religious buildings throughout the state for more than 25 years.”

Designed by Brooklyn resident Ebenezer Roberts and constructed in 1860 as the Washington Avenue Baptist Church, the building is an example of the Romanesque Revival style. The red brick structure dominates the corner of Washington and Gates avenues in Bedford-Stuyvesant, and it features brownstone pinnacles, crenellated tower and several large Tiffany-stained glass windows. A comprehensive interior restoration, along with roof replacement, was completed in 2011. The congregation that occupies this sanctuary moved here in 1958.

Brown Memorial Baptist has a large and active membership. The congregation provides many community services, including a food pantry, senior and youth programs. Health advisory meetings, emergency housing and legal services are also among the ministries offered. The church hosts meetings for neighborhood committees, school groups and clubs.

The New York Landmarks Conservancy has led the effort to preserve and protect New York City’s architectural legacy for 40 years. Since its founding, the Conservancy has loaned and granted more than $40 million, which has leveraged more than $1 billion in 1,550 restoration projects throughout New York, revitalizing communities, providing economic stimulus and supporting local jobs. The Conservancy has also offered countless hours of pro bono technical advice to building owners, both nonprofit organizations and individuals.

The Conservancy expresses ongoing gratitude to the late Robert W. Wilson for his generous support of its Sacred Sites program.  His gifts have helped some 120 religious institutions across the state with major restoration projects.
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Milestones in Faith:

Brown Memorial Baptist Church

The building that today houses Brown Memorial Baptist Church, recipient of a Robert W. Wilson Challenge Grant, was once the Washington Avenue Baptist Church; but Brown Memorial has its own history as a congregation.

The congregation of Brown Memorial was established in 1916, when former members of Berean Baptist Church decided to form a new church, and named it in memory of a former pastor of Berean, the Rev. Leonard Joseph Brown, according to a congregational history on its website.

Brown Memorial made its home in other locations before moving to its present site at 484 Washington Avenue, near Gates Ave. The Rev. J.D. Gordon, as pastor during 1921-23, helping membership grow, and Brown Memorial purchased property at 629-31 Herkimer St. dedicating the location on March 25, 1922 and church historical records indicate that the first service was held on “Sunday, April 4, 1922.” [Editor’s Note: According to perpetual calendars online and in family records, in 1922 April 4 fell on a Tuesday.]

Brown Memorial continued to flourish under the pastorates of the Rev. Porter W. Phillips and the Rev. George W. Thomas, who was unanimously called to lead the church on July 5, 1938. It was under Pastor Thomas’ long tenure that the church purchased its present home at 484 Washington Avenue, for $80,000. (The sale price meant that the church still had $10,000 in its treasury.). During Pastor Thomas’ tenure, major renovation projects were completed and the church was able to buy additional property for $152,000 which made possible an educational and recreational facility. The congregational history states, “The long and rewarding spiritual leadership of Rev. George W. Thomas regrettably ended with his passing on January 10, 1973.”

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House of the Lord Church Ordains, Installs Karen Daughtry As Next Pastor

Another Brooklyn congregation with a vibrant history recently celebrated a milestone. The House of the Lord Church installed the Rev. Dr. Karen S. Daughtry as its next pastor. She takes the mantle from her husband, the Rev. Dr. Herbert D. Daughtry, who is now overseeing the national growth of the House of the Lord Churches as National Presiding Minister. He has held this post concurrently for many years with his pastorship here.

This Pentecostal congregation at 415 Atlantic Ave. in Boerum Hill has a long history of social justice, beginning with the church’s origins in 1930. The House of the Lord was an offshoot of the House of Prayer for all People in Augusta, Georgia, whose leader was Bishop Marcelino da Graca, familiarly known as Bishop Grace. The House of the Lord’s history describes a conflict in which Alonzo Daughtry believed that only Christ, rather than Bishop Grace, deserved to be so highly praised and exalted. The Bishop considered this an affront to his authority; but others joined Daughtry and, together, they established The House of the Lord and Church on the Mount. In 1942, Alonzo Daughtry, now a bishop, founded churches in Harlem and Brooklyn.

