Brooklyn Boro

Faith In Brooklyn for April 30

April 30, 2015 By Francesca Norsen Tate, Religion Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Teens call out chants, like “Hitting Is Not Love,” and “No Excuse for Abuse,” as they march across the Brooklyn Bridge. Eagle photo by Francesca Norsen Tate

Walk-a-Thon Across Brooklyn Bridge Gave Youths Chance to Denounce Abuse, Violence

Pedestrians and cyclists on the Brooklyn Bridge last Saturday morning heard chants of “Hitting Is Not Love” and “No Excuse for Abuse!” The voices were coming from participants in the fourth annual NYC Teen Dating Violence Awareness Walk-a-thon.

The youths, representing several schools around Brooklyn, wanted the world to know that physical violence and abuse of any kind, particularly unwanted sexual contact, is unacceptable.

Hundreds of teens and parents from across the five boroughs made known their determination to end domestic violence with their walk-a-thon, New York City’s only walk for this cause. Participants gathered at the Korean War Memorial at Cadman Plaza for a rally before heading to Adams Street and marching over the bridge. Keeping up the energy and the chants, the marchers received several thumbs-up signs and honks from passing vehicles.

During both the rally and press conference, teen dating violence survivors shared their stories of trauma and recovery. Special performances and demonstrations took place, including dance performances by Stephanie Rodriguez and Alora Martinez, Open Moments NYC, drumming group Sons of Thunder, a self-defense demonstration by the Center for Anti-Violence Education  teen group and personal testimony from Lanai Daniels.

“Domestic violence is one of America’s deepest and darkest secrets. It was never discussed, was often ignored, and thousands upon thousands suffered in silence. But, those voices are being heard,” said Antonia Clemente, executive director of the Healing Center, a Brooklyn domestic violence organization that organized the walk. “Our challenge as a city is the challenge of the Healing Center — end the cycle of violence and care for its survivors. We’re walking to call attention to teen dating relationships, which is one of the places domestic violence gains a foothold in the cycle. And we’re walking to City Hall to stress the need for continued funding of local, grassroots, direct services — services that not only publicize and educate, but counsel and heal.”

Upon their arrival at City Hall in Manhattan, marchers heard from Pastor Paul Knudsen of Bethlehem Lutheran Church, who lamented the fact that domestic violence is the silent taboo — and never mentioned in church. Instead, he pointed out, victims must be given a safe environment at their churches and from their pastors so that they can seek help.

City Councilmembers Laurie Cumbo and Carlos Menchaca, both of whom represent Brooklyn districts, reminded the participants, “City Hall represents your voice. By coming here, you are making history.”

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They urged the youths to vote once they reach age 18 and to spread the word about their march on social media.

Meredith O’Connor, a teen singer/songwriter, actress and inspirational speaker, has gained respect because of her music, including her song “The Game,” and her well-known anti-bullying platform.

She spoke to the marchers at City Hall. She devotes much of her time to addressing students about her childhood of not fitting in, and how she was able to overcome bullying.

The Healing Center was the main sponsor. Walk-a-thon co-sponsors included Bethlehem Lutheran Church of Bay Ridge, Caribbean Women’s Health Association, Center for Anti-Violence Education, Community Healthcare Network, CONNECT, HealthFirst and the YWCA of Brooklyn.

The Healing Center is dedicated to the intervention and prevention of family violence and abuse, serving people of diverse faiths, cultures and personal experiences. The nonprofit organization was founded in 2000 in response to the growing need to serve those who suffer in silence due to family violence. The Brooklyn-based organization started New York City’s first Teen Dating Violence Awareness Walk-a-thon in 2011. To protect the privacy and security of clients, the Healing Center does not disclose its location.

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Fr. Peter Purpura Installed as New Rector at Cathedral

The Most Rev. Nicholas DiMarzio, bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, was set to install Fr. Peter Purpura as rector of St. James Cathedral-Basilica on Sunday, April 26.

A native of Breezy Point, Fr. Purpura is the fifth of seven children. He is a graduate of St. John’s University with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy, while in priestly formation at Cathedral Seminary in Douglaston, Queens. He attended the Pontifical North American College in Rome for major seminary and was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Brooklyn on June 30, 2007.

He later pursued post-ordination studies in canon law and is presently completing his doctorate from the University of the Holy Cross in Rome. He was appointed the rector of the Cathedral Basilica of Saint James in January 2015. 

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Local Episcopal Priest Named to Racial Justice Advisory Council

The Brooklyn Community Foundation (BCF) has appointed the Rev. Michael Sniffen of St. Luke & St. Matthew Church to its Local/National Racial Justice Advisory Council.

The BCF is the first and only public foundation solely dedicated to Brooklyn’s charitable community. The foundation is on a mission to spark lasting social change, mobilizing people, capital and expertise for a fair and just Brooklyn.

The foundation’s grantmaking and community leadership programs are informed by a long track record of philanthropic excellence. Since its founding in 2009, more than $20 million in grants have been disbursed to more than 300 nonprofits throughout the borough, bolstering vital programs and services, while responding to urgent community needs and opportunities to fuel community-led change.

The BCF is positioning racial justice at the core of its work. Working closely with a committee of national and local experts, the foundation is  developing an institution-wide racial justice lens, a tool that will ensure that attention is paid to race in the analysis of problems, the formation of solutions and the definition of success in grant-making, governance and advocacy initiatives.

The Rev. Michael Sniffen is rector of St. Luke & St. Matthew Church in Clinton Hill. He was ordained in 2007 and came to the Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew after serving as assistant rector of St. John’s, Lattingtown. He previously served three parishes in the Diocese of Newark as seminarian, director of youth and family ministry and assistant to the rector.

