Faith In Brooklyn for Feb. 12
Mosaic Church Works for Healing, Building ‘Family’ Throughout NYC
Mission Is to Realize ‘Heavenly Vision’ of All Nations Worshiping Christ
“Church is not a weekend event. It’s a family on mission, 24/7.”
So speaks Pastor Stephen Stallard of Mosaic Baptist Church, who has led the planting of a faith community in Crown Heights with the goals of healing a community torn by racial strife, nurturing a family whose common bond is not DNA, but the love of Christ, and working toward the heavenly vision of all nations gathered. This vision is reflected in the church’s name, Mosaic.
Stallard, who is lead pastor of Mosaic Church, and his wife Sonya arrived in New York City —and Brooklyn, specifically — from the Poconos, where they were already ministering in what he called a diverse “bedroom community.”
“About 50 percent of our church was New Yorkers. And it was ethnically diverse,” Stallard said. “We moved here because our mission here is to start a church for all nations.”
“We were doing this in the Poconos,” he told the Brooklyn Eagle. “We were part of a church plant that launched us out to come here. We were really drawn to the tension and the history of racial issues here in Crown Heights: from Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier to the race riots in 1991 here. We just feel like the story of Crown Heights is a story that has racial strife at its center. We believe that Jesus can redeem that, and that the story is not done. It’s one of the reasons that we’re here, because of that incident.”
Pastor Stallard added, “It really began burdening our hearts to be part of a church that was reaching all nations. Dr. King — this is what we talked about at our Day of Diversity service a couple of weeks ago. Dr. King famously said — and it’s still true — that ‘11 a.m. on Sunday morning is still the most segregated hour in America.’ I began to grapple with this tension, between reading how the Bible describes what heaven is going to look like — It’s going to be every nation, every tribe, every language group, united together because they believe in Jesus Christ, because He is the hope of the nations. That’s not what our churches look like today.”
Mosaic Church holds worship Sundays at 4 p.m., hosted at Mt. Joy Baptist Church at 761 Park Place, the pastor of which is a friend of Stallard. But Sunday worship is only part of Mosaic’s ministry. The Missional Families are a central part of Mosaic’s outreach to the community.
“We started as a Bible Study at a Jamaican restaurant. We grew from there into meetings at homes, and formed Missional Families, a key part of how we’re planting this event,” explained Pastor Stallard.
Likewise, Mosaic’s pastoral intern, Kevin Liu, pointed out, “We don’t want to be a two-hour event, just on Sunday. Church is about life together, every day. That’s why we have these Missional Families. We gather together throughout the week. Missional Families meet at different venues to watch movies, discuss the sermons. It’s here that we get to respond together to the sermons, to the word that is spoken. We also have fun — watching the Super Bowl, for example,” Liu added.
“A lot of people aren’t able to come to the Sunday service,” says co-worship leader Daneja Amann. “Not everyone is going to walk through church doors. We want to be able to bring church to other people and show them what family looks like, and how we care about each other even though we’re so different, hanging out with each other, not just talking about Sunday services, but we’re also talking about what God is doing in everyone’s lives, and how we can help each other have a better relationship with Him. We try to bring church to them.”
Stallard said that, at present, there are three Missional Families: two in Brooklyn, including at their home, and one in Manhattan, where Liu lives.
“We bring the church to them: spending time in Crown Heights, spending time in certain cafes or restaurants, and being regular people that they see, and that we’re building relationships,” says Amann. “They know who you stand for, and that’s how the love of God comes out.”
“They may not be ready to come to church now, but they know how to reach us — one person at a time,” she explained.
Stallard pointed out, “The owner of that Jamaican restaurant is now a Christian. She wasn’t a Christian when we started; she is now.”
He believes this is a fruit of Mosaic’s members frequenting the restaurant, praying with friends and employees who underwent various adversities, and even being present at funerals.
“We went from customers in her restaurant to people who were part of her life and who care,” he said.
Mosaic Church has also done significant work with Save Our Streets/S.O.S. Crown Heights. Speaking about a stabbing last fall in the neighborhood, Pastor Stallard and the Mosaic community attended vigils and prayed.
“That just comes from being regular people who are invested in our community. I wake up at night and I hear the gunshots. I’m not commuting in from somewhere else. This is us, investing in our neighborhoods … It’s putting down deep roots, whatever neighborhood you’re in, to love people as Jesus loves them.”