Fast forward to in 1958, in fulfillment of his father’s prophecy, Herbert Daniel Daughtry, born the fourth son of Bishop Alonzo Daughtry in 1931, was ordained and installed as Pastor of the Brooklyn church. About a year later, he became the Church’s third National Presiding Minister, in which capacity he still serves. During his tenure, the Church has expanded its reach, establishing congregations in various cities throughout the United States. And House of the Lord Churches express a very strong commitment to social justice, racial equality and political action.
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Dr. James A. Forbes Preaches At Karen Daughtry’s Installation

The guest preacher at Dr. Karen Daughtry’s installation as pastor was a famed minister in his own right: the Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes, Jr., longtime senior minister at the historic multicultural Riverside Church in Manhattan and its first African-American pastor. Dr. Forbes is now president and founder of the Healing of the Nations Foundation, a non-partisan interfaith non-profit that “seeks to broaden the awareness of the inter-relatedness of physical, emotional, mental, spiritual and community health,” according to the installation service booklet. Dr. Forbes is also acclaimed as the “preacher’s preacher.”

Using the first chapter of Joshua as his text, Dr. Forbes pointed out the emphasis placed on the phrase found in verses 6, 7, 9 and 18: “Be strong and of good courage…Be not afraid, neither be not dismayed, for the Lord God is with you.”

Dr. Forbes said, “The verses are basically saying the same thing. Of an 18 verse chapter, he puts out to the congregation, “Doesn’t it put you on a wonder? Why should this be presented 4 times in a chapter that has only 18 verses? This chapter is the right chapter to present a message on the occasion of transition of leadership from the Rev. Herbert Daughtry to the leadership of the Rev. Dr. Karen Daughtry at the House of the Lord Church.”

Modulating his voice from soft-spoken to powerful, Dr. Forbes in his characteristically expressive way told Dr. Karen Daughtry and the congregation that as the “mantle of leadership” passes to her, she is coming “out of the shadow” of her husband, whom she has served ably all these years. Saying that “this church has always had the courage to speak truth to power,” he also challenged her to keep “people inside”—the congregation—in line. “How many children did you have—four? If you can’t make them do it—how do you GET them to do it? You’re a mama, so I think you understand!” he said, to much laughter. That’s also what happens to people in church. That happens with the church. It’s called ‘giving them love.’  This is the power you are going to need.

“You’ve got to help the outside, you’ve got to help the inside. You’ve got to get the insiders behave on the inside. You’ve got to get the insiders to go with you outside.”

At one point, Fr. Forbes came down from the pulpit and continued speaking to Pastor Daughtry and the congregation from the floor. A dialogue grew between preacher and congregation.

“The reason you have to be courageous because a leader of God is never truly able to model ministry after what somebody else has done. A leader of God has to stand up, but first of all listen up, to the voice of God. And for you to be able to hear God say one thing, that is different from what the other folks are saying, and have the courage to stand and say ‘this is what the Lord has revealed to me, and this is the way I’m going to go.’  That is going to be a hard job. Fundamentally, ministry is about doing what the Lord says.”

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Brooklyn’s Poet Laureate Tina Chang Is Featured Performer at Pre-Valentine Event

St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church hosts a pre-Valentine event, bringing in poets and musicians to celebrate this vital aspect of living. The parish, which participated in the Brooklyn Book Festival, now presents Brooklyn’s Poet Laureate Tina Chang.

The audience will be invited to feast on words of love as Chang joins other local poets and musicians for “Tell Me About Love,” the first event under the banner of “The Forum at St. Ann’s. The Forum is a series of cultural programs designed to engage members of the larger community of St. Ann & the Holy Trinity in conversation about ideas, culture and civic life. St. Ann’s will invite authors, artists and performers whose work examines subjects that matter to modern people, such as immigration, climate change, gun violence, marriage equality and income inequality. Broad themes, including love and loss, will also be addressed through a range of media.

According to Tina Chang’s website, she is the first woman to be named as Poet Laureate of Brooklyn. She was raised in New York City and teaches poetry at Sarah Lawrence College. She’s also an international faculty member at the City University at Hong Kong.

Chang is the author of the poetry collections Half-Lit Houses and Of Gods & Strangers (Four Way Books) and co-editor of the anthology Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia and Beyond (W.W. Norton, 2008) along with Nathalie Handal and Ravi Shankar. Her poems have appeared in American Poet, McSweeney’s, Ploughshares and The New York Times among others.

Chang’s work has also been anthologized in Identity Lessons, Poetry Nation, Asian American Literature and Asian American Poetry: The Next Generation, From the Fishouse: An Anthology of Poems and in Poetry 30: Poets in Their Thirties. She has received awards from the Academy of American Poets, the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation, the New York Foundation for the Arts, Poets & Writers and the Van Lier Foundation among others.

Joining Tina Chang around the table to share their work at Tell Me About Love are a host of celebrated authors, including Ariana Reines, Annie Lanzillotto, Ronna Lebo, Boni Joi, Joon Oluchi Lee and Billy Lopez. Members of the public are invited to bring short original or famous poems to read at the event.

