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Faith In Brooklyn for Jan. 20

January 20, 2015 By Francesca Norsen Tate, Religion Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Fr. Solanus Benfatti, CFR, a Franciscan Friar of the Renewal, presents the closing lecture on the manuscripts of St. Francis of Assisi. Photo by Francesca Norsen Tate
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Borough President Unites Friars, Holocaust Survivors at Closing of Special Exhibit

During closing ceremonies for the historic exhibition of Franciscan manuscripts on Wednesday, Jan. 14, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams united Franciscan friars and Holocaust survivors in a poignant ceremony.

The exhibit, which opened Dec. 17, titled “Friar Francis: Traces, Words and Images,” was the biggest exhibition ever to be held at Borough Hall. This marked the first time these 19 artifacts have left Italy in 700 years. Before their arrival at Brooklyn Borough Hall, the manuscripts had been on private display at the United Nations since mid-November, according to a Brooklyn Eagle article by Mary Frost, published at the opening of the exhibit.

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Saint Francis of Assisi is called one of the most significant figures in the history of organized religion. Pope Francis, who is scheduled to visit New York City during 2015, took his papal name in honor of his commitment to the poor. However, these artifacts did not focus on Francis the saint (who would have been canonized posthumously), but on his life as a leader of a religious order and community dedicated to serving the poor and needy.

The town of St. Francis’ birth, Assisi, in the Umbrian region of central Italy, played a major role in saving the lives of Jews during World War II. Shortly after Nazi occupation, religious and civil leaders provided sanctuary for about 300 Jews, who were at risk of being sent to their deaths. Placing significant risk on themselves, local Catholics and a German Catholic commander preserved peace in the birthplace of St. Francis, setting up a secret organization that hid refugees in monasteries and convents, creating fake identities for them. Not one Jewish person in Assisi was deported to a concentration camp.

Borough President Adams invited Holocaust survivors, Franciscan friars and other religious leaders to speak to the value of this legacy and the lessons it continues to teach about compassion and humanity. They thanked the Borough President, who declared he will open Borough Hall to them so they can give educational programs on the Holocaust.

A delegation from the New York Association of Holocaust Survivors, whose president is Pavel Vishnevetskiy, presented Borough President Adams with a commemorative book.

Joining them were the Community of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal (CFR). After the honors ceremony, Fr. Solanus Benfatti, CFR gave the closing talk of the exhibit. He related a famous story about St. Francis’ urgent desire to meet a sultan, even though he was warned against doing so because it would place his life in danger. Francis went ahead and, said Fr. Solanus, “a miracle occurred” and the two leaders found accord with one another.

Following that presentation, attendees had the chance to view the exhibit once more and to hear some talks. Catering the event was Joe Chirico, owner of Marco Polo Ristorante in Carroll Gardens. Among the religious leaders in attendance was Msgr. Jamie Gigantiello, the Roman Catholic Diocese’s vicar for development.

-Additional information provided by Mary Frost
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Panel Discussion Will Examine Conflict in Ferguson, Mo.

First Unitarian Church of Brooklyn’s Weaving the Fabric of Diversity Committee will present a public forum and panel discussion on the racial tension and conflicts with the police force in Ferguson, Mo. Weaving the Fabric of Diversity is First Unitarian Church’s social justice group.

The forum, to be held on Saturday, Jan. 24, from 2 to 4:30 p.m., is titled “Ferguson: Causes, Events and What Happens Now.”

Events spurred by the killing of Michael Brown have galvanized the nation and led to massive protests against racism and police brutality. Participants will “examine what happened, why it happened, why masses of people are acting now and what can we expect in the future,” according to a distributed announcement.

Speakers include (as of press time) the Rev. Clinton Miller, pastor of Brown Memorial Baptist Church; Candis Tolliver, assistant advocacy director for organizing, NYCLU; Anita Neal, whose daughter, Kyam Livingston, died in police custody as her cries for medical help were ignored; two activists who were arrested in Ferguson while protesting the killing of Brown and the subsequent militaristic reaction to community protests.

A question-and-answer period will follow the speakers’ presentations. Admission is free of charge. The forum takes place in the Sanctuary of First Unitarian Church Brooklyn, on the corner of Pierrepont Street and Monroe Place in Brooklyn Heights.

