Brooklyn Boro

Faith In Brooklyn for Sept. 10

September 10, 2014 By Francesca Norsen Tate, Religion Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
An architectural rendering of Redwood Senior Living, scheduled to open in January 2015. Photo credit: Ken Cott
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Redwood Senior Housing Hailed As First Step in Meeting Mayor’s Goal

Pastor Brawley Says Need for Senior Housing Will Approach ‘Crisis’ Point’ By Year 2030

Leaders of the interfaith organization East Brooklyn Congregations (EBC) are hailing the construction of Redwood Senior Housing as a vital first step in stabilizing their neighborhoods.

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Redwood Senior Housing (890 Schenk Ave. at Wortman Avenue), commissioned by East Brooklyn Congregations, is an 80-unit HUD 202 development being built on New York City Housing Authority property.

East Brooklyn Congregations, founded in 1980, is an interfaith nonprofit organization composed of religious groups, churches, schools and social service agencies. Its member congregations, which range from Baptist to Roman Catholic, Lutheran and nondenominational, include an Episcopal parish in western Brooklyn — Grace Church-Brooklyn Heights. Other member congregations are located in East New York, Brownsville and Bushwick. EBC is also an affiliate of Metro IAF-Industrial Areas Foundation.

Saint Paul Community Baptist Church, a founding member of EBC, has a long history of leadership in transforming neighborhoods in central and eastern Brooklyn. Its members have fought hard for playgrounds, safe streets and the elimination of gun violence, as well as for the removal of mold and other hazardous conditions at NYCHA housing and, of course, for senior housing, at a time when the senior population is growing and the elderly are being priced out of apartments that they’ve called home for decades.

“Our intention is that Redwood — what they call Stanley Commons — would be the first of many. And so, the idea is to be able to keep our seniors in the community,” said the Rev. David K. Brawley, Metro IAF chairperson and senior pastor at St. Paul Community Baptist Church.

Pastor Brawley told the Brooklyn Eagle, “What we’ve learned is that our seniors have provided some of the best intelligence about what’s going on in the community. And, in our congregation, we noticed how many of the baby boomers are leaving — going down south and leaving the city. And we know that if that trend continues, it will de-stabilize the community.”

That stability and community contributed to the selection of the name “Redwood,” Pastor Brawley explained.

“One of the reasons why we call it ‘Redwood’ is because the redwood tree — the Sequoia sempervirens tree — of Northern California is the largest tree. But it also has a very shallow rootage system,” he said. “And what we discovered is that redwoods connect to other redwoods. That’s why they don’t fall. And so, for us, we’re looking to strengthen our roots so that we can spread our wings in East New York.”

The website of the California Department of Parks and Recreation also points out that Redwoods are naturally resistant to destructive pests, like termites, and are able to survive even when they have fallen — all the more reason to name a new apartment complex for this especially resilient tree.

However, Pastor Brawley pointed out that one new apartment complex dedicated for the elderly just begins to address the need for senior housing. At the same time, EBC is demonstrating the energy needed to create more.

Pastor Brawley continued, “The very first Redwood development for us is the way to get attention. It suggests that it’s possible. We need several things: we need the will, we need the land and we need the money to do it. And in this case, we had the will, NYCHA provided the land and we got 202 Monies to do this. We do know that we will need other sources of money to do this on a larger scale. But, in a time when our mayor has set an ambitious goal of adding or preserving 200,000 units of housing, this, to us, seems to be a very viable way to move closer to that goal.”

However, Pastor Brawley and the EBC leadership have yet to see one of Mayor de Blasio’s promises fulfilled — to meet with him personally.

During a Metro IAF assembly with Mayor Bill de Blasio that took place at the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge on March 30, Pastor Brawley had publicly asked Mayor de Blasio for just 15 minutes with him and some of his commissioners. At that time, the mayor, incorporating his response into his prepared address, had said, “The relationship between my administration and IAF is not going to go through that first stage of that other mayor [Ed Koch] you mentioned. We understand not only what you stand for, but that you believe in organizing people to make a difference, and that’s the tradition I come out of too. So, we will certainly have a meeting at City Hall and I look forward to that meeting.”