Pastor Stallard, Teaching/Associate Pastor Woodley Victor, Liu and Amann, as part of the leadership team, all agree that putting one’s faith into practical action is a key part of their ministry. They envision expanding Missional Families throughout Brooklyn, with a goal of adding two more Missional Family groups this year.
“One of the coolest things about our church is that we have about eight to 10 different cultures here. There are people who are quitting their jobs and they are relocating to New York City to be part of this, because they believe if they can reach New York City, then they can reach the nation.”
Readers wishing to explore Mosaic Church further may visit www.mosaicbrooklyn.com .
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Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir Releases New ‘Pray’ Album
The six-time Grammy award-winning Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir was set to release its 29th album via Provident Distribution this week, on Feb. 10. The CD, simply titled “Pray,” features 14 new songs, 11 of which were co-written by Choir Director Carol Cymbala.
The Choir premiered the new recording on Sunday, Feb. 8 at the Brooklyn Tabernacle. Cymbala and Jason Michael Webb co-produced “Pray.”
Since its inception more than 40 years ago, when the Choir began with only nine members, Cymbala has never read notated music — though she has written numerous hit songs — and the Choir has never used charts. Yet, she possesses a God-given talent for interpreting sacred song through her conducting and composing — enough to win the choir those multiple Grammy awards. The 300-voice choir is a blend of ethnic and economic backgrounds, with members ranging from lawyers and doctors to former drug addicts.
“While the new ‘Pray’ CD has an eclectic mix of songs,” Cymbala said, “It is also reminiscent of the traditional Brooklyn Tabernacle sound. Beyond the songs, I really believe that it is very important that the members of our choir — or any choir — should have a heart for God and a heart for ministry.”
The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir has performed at major music venues, such as Radio City Music Hall, Carnegie Hall and Madison Square Garden. In addition to the Grammy awards, the Choir has won seven Dove awards (Gospel Music’s Grammy equivalent), two #1 Billboard charting CDs and more than four million albums sold. The choir sang “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” at President Obama’s second inauguration ceremony on the steps of the U.S. Capitol to a worldwide television audience of more than one billion people. The Choir has performed on various national TV shows, including “Good Morning, America” and “Fox and Friends,” among others. Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir was featured on the cover of The New York Times and highlighted in Time Magazine. The Choir’s previous CD, “Love Lead the Way,” debuted at #1 on the iTunes Christian/Gospel album chart last year. For more information, visit www.brooklyntabernacle.org.
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Rev. Herb Daughtry Honored as ‘Sage of the City’, Interfaith Leader
Elected officials and faith leaders joined forces last weekend to honor a pastor and civil rights leader who has served his church and the wider community for decades.
“Sons & Daughters of the City Celebrate a Sage: Honoring the Life & Legacy of Rev. Herbert Daughtry Sr.” took place at the House of the Lord Churches in Boerum Hill. Daughtry was pastor there for decades before his wife, the Rev. Karen Smith Daughtry, was installed as pastor last year.
Dignitaries attending included York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, former UFT President Randi Weingarten and the Rev. Herb Daughtry’s daughter, Leah Daughtry, who is also a widely respected pastor of the House of the Lord Church in Washington, D.C., part of her father’s far-reaching ministry.
Rev. Leah D. Daughtry and her sister Dawnique compose the fifth consecutive generation of pastors in the Daughtry family.
“Rev. Daughtry has been a stalwart of the community, as an interfaith leader serving as a bridge between groups, who fights for equity, not just equality,” noted Comptroller Stringer. “Any time there is a march to protect the civil rights of people, who’s in the front row with the microphone? Rev. Daughtry. He truly is the ‘Sage of the City.’”
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Lenten Exhibit at St. Ann’s Brings Work of Artist Nancy Azara
St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church will present “I Am the Vine, You Are the Branches,” an installation of sculpture and mixed media by artist Nancy Azara. The exhibition will be on view for the Christian season of Lent, starting on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 18, through Good Friday, April 3, in the church at Clinton and Montague streets in Brooklyn Heights. The visual art program at St. Ann’s is a part of The Forum @ St. Ann’s, which seeks to engage the community in conversation about the arts, ideas and civic life.
An artist’s talk with Azara is scheduled for Sunday, March 1, at 2 p.m., followed by a reception.
“I Am the Vine, You Are the Branches” is composed of sculptures, banners and collages using a variety of materials, including branches, vines, carved wood and mylar. Azara says she is motivated by the need to “touch a longing within us for a route to the divine.”