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Interfaith Series Will Explore Sermon on the Mount

Congregation Mount Sinai and Plymouth Church are co-sponsoring a series exploring Jewish and Christian readings of the New Testament.

The Sermon on the Mount is considered to be a touchstone of Christian spirituality. But while this well-known text from the Gospel of Matthew teaches fundamental ideas in Christianity, it is also deeply connected to the Biblical and Jewish traditions. In this three-part class, facilitated by Rabbi Seth Wax and Rev. Dr. Jane Huber, interim assistant minister at Plymouth Church, participants will engage in close reading of selections of the Sermon, along with parallels in Jewish teachings. This class will offer a remarkable opportunity for deep text study, while also providing a rich interfaith dialogue.

The class will convene on three Wednesday nights: Jan. 28 (at Congregation Mount Sinai, 250 Cadman Plaza West), Feb. 11 (at Plymouth Church, 75 Hicks St.) and Feb. 25 (at Congregation Mount Sinai). No RSVP is required for the free event, but both congregations would appreciate knowing how many plan to attend. Contact Congregation Mt. Sinai at (718) 875-9124, or Plymouth Church at (718) 624-4743.

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Evensong Series Will Benefit Christian Help in Park Slope

Sung Evensong is a classic Anglican tradition of sung evening prayer. It is indeed a special occasion when the guest musician is a Grammy award winner.

Evensong at All Saints’, a three-part series, beginning on Jan. 25 at 5 p.m., provides an opportunity for the entire community to come together to pray and break bread, while supporting the needs of the hungry and vulnerable. While retaining the richness of this centuries-old form of worship, Evensong at All Saints’ reflects the dynamism of 21st Century Brooklyn in all its musical diversity, while raising awareness of hunger issues in Brooklyn and beyond.

For this inaugural service, All Saints’ Episcopal Church is thrilled to welcome one of its own, parishioner and renowned pianist, composer and bandleader Arturo O’Farrill, as featured artist. O’Farrill will be setting the standard selection of psalms, hymns and canticles in the Afro Latin jazz style for which he is renowned.

Following the service, all are invited to the church’s undercroft for a community meal. There will be opportunities during the service and at the meal to support the work of CHiPS.

Evensong at All Saints’ starts at 5 p.m. The meal will be served immediately following the service at 6 p.m. Both are free and open to the public, with a suggested donation to benefit CHiPS. Future dates are March 15 and May 10.

All Saints’ Episcopal Church is at the intersection of Seventh Avenue and Seventh Street in Park Slope, opposite New York Methodist Hospital. All Saints’ Church is a historic and diverse Episcopal parish that has served the people of Park Slope since 1867. All Saints’ holds fast to the Episcopal/Anglican values of embracing the diversity of God’s creation and offering welcome to all people. The Rev. Steven D. Paulikas has led All Saints’ since 2011 as priest-in-charge and now as rector. For more information, contact the church office at (718) 768-1156, or email [email protected].

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Faith Newsmakers

Grace Church Inducts Parishioners Into Francis Vinton Society

For First Time in Parish History, Both Wardens are Women

The Rector of Grace Church-Brooklyn Heights inducted two parishioners into the Francis Vinton Society, a tradition begun in 2010 to honor longstanding service to the parish.

The Rev. Stephen D. Muncie, rector of Grace Church, told the Brooklyn Eagle when the award was established, “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.

This year’s honorees are Jill Gilbert, who has led all kinds of ministries over the years, and Tom Pace, who, as chair of the Buildings and Grounds Committee, oversaw one of the most comprehensive capital improvement projects, including the restoration of the church roof, electrical upgrades and the smooth transition of available building space so worship services and other ministries could continue during that period.

Moreover, the 2015 Annual Meeting marked the first time in the parish history (founded in 1847) that women have been elected to both the senior warden and junior warden leadership roles: Vivian Toan is senior warden and Kate Rock is junior warden. The parish also honored Tom Chittenden (a 2014 Vinton Society honoree) and Bob Whiteford for their many years of service as they step down from leadership posts.



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