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Faith In Brooklyn for June 17

June 17, 2014 By Francesca Norsen-Tate, Religion Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Bishop Lawrence Provenzano congratulations Dorothy Pilch, 95, after her graduation from Education for Ministry
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Bishop Provenzano Rededicates Grace Church-Brooklyn Heights

Parish’s First Education for Ministry Class Graduates Eight Members

Pentecost weekend 2014 was a milestone in the history of Grace Church-Brooklyn Heights. The Rt. Reverend Lawrence Provenzano, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island, made his official visit and presided at the rededication of the church, following more than a year of renovation and restoration, which included a roof replacement. Grace Church’s sanctuary reopened to record attendance on Easter Sunday.

Bishop Provenzano also confirmed several members and received others in the Episcopal church who had already been confirmed in other Christian traditions. He also prayed a blessing over Grace Church’s first Education for Ministry (EfM) graduating class. Education for Ministry is a four-year formation and theological education program for laypersons.

Meeting weekly, EfM participants study the Bible, church history and theology. Trained mentors facilitate the meetings, as everyone learns to engage together in theological reflection. EfM students are guided in discerning and nurturing their ministries, as the baptismal covenant points out that all Christians are gifted with various callings. The process provides all members with knowledge and confidence about themselves, teaching them to work with others as a group while deepening their faith. EfM is an outreach program of the School of Theology, University of the South, in Sewanee, Tenn.

Bishop Provenzano and the entire Grace congregation honored its senior member, Dorothy Pilch, who has graduated from Education for Ministry at the age of 95. Dorothy joins seven other parishioner EfM graduates.

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Cantor Bruce Ruben Joins Staff Of Brooklyn Heights Synagogue

Cantor Bruce Ruben will be joining the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue’s clergy team in July as part-time Cantor.

Cantor Ruben earned his bachelor of arts in music and a master’s degree in religious studies from Indiana University. Ruben’s own journey toward the cantorate began as a casual visitor to the Hillel at Indiana University, where the rabbi discovered that he was a voice major. Soon Ruben was helping to lead services and he found the experience to be beautiful.

When he was randomly assigned to voice teacher Marko Rothmüller, who had not only had a distinguished opera career in Europe, but had also led High Holy Day services at a Cleveland synagogue for many years and had written a book on the history of Jewish music, Ruben recalled, “I asked him to help me learn more cantorial music in order to lead High Holy Day services at Hillel — it was my first taste of being a cantor.”

He subsequently attended the Cantorial School of the Jewish Theological Seminary, graduated with a bachelor of sacred music degree and was ordained a cantor.

Cantor Ruben served as cantor of Temple Shaaray Tefila in New York City for 24 years (1982-2006), where he organized special music programs with professional and volunteer choirs; wrote liturgical music and commissioned and premiered new works by leading composers; taught adult education courses on the history of Jewish music, history and liturgy; and developed innovative services for increased congregational participation. While serving full-time at Shaaray Tefila, Ruben also completed a Ph.D. in Jewish history and taught for more than a decade in Hunter College’s history department.

In 2006, Cantor Ruben became director of the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music of Hebrew Union College, where he oversees the creation of a new core curriculum. As a teacher of cantors in training, he has stressed the need to teach human-relations skills for those interacting with congregants at the most important moments of their lives.

“The cantor’s presence is crucial at such times,” he said. “One has to demonstrate compassion, empathy and high ethical standards to fulfill these responsibilities.”

Cantor Ruben shares his love for music with his wife, Judith Clurman, an Emmy- and Grammy-nominated conductor, vocal educator and choral specialist. She is music director of Essential Voices USA (EVUSA), one of New York’s preeminent choral ensembles. She also conducted The New York Concert Singers for 15 years and was founding conductor of Prism Concerts and the 92nd Street Y’s Music of the Spirit. Their son Ari is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School.

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Plymouth Church’s Jacque Jones Named 2014 ‘Person of the Year’

American Guild of Organists-Brooklyn Chapter Annually Honors Non-Organists Who Support Its Mission


The American Guild of Organists-Brooklyn Chapter honored Plymouth Church member Jacque Jones last week at its annual banquet, held at Moldova Restaurant in Midwood.

Enhancing the festive mood was the multi-course dinner, including samples of Moldovan cuisine, from cucumber, tomato and feta salad, herring, chicken and carrot aspic to an array of fruit and fruit-filled pastries.