Her use of wood suggests not only a spiritual connection to the tree as divine symbol, but also the fragility of such a relationship in the face of destructive forces. The works in this exhibition can provide opportunities for contemplative engagement for those who wish.
The show features a major new work titled “I Am the Vine,” created especially for this exhibit, mounted on the columns within the historic Gothic Revival sanctuary. Composed of 14 components, it is a metaphorical and meditative presentation of the Stations of the Cross. In reimagining the via dolorosa traced by Jesus to his crucifixion, Azara highlights what is “both beautiful and ugly, golden and silvery, damaged and broken.”
Azara lives and works in New York City and Woodstock, N.Y. Her work is featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions throughout Europe, Asia and America, and was most recently at Gallery Sensei, Pseudo Empire and the Asya Geisberg Galleries in New York. In 2013, she exhibited at SACI Gallery, Florence, Italy, and earlier was an artist in residence at Civitella Ranieri, Umbertide, Italy. The exhibition will be on view at St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church Tuesday through Thursday, noon to 3 p.m.; Sundays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.; and by appointment by contacting the parish office at 718-875-6960, or [email protected] For further information, visit www.stannholytrinity.org
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‘NightShul’ Broadens Jewish Adult Education in Brooklyn
East Midwood Jewish Center (EMJC) will present NightShul, 12 weeks of learning opportunities presented by EMJC and its partner organizations.
East Midwood’s new NightShul program is more than a synagogue adult education program. EMJC is partnering with organizations representing diverse viewpoints and constituencies. NightShul begins on Thursday, Feb. 12, and concludes on May 21. These Thursday nights offer an opportunity for a broader community to join forces to “Learn More and Learn Different.”
This semester’s partners in NightShul are Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (jfrej.org) and immerseNYC (immersenyc.org). JFREJ is an organization committed to revitalizing a Jewish ethic of social justice and human dignity. ImmerseNYC is a pluralistic, Jewish, feminist organization in New York City that facilitates deep ritual experiences, supportive peer communities and educational programs.
Faculty for NightShul includes EMJC’s Rabbi Matt Carl and Cantor Sam Levine. Dr. Rabbi Barat Ellman, adjunct professor at both Fordham University and the Jewish Theological Seminary, will be guest scholar. Leading ImmersNYC’s program will be Rabbi Sara Luria and Dasia Fruchter.
Jews for Racial & Economic Justice, in addition to providing learning opportunities in the NightShul schedule, will also be presenting its annual Purim Spectacular at EMJC on March 5 and 7.
The first session, Feb. 12, 19 and 26 — “Purim Sex, Drugs & Rock & Roll,” taught by Rabbi Matt Carl — was mentioned in last week’s “Faith in Brooklyn” column. “Freilichen and Tikkun Olam” will be presented by JFREJ (Feb. 26 only).
The second session, March 12, 19 and 26, includes — “Passover, What Else Is There to Know?” by Rabbi Matt Carl; “Our Service Continues: Towards an Understanding of the Siddur,” by Cantor Sam Levine; and “Honoring Our Traditions: An Exploration of the Mikveh,” presented by Rabbi Sara Luria and Dasi Fruchter of immerseNYC.
The third session, April 12, 19 and 26, includes — “Prayer and Poetry Pack a Punch: The Three Festivals and High Holidays,” by Cantor Sam Levine; and “History or Hagiography: Rabbis’ Biographies” by Rabbi Matt Carl.
The fourth session, May 7, 14 and 21 will include — “The Music of Jewish Prayer,” taught by Cantor Sam Levine; and “The Prophetic Experience,” taught by Dr. Rabbi Barat Ellman.
Live music events after learning will be held on Feb. 26 (Rock & Roll for Purim) and March 26 (“The Matzo Ball”). Live music events carry an extra admission fee.
For price structure and full series subscriber rates, visit the East Midwood Jewish Center website, www.emjc.org.
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Rabbi Alvin Kass Teaches Course Titled ‘Eyewitness to Jewish History’
Rabbi Alvin Kass, senior rabbi emeritus of the East Midwood Jewish Center, will be teaching a course called “Eyewitness to Jewish History” at Temple Emanuel’s Skirball Center. The Center’s spring series of classes begins on Feb. 23 and the entire catalog is available online at emanuelskirballnyc.org, or by calling 212-507-9580.
In the “Forward” of Jan. 23, 2015, the article “Inside the Heads, Hearts and Yamulkes of Jewish Cops,” Rabbi Kass was quoted and his picture appears on page 12.
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