Heavily influenced by process and liberation theology, Fr. Sniffen understands the gospel of Jesus Christ to be a prophetic word of freedom, reconciliation and radical welcome in a world fraught with division and oppression.

Asked what the primary work of the church is in this time, Fr. Sniffen said, “To preach good news to the poor, proclaim release to the captives and set at liberty all those who are oppressed. This is the essence of Christ’s redeeming work as it is summed up in Luke 4:18-19. The proclamation of this message and the actions that flow from it are the work of the body of Christ in this broken world.”

Among Fr. Sniffen’s spiritual disciplines are sailing, theater, music, running, the daily office and the exercise of a good sense of humor.

He holds degrees from West Virginia Wesleyan College and Drew University. He is a candidate for Ph.D. in liturgical studies and homiletics writing on the topic of preaching and social change in urban contexts. A member of the American Academy of Religion, a visiting member of the Academy of Homiletics and the North American Academy of Liturgy, Fr. Sniffen has won awards in pulpit oratory and manner, as well as pastoral leadership and innovative ministry. For the 2011-12 academic year, he was a Luce Fellow of the Center for Christianity in Global Contexts.

He currently serves as vice chair of the Episcopal Response to AIDS, as well as vice president of the Board of Camp DeWolfe and adjunct professor of worship, preaching and the arts at Drew University.

Fr. Sniffen and his wife Joanna live in Clinton Hill with their two whippets, Millie and Odette (who love off-leash time in Prospect and Fort Greene parks).

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Assemblyman Cymbrowitz Honors Winners of Holocaust Memorial Creative Arts Contest

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz (D-Brooklyn) honored the student winners of his Holocaust Memorial Creative Arts Contest on Sunday, April 26, during a poignant ceremony at Kingsborough Community College’s Marine Academic Center.

The featured speakers were Ruth Lichtenstein, the daughter of Holocaust survivors and founder of Project Witness, a Brooklyn-based Holocaust resource center; and Dr. Richard Tomback, a history professor and director of the Holocaust studies program at Kingsborough.

The ceremony included musical performances by the Edward R. Murrow High School Junior Chorus, Chamber Orchestra and Chamber Winds. The contest attracted about 500 entries, ranging from essays to artworks to interactive displays to original musical compositions. Students in grades 3 through 12, in public and private schools throughout Assemblyman Cymbrowitz’s district, conceived and designed their projects. All of the students’ contributions were on display.

In his opening remarks, Assemblyman Cymbrowitz, the son of Holocaust survivors, spoke about the rise in anti-Semitism and the importance of Holocaust education. He said he hopes the lessons the children learned will “stay with them throughout their entire lives, tucked away in their memory and passed on to their own children and their children’s children.”

He added, “As the Holocaust taught us, if you fail to act, and fail to speak out, the consequences can be irreparable. There are wounds that time won’t heal.”

Also on display was an exhibit called “Unwelcomed Words: Nazi Anti-Jewish Street Signs,” provided by the Harriet and Kenneth Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center and Archives at Queensborough Community College.

Assemblyman Cymbrowitz sponsors the annual contest with the Holocaust Memorial Committee, Manhattan Beach Jewish Center and Lena Cymbrowitz Foundation.

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Outstanding Restoration Projects in Brooklyn Set to Receive Landmarks Conservancy Award

Lucy G. Moses Awards Called the ‘Preservation Oscars’

Two active houses of worship were set to receive the prestigious Lucy G. Moses Awards on Thursday, April 30. Grace Church-Brooklyn Heights and the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph in Prospect Heights recently completed multi-million-dollar restoration projects.

Both sanctuaries are among the recipients that will be recognized at the April 30 ceremony at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph in Brooklyn.

The Lucy G. Moses Preservation Awards, called the “Preservation Oscars,” are the conservancy’s highest honors for excellence in preservation. The coveted awards are named for Lucy G. Moses, a dedicated New Yorker whose generosity benefited the city for many decades.  For more than 25 years, the awards have recognized more than 250 individuals, organizations and building owners for their extraordinary contributions to the city.

“The Moses Awards celebrate terrific preservation projects. Several of this year’s award winners demonstrate how historic buildings can be adapted to meet contemporary needs and add economic vitality in neighborhoods across the city,” said Peg Breen, president of the New York Landmarks Conservancy.

Both the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph and Grace Church will be participating in this year’s Landmarks Conservancy Sacred Sites tours during the weekend of May 16-17, in addition to Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral, First Unitarian Church and Brown Memorial Baptist Church.

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Concerts in Brooklyn This Weekend

Grace Church’s Mary Bowen Presents Lieberabend

Mezzo soprano Mary Bowen, a soloist with the Grace Church-Brooklyn Heights Parish Choir, presents Liederabend on Saturday, May 2.

Sometimes translated as “evening of songs,” this particular Liederabend will feature Schumann’s “Frauenliebe und leben” and songs of Schubert, Brahms and Strauss. Margret Hjaltested and Lloyd Arriola join Bowen for the 5 p.m. concert. Wine and hors d’oeuvres follow. Admission is $25. Grace Church is at 254 Hicks St. 

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Brooklyn Interdenominational Choir Joins With Other Artists for ‘Believe’ Concert

The Brooklyn Interdenominational Choir joins Audrey DuBois-Harris and several ensembles for a Gospel and jazz concert at Union United Methodist Church in Crown Heights.

Titled “Believe,” the May 2 concert will also feature DuBois-Harris, the group Manifest, the Voices of Cornerstone and Rev. Nathaniel Dixon.

The concert begins at 5 p.m., with doors opening at 4 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults and $5 for kids. Tickets are also available by calling 718-467-0458.

Union United Methodist Church is at 121 New York Ave. near St. Mark’s Avenue.

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