Brooklyn Boro

Faith In Brooklyn for Aug. 27

August 27, 2015 By Francesca Norsen Tate, Religion Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
City Councilmember Mathieu Eugene joins volunteer Jordan Linsker and Pastor Gilford Monrose at the Mount Zion Church-East 37th St. Block Party. Eagle photo by Francesca N. Tate
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Mt. Zion Church’s Block Party Gives Playtime and Outreach to Community

It’s all about the children.

Mount Zion Church of God (7th Day)’s block party last week along East 37th Street had a special mission — to prepare children for a new school year.

Along with free hotdogs, hamburgers and other party treats, the neighborhood’s youngsters were given free book bags with supplies. HealthPlus and HealthFirst sponsored the book bag drive. They also gave away free spiral notebooks.

Mount Zion’s Pastor Gilford Monrose told the Brooklyn Eagle that this year marks the seventh annual East 37th St. Block Party. Its mission is to give the children and families hope, he emphasized. He sees bringing hope to people who are struggling as a central part of ministry.

“This church [at 203 East 37th St.] has been here on the block since 1930, and we have never closed the doors since it started as a synagogue. We [Mt. Zion] have been here since 1970. It is a National Historic Site,” said Pastor Monrose, now in his tenth year as the church’s spiritual leader.

It takes months to organize these block parties, he explained. This Kids and Family Day offers a chance to obtain health care resources and get one’s blood pressure checked. But it’s “also a time to take our children out to have fun. In a big city, it’s great to be able to ride your bike in the street [at the block party], not just on the sidewalk.” Pastor Monrose did acknowledge that in order for this to happen, there must be more effective ways for drivers to respect the “No Parking” signs for special occasions.

Mt. Zion Church’s central ministry is to give hope.  “[The mission] is just to be able to turn people’s lives around, so that they have a sense of hope, even though their current situation might not look as hopeful,” said Pastor Monrose. “We give them that everlasting hope that things are going to turn it around. We work to turn it around with social services. They first must believe it, they must receive it, and then they must act upon it. So we are here to push them forward and encourage them, and then give them the right services so that they can be successful.”

Providing resources for social services is a crucial first step.

“People are really struggling trying to make a living. A lot of people don’t have time to go on the Internet, so they don’t really know of services available,” he said. “One of the things we do is help them get the information that will assist them as much as possible.”

Mt. Zion offers programs on health. This week, they sponsored a program on cancer prevention and treatment. On Friday, Aug. 28, a legal services truck will be present as an ombudsman for anyone needing assistance. Pastor Monrose, who is also director of Faith-Based and Clergy Initiatives for Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, added that his work at Borough Hall provides him with additional resources to help the community.

During Sunday’s block party, American Red Cross volunteers were present to register families to receive free smoke detectors. HealthPlus provided information on obtaining medical plans and information was also available on preventing teen pregnancy.

Officers from the MTA’s K-9 unit brought one of the German Shepherds to introduce children to their role in safeguarding New York’s transit system — including MetroNorth, Long Island Railroad and Amtrak.

Kids and their families danced in the street. The closing ceremonies included a Step Dance troupe from LaGuardia High School for the Arts, and one of Mount Zion’s song teams. The block party concluded as Pastor Monrose prayed a blessing over the children and the upcoming school year.

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High Schooler from Rye Brook Spearheads Mt. Zion’s Clothing Drive

The history of Mount Zion Church of God’s sanctuary includes its origins as a synagogue established in 1930, and the legacy of the Jewish tradition of social justice and charity continue today.

One young man from Rye Brook, N.Y., Jordan Linsker, became involved with Mt. Zion when he organized a clothing drive two years ago.

Jordan, a rising high school senior, identifies as Jewish, told the Brooklyn Eagle on Sunday. He explained that he chanced upon some found, unclaimed clothing at the end of the school year a few years ago. Through some connections he had, he contacted Pastor Gilford Monrose, pastor of Mount Zion Church of God, and discussed his idea of a clothing drive and giveaway. The church may keep some of the extra clothes for winter, when cold weather is actually on people’s minds.

This past Sunday, the clothing tent was bustling, and several bags’ worth were given away.

Jordan enjoys school, particularly his math and science courses. When not in class, he enjoys volunteer work. This is his second year doing the clothes drive for Mt. Zion. Before graduation, he hopes to find another volunteer from his school in Rye Brook or from the community to take up the torch.

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Sept. 11 Promenade Service Moved to Thursday, 9/10 This Year

The Brooklyn Heights Clergy Association will continue its tradition of hosting a communitywide interfaith service to mark the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the U.S. The event takes place this year on Thursday, Sept.10, at 7:30 p.m. on the Brooklyn Promenade near the Montague Street entrance, so that people of all faiths can attend. Sept.11 falls on a Friday this year. The dusk-time service would take place after the start of Shabbat.

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