Pastor Brawley acknowledged, “We’ve met with many of the commissioners. Some were very productive meetings and others were not. We look forward to meeting with Mayor de Blasio.”

Likewise, Grant Lindsay, an EBC leader working on the senior housing campaign, said that community enthusiasm was high at the first informational meeting, which was held on Aug. 25. However, Lindsay described some of Mayor de Blasio’s comments as “progressive rhetoric.” As of that first meeting, no further monies were promised towards additional senior housing construction, Lindsay said.

The purpose of the Aug. 25 meeting was to announce the opening of the application process for Redwood Senior Living, as well as to provide an overview of the building, rental guidelines, income eligibility requirements, services provided and the lottery process. Applications were being made available at this and two other sessions, on Sept. 4 and 8, as this edition was going to press.

The deadline for applications is Nov. 15 and a lottery to select residents will be held shortly afterward.

Pastor Brawley said also that Redwood Senior Housing will have, through EBC’S partner Common Ground, many of the services that senior citizens might need. Facilities will include a computer lounge, library and related areas, a community space, manicured gardens and 24-hour security. Moreover, EBC leaders have done walkthroughs with the construction team, which has given assurances that the building is safe from a structural and engineering standpoint.

“We’re excited because it’s going to be a great standard of living, I think, for our seniors. But it also makes room for others to move into public housing that need to,” Pastor Brawley said. “The thing is, by the year 2030, there’s going to be a lot more seniors out there. Let me say that, right now, there’s really a problem! But, by 2030, it will be a crisis. There’s not much time to really start resolving this issue before it becomes something we can’t handle as a city.”

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Panel of Judges Will Explain Current Legal Issues, Courtroom Procedures

Topics on real estate, law and finance that citizens need to understand for various situations will be covered in a judicial panel series to be hosted by Antioch Baptist Church this fall.

“Judicial Panel Series: Words from the Bench” will cover elder law, including guardianships, wills and estates, matrimonial and child support, custody and visitation rights, housing, real estate, bankruptcy, foreclosure and consumer debt and immigration and criminal law.

The six-part series will be held on Saturdays, Sept. 13 and 27; Oct. 4 and 25; and Nov. 1 and 8. Each session will run from 10 a.m. to noon. Panelists will be judges, attorneys and other legal practitioners.

Learn about the law, courtroom protocol, what documents are needed to proceed with one’s case and resources for legal assistance. As of press time, the list of participating judges and attorneys was still to be finalized, but includes Steven Grant, Esq.; Yvonne Agbontaen, Esq.; Tania Redman, Esq.; and Lola Oguntunde-Waterman, Esq.

The series, which is free and open to all, takes place in the Fellowship Hall of Antioch Baptist Church, 828 Greene Ave., between Lewis and Stuyvesant avenues in Bedford-Stuyvesant.  Please contact [email protected], or call (718) 878-7529 for additional information. The pastor of Antioch Baptist Church is the Rev. Dr. Robert M. Waterman.

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Sacred Hearts-St. Stephen’s Church Prepares for Beloved Italian Tradition

Procession Honors the Sorrows of Mary, the Mother of Jesus

Brooklyn’s first Italian Roman Catholic parish will host a beloved tradition as the Congrega Maria S.S. Addolorata and the people of Mola Di Bari honor the feast of their hometown patron saint with a traditional Italian street procession and mass. Sunday, Sept. 14 will mark the 66th annual procession, which will conclude with a fireworks display at 7 p.m. and mass at 7:30 p.m., celebrated by the Most Reverend Nicholas DiMarzio, bishop of Brooklyn.

In a community that has seen a change in identity from its historic days as an Italian stronghold, events such as these recall the humble history of now glamorous brownstones.