Performances by musicians Ryan Hobler and Nick Balaban will round out the evening’s offerings. Light food and drink will be served.

“Tell Me About Love” begins at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 13, and takes place in the Parish Hall of St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church, 157 Montague St. just before Clinton. A suggested donation of $10.00 is requested to support St. Ann’s and parish outreach programs that address hunger and poverty locally and globally.

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Catholic Charities Dedicates Dr. Elizabeth Lutas Center

Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens, along with its partners, the New York City Department of Homeless Services and the New York City Administration for Children’s Services, recently celebrated the dedication of the Dr. Elizabeth Lutas Center on Thursday, home to CCBQ’s Brooklyn Homebase Homelessness Prevention and East New York Family Support Programs.

During the 12-month period that the location at 3060 Fulton Street has been open, the Lutas Center has served 775 families in the East New York and Canarsie communities. During 2014, the center hopes to serve more than 1,100 families through the combined efforts.

On Thursday, the center was dedicated in honor of Dr. Elizabeth Lutas, a longtime supporter of Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens and a doctor of Internal Medicine for the past 37 years. Dr. Lutas has dedicated 22 years as a physician in homeless shelters in New York City and three years at a community health center serving mostly undocumented immigrants. She currently works in a health center in the Bronx, caring for individuals who are homeless and struggling with AIDS. She directed a homeless program for 12 years at her parish, Saint Teresa’s Roman Catholic Church in Queens. She serves her parish also as a lector, Eucharistic minister and religious education teacher.

A graduate from New York University School of Medicine, and fellow of the American College of Physicians and the American College of Cardiology, Dr. Lutas was the first recipient of the CARE USA Award for Philanthropy in 1998. A first-responder during September 11, Dr. Lutas was immediately placed in charge of triage and medicine at the FEMA staging hospital where the injured were first transported.

Among those who gave remarks at the event were: Robert Siebel, the Chief Executive Officer of Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens and Affiliated Agencies; Ellen Howard-Cooper, the Deputy Commissioner of Prevention, Policy and Planning for the New York City Department of Homeless Services; and Beverly James, the Associate Commissioner for Family Support Services in the Division of Family Support Services for the New York City Administration for Children’s Services. Georgette Martinez and Jahmina Stephens, current clients from the Dr. Elizabeth Lutas Center also provided testimonials. New York City Councilman Rafael Espinal (D-37th District) also spoke. Msgr. Denis Herron, a long-time friend of Dr. Lutas, blessed the center.

The Catholic Charities Homebase Homelessness Prevention program opened eight years ago, with its first program located in Jamaica, Queens. The Dr. Elizabeth Lutas Center is the Brooklyn counterpart.

“The services offered within these walls make a vital difference in the lives of countless families here in Brooklyn,” said Siebel. “For our families who are going through difficult times, this Center provides services to help strengthen families and keep children safe through our efforts and with valued partnerships with day care providers, substance abuse assistance programs and employment job training. It is only fitting we name this program in honor of Dr. Elizabeth Lutas, a woman who has selflessly devoted her career to helping those in need and who is referred to by her friends as a ‘saint.’”

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Two Inducted Into Church’s Francis Vinton Society

Grace Church-Brooklyn Heights recently inducted longtime parishioners Thomas Chittenden and Ann Gaffney into the Francis Vinton Society, during the congregation’s annual meeting earlier this month.

The Francis Vinton Society, named for Grace Church’s first rector, was established in 2010; and this year, the fifth consecutive set of honorees were inducted. The Rev. Stephen D. Muncie, rector of Grace Church, said, “After my arrival at Grace, I knew I wanted to establish a society to honor parishioners who have exercised commendable and distinguished leadership in our congregation.  The dedication of faithful churchmen and churchwomen inspire all of us in our ministries….Francis Vinton was our first rector. His visionary leadership contributed to the organization of Grace Church in 1847 and the construction of this beautiful church several years later.”

Vinton Society honorees have typically contributed to parish life for many years—often decades—serving in a variety of ways. Chittenden is currently serving his closing year as senior warden of Grace Church. Ann Gaffney, also well known to the Brooklyn Heights community for her artistry, was not able to attend the ceremony. She will be presented with her plaque at a later time.

The inaugural year Vinton Society inductees were Lynn Vardakis and Bronson Binger. Other honorees include Lois Osborne, Vernon Vig, Charles Cole, Anita Yglesias (honored posthumously), her husband, Jim, who, in 2013 was inducted along with Dorothy Pilch.

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