Jacque Jones is known to the entire community for her talent of hymn poetry. During March, she was a co-presenter at the “Three Perspectives on Hymnody” program, hosted at Plymouth Church. Her poetry has been published in several hymns. Locally, in Brooklyn, her hymn “As Starlight Warms to Daybreak” was sung at a 20th anniversary celebration honoring acclaimed Grace Church Organist-Choirmaster Paul Richard Olson in 2012. In fall 2013, the Grace Church Choir sang an anthem of Jacque’s poem “All Will Be Well.”

Chapter Dean Raymond Trapp and Sub-Dean Ellen Wright spoke of the beautiful way in which the American Guild of Organists’ mission blends with Jacque’s talent for writing sacred poetry. She is a member of The Hymn Society, of which she becomes president this summer.

The chapter honors non-organists who have promoted the value and beauty of organ music and the instruments. Past Brooklyn Chapter honorees have included organ preservationist Richard Parsons, New York Times editor and author Craig R. Whitney, the Rev. Angela Askew, Ed Odell and Brooklyn Eagle religion editor Francesca Norsen Tate, who was the chapter’s first honoree 10 years ago.

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Brooklyn Organists Chapter Presents Members Recital

“The Sound of Brooklyn” will be celebrated at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on Sunday, June 22, as the theme of the American Guild of Organists-Brooklyn Chapter’s Members Recital.

Chapter members will play the 3 Manual, 60 Stop, 46 Rank, 1914 Austin Pipe Organ and Opus 479-A (Revised). Works will be announced at the recital, which begins at 5 p.m.

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church is at 199 Carroll St., corner of Clinton Street, in Carroll Gardens. The church entrance faces Clinton Street.

Admission is free. Tax-deductible donations will be accepted after the recital to benefit the Brooklyn AGO Scholarship Fund.

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Works of Student Composers Featured At Choral Chameleon’s Annual Concert

Vince Peterson and the Choral Chameleon Institute are growing a musical tree in Carroll Gardens. Come see and hear it in full bloom at their annual concert on Friday, June 20, at 8 p.m. at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on Clinton Street.

Every year the Choral Chameleon Institute gathers student composers and conductors from around the country and conducts an intensive, eight-day program designed to immerse them in the world of choral music and inspire and nurture them in bringing their musical ideas to life.

The culmination of this program is their annual concert. It will premiere the cutting-edge works and arrangements of these students, as performed by the celebrated professional vocal ensemble Choral Chameleon.

Tickets are $18 and can be bought in advance at, or at the door. 
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Synagogues Welcome All to Sabbath ‘Under the Bridge’

Congregation Mount Sinai and the Kings Bay Y at North Williamsburg invite Brooklyn’s Jewish community to celebrate Shabbat at “Under the Bridge” in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

The synagogues and friends will gather one Friday night each month for musical services featuring Israeli, Brazilian and jazz music, as well as a bring-your-own-picnic dinner at the BridgeView Lawn at Pier 1. Music starts at 6:30 p.m.

The dates are Fridays, June 20, July 25 and Aug. 15. Musical services start at 7:30 p.m.
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Sacred Hearts-St. Stephen Parish Opens Historic Yard for Outreach Fundraiser

Sacred Hearts-St. Stephen (SH&SS) Roman Catholic Parish launches its first volunteer-run, community-wide flea market fundraiser under the name BQE Steeple Flea.

Adjacent to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, the church’s famous steeple can be seen as far away as New Jersey. The event is open to sellers from the surrounding communities, churches and professional vendors in the tri-state area. Food trucks will attend the event. Raffle prizes will take place from local merchants and a 50/50 raffle will be run by the local Knights of Columbus chapter on Saturday, June 21, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Flea Market, staffed by 25 volunteers, is run by John-Mark de Palma, integrated media and development associate for SH&SS Parish; and Karma Martell, marketing specialist, president-owner of KarmaCom. Organizers believe that church is more than a house of worship; it is a social conduit that brings people of all backgrounds together. The Charles Keely-designed, historic church will be open during the Flea Market for visitors.

Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary-St. Stephen Roman Catholic Parish, established in 1866, is between Summit and Carroll streets at 108 Carroll St. in Carroll Gardens. 

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