Cobble Hill

Christ Church will host Evensong in Parish Hall

Liturgy Commemorating St. Mary the Virgin Is Annual Tradition Here

August 16, 2016 By Francesca Norsen Tate Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Christ Church-Cobble Hill was severely damaged when lightning struck the building at Clinton and Kane streets on July 26, 2012, causing the death of local resident Richard Schwartz. Construction crews are pictured removing the tower. Eagle photo by Francesca N. Tate
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The parishioners of Christ Church-Cobble Hill understand the meaning of perseverance through tragedy. And they will mark that tenacity this Sunday when they gather for a deanery-wide Evensong commemorating the Feast of St. Mary the Virgin, an annual tradition for Episcopal parishes in Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens and others along the waterfront up to Greenpoint and Williamsburg.

Just over four years ago, on July 26, 2012, the roof of the circa-1842 church was severely damaged as the result of a lightning strike. Department of Buildings spokesperson Ryan Fitzgibbon told the Brooklyn Eagle at the time that stones from the bell tower were knocked loose and collapsed onto scaffolding below, which in turn was dislodged and fell onto the street. Richard Schwartz, a lawyer for the state Attorney General’s Office who lived nearby, was walking past the church and was killed as a result of the collapse.

As a result of that damage, the church’s iconic tower had to be dismantled. NYC Department of Buildings records indicate that Christ Church is landmarked. City Finance Department records show that the Trustees of the Estate of the Diocese of Long Island have owned the property since 1971.

However, there is a distinction between a church edifice and the Church as the Body of Christ, the Very Rev. Ronald T. Lau, rector of Christ Church, pointed out at the time of the tragedy.

“There is a difference between a church of the building, and a church of the people who worship in the building. And my principal concern is the church of the people here who make up this the community; and our larger community, which includes many of our neighbors and our partnerships.”

During that time, neighboring houses of worship, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and the Kane St. Synagogue, opened their doors to Christ Church’s congregation. The Kane St. Synagogue offered a large community room in its Sol and Lillian Goldman Educational Center, which was built in 2003. With the sanctuary itself still unusable, the congregation has been worshiping in its Parish Hall on Sundays, Deacon Tony Bowen told the Eagle on Tuesday.

And it is that church of the people who will gather in the Parish Hall, to the rear of the property, at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 21 to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary. Although the Feast of the Assumption is a set Holy Day on Aug. 15, the Deanery of St. Mark, which includes Christ Church and neighboring Episcopal parishes, observes this on a weekend so to widen the celebration. Following the Evensong will be a barbecue.

The Rev. Julie Hoplamazian, associate rector at Grace Church, will preach.

Don Barnum, Christ Church’s director of music, told the Eagle that the parish choir with the Canoni Chorale will sing the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis canticles; on this occasion, fauxbourdon settings by William Byrd. Anthems will be Benjamin Britten’s “Hymn to the Virgin,” an Ars Nova piece from the 14th century: Laudemus Virginem, and Palestrina’s motet, “O Gloriosa Virginum.” Rounding out the liturgy will be hymns to the Blessed Virgin.

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