“The image of the Blessed Mother under the title of Our Lady of Sorrows is an example to us all of the pain and suffering felt when we lose someone we love in a sudden and violent way. She shows us that it is appropriate to mourn, while, at the same time, never losing our faith — an important lesson to remember leading into the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks,” remarked John Heyer, Pastoral Associate at Sacred Hearts.

The statue of Our Lady or Sorrows will be carried from the church, starting at 3 p.m., and will be brought through the streets upon the shoulders of the faithful. The procession will travel throughout the neighborhood, with participants stopping for food and drink. The procession will return to Sacred Hearts and St. Stephen Church for an Italian-language mass. For more information, please log onto

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‘Tuesdays with Talmud’ at Congregation Mount Sinai

Congregation Mount Sinai starts a new season of “Tuesdays with Talmud,” which is held at the Brooklyn Bar Association on Remsen Street.

For generations, Talmud study has been considered the ultimate form of Jewish learning. But with its unique language and foreign argumentative style, many have difficulty unpacking this rich and thought-provoking text. Rabbi Seth Wax offers a lunchtime class, in which participants explore arguments on personal damages (the eighth chapter of Bava Kamma). The classes meet twice a month — on Tuesdays, Sept. 9 and 23; Oct. 7 and 28; Nov. 18 and 25; and Dec. 9 and 24. All sessions meet from 1:15 to 2 p.m.

Co-sponsors are the Brooklyn Brandeis Society and the Brooklyn Bar Association, at 123 Remsen St. in Brooklyn Heights.

All are welcome. Drinks are provided, courtesy of the Brooklyn Bar Association, but attendees need to bring their own lunch.

Congregation Mount Sinai also offers a Saturday morning class titled “Hasidic Spirituality: Speaking Torah.”

The synagogue provides background on the focus on this class: “For generations, Jewish masters have taught that the Torah teaches a path to spiritual liberation, to transforming both oneself and the world in our everyday lives. Beginning in the late 1700s, the early Hasidic masters, students of the Baal Shem Tov and the Maggid of Mezritch, offered profound interpretations and readings of the weekly Torah portions, shedding light on their students’ inner spiritual journeys. In this weekly class, held before Shabbat services, participants read translated selections of these teachings alongside passages from the Bible and early rabbinic literature, discovering the creativity and vibrancy of the Jewish spiritual tradition.”

The class meets on Saturdays from 9 to 10 a.m. Congregation Mount Sinai is at 250 Cadman Plaza West.

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St. Philip’s Church in Dyker Heights Opens Sunday School Registration

St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Dyker Heights starts registration for its Sunday School program on Sunday, Sept. 14, following the parish’s 10:30 a.m. mass.

Registration is for children, ages 5 to 7. Those wishing for more information may contact the parish office via phone at 718-745-2505, or email at [email protected]. An application is available for download from the website at

St. Philip’s-Dyker Heights is at 1072 80th St., not to be confused with another Episcopal parish by the same name on MacDonough Street in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Both are part of the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island, but in different geographical deaneries.

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Milestones in Faith

Danish Lutheran Church of America Has a 142-Year-Old Presence Here

September 8-9 marks the 142nd anniversary of the founding of the Danish Lutheran Church of America, the order under which Danish Seamen Church operates. The church has a presence in Brooklyn Heights, in a brownstone at 102 Willow St., which has been its home since 1957.

The Danish Seamen’s Church in New York is a private church under the Danish Church Abroad/Danish Seamen’s Church and it is under ecclesiastical supervision of Bishop of Copenhagen Peter Skov-Jakobsen. Church services are held in the Danish language every Sunday at 11 a.m., except for the last Sunday of the month. But the church is also a social and cultural center for Danes and those with close attachments to Denmark and Danish culture. Among the activities offered are a playgroup, mothers’ group, Danish language lessons and a social network for young Danes in New York.




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