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Faith In Brooklyn for March 28

March 28, 2018 By Francesca Norsen Tate, Religion Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Search/Welcome Committee (pictured in foreground) leads a toast to the new rector of Grace Church, the Rev. Dr. Allen F. Robinson (wearing white alb and holding greeting cards that the parish children made for him). Eagle photo by Francesca N. Tate

The Rev Dr. Allen F. Robinson Marks His First Sunday as Grace Church’s Rector

Dr. Robinson Preaches on Jesus Non-Corruptibility

Grace Church last Sunday jubilantly welcomed the Rev. Dr. Allen F. Robinson as its 15th rector.

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The liturgical date was Palm Sunday, which also begins jubilantly but quickly changes in mood as the Passion story is narrated about Jesus’ betrayal, suffering and crucifixion. Robinson, in his sermon, focused on the authentic nature of Jesus’ being a threat to the powerful people in his day. He also praised Grace Church for the work it has already begun in the wider world.

“Why did so many high-powered people pay attention to Jesus … trying to figure out how to deal with him?” asked Robinson. “I think that we can answer that question by reflecting on something from Henri Nouwen’s book ‘The Selfless Way of Christ.’ The reason that the establishment was so threatened by Jesus — someone who didn’t own anything, and someone who did not have any official powers, and someone who did not even have a proper education — [was] because Jesus owned nothing, and had nothing, [therefore] there was nothing with which they could bribe Jesus.

“…because Jesus was stripped of material goods, and materialism, Jesus was being authentic,” said Robinson.

“But Jesus is so deeply embedded in his relationship with God. And so in the test we learn what Jesus understood: that we have to all go through a little of trial and tribulation. There’s always glory in the end. We don’t go through difficulties because God is bored with us, or getting even or because God is vindictive. No! God knows that if we’re able to be faithful through whatever challenges come our way, we will be all the stronger for it in the end.”

Robinson’s words reflected the parish’s experience during the period they were searching for a new rector. The challenge became even more pronounced last summer when the interim priest, the Rev. Anne F.C. Richards, became ill and died. Her passing occurred three days after the announcement of the new rector in January, but before his arrival earlier this month. During this period, the search committee and lay leadership worked diligently to continue Grace Church’s ministries, and the Rev. Jim Hagen, an assisting priest, provided pastoral leadership.

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The Chapin Sisters Set to Perform At Pace University’s Schimmel Center

The Schimmel Center will present Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter and guitarist Tom Chapin in a collaborative performance with his daughters, Lily and Abigail — The Chapin Sisters — next month.

The concert will feature original and traditional songs by the acclaimed family roots group including “Cat’s in the Cradle,” “Remember When the Music,” and “Circle” by Harry Chapin, as well as “Pass the Music On,” and “This Pretty Planet” by Tom Chapin.

The elder generation of Chapin Brothers — Harry, Steve and Tom, got their musical start in the Grace Church Men & Boys Choir, under the direction of Anne Versteeg McKittrick, during the 1950s and ’60s. Each was prolific, but Harry met a tragic end: he was killed in a traffic accident on the Long Island Expressway in July 1981.

Tom Chapin, whose career spans five decades, 26 albums and three Grammy Awards, has covered an extensive amount of creative ground, maintaining two long and productive parallel musical vocations, both as a respected contemporary folk artist and as a pioneer of children’s music. Within the last few months, Tom won the Best Male Artist Award from the International Acoustic Music Awards, had a third reprinting of children’s book “The Library Book” by Simon & Schuster, and was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Music from his alma mater SUNY/Plattsburgh. Besides his work as a recording artist and concert performer, he has acted on Broadway and worked extensively in TV, radio and film. Tom is on the board of WhyHunger and remains active in a variety of environmental causes, and efforts on behalf of music and the arts in the public schools.

The Chapin Sisters are singing and songwriting siblings known for pristine harmonies and haunting melodies. They’ve been compared to sister-acts of old and Appalachian family groups, yet their original songs and arrangements have a contemporary feel. They have toured the world on their own and as backing singers.

The concert coincides with the debut of the album “At the Turning Point,” which celebrates 30 years of collaborations between Tom Chapin & Friends. The album was recorded live at the Turning Point club in Piermont, N.Y., and is set to be released by Sundance Records on May 15. The Chapin Sisters additionally will perform songs from their forthcoming recording, “Ferry Boat,” which will be released by Loantaka Records on April 30.

Tom Chapin and The Chapin Sisters are joined by musician, composer and arranger Jon Cobert (piano, accordion, vocals), and Drama Desk Award-winner Michael Mark (bass, concertina, penny whistle, vocals), who are featured on Tom’s family and adult recordings, in addition to “At the Turning Point.”

The concert takes place on Friday, April 20 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available at, by calling 212-346-1715 or by visiting the box office located at 3 Spruce St. The Schimmel Center box office is open Tuesdays through Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. and three hours prior to performances.

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Holy Week Observances Offered Around Brooklyn

Last Sunday, Latin Rite Christians in Brooklyn and around the world began the observance of Holy Week, which commemorates the Last Supper, Passion and Crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. Christians believe that Jesus was divine (both God and human) and that he died to atone for the sins of humankind and reconcile people to God.

(The Latin Rite includes Romans and Maronite Catholics, as well as some high-liturgical Anglican/Episcopal churches. Most Protestants follow the Latin Rite liturgical calendar.) Eastern Orthodox Christians will observe the Passiontide and Easter (Pascha) a week later.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn announced that parishes and neighborhoods around the borough will be observing Holy Week with special services and processions.

The Mass of Chrism was scheduled to take place after this column went to press, on Tuesday evening, March 27. During this annual liturgy, Bishop of Brooklyn Nicholas DiMarzio leads hundreds of priests and deacons in renewing their promises of service to the Church. The bishop also consecrates the oils to be used in the diocese for the sacraments during the coming year. The Chrism Mass was held at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph, in Prospect Heights. The sanctuary seats more than 1,500.

On Holy Thursday, DiMarzio will celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, which commemorates the institution of the Holy Eucharist and the priesthood. This will be held at Our Lady of Angels Church, 7320 Fourth Ave. at 7 p.m.

Several large events will take place on Good Friday to commemorate the day Jesus Christ died on the cross. The apostolic group Communion and Liberation will sponsor an outdoor procession, “Way of the Cross Over the Brooklyn Bridge,” that begins at 10 a.m. at the Cathedral Basilica of St. James, 250 Cathedral Place in Downtown Brooklyn. Timothy Cardinal Dolan and DiMarzio will offer the opening prayer and reflection. The group will then process over the Brooklyn Bridge to Ground Zero, symbolically walking the path of Jesus toward his crucifixion. Along the way, the marchers will stop and pray the Stations of the Cross.

DiMarzio will preside over a 3 p.m. Good Friday Service of the Lord’s Passion at St. Athanasius Church 2154 61st St., in Bensonhurst

Thousands of Catholics will gather at St. Dominic Church, 2001 Bay Ridge Parkway, for their annual procession, starting at 7:30 p.m., through the streets of Bensonhurst. DiMarzio will lead the worshipers who will carry crosses and statues, symbolizing Jesus’ walk to Calvary. The diocese’s Italian Apostolate organizes the procession. Along the journey, participants will pray in Italian. The walk will end at St. Athanasius Church, located at 2154 61st St.

The Church commemorates Holy Saturday as the time Jesus spent in the tomb. Then, after sunset, Easter vigil services throughout Brooklyn and Queens will celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is the most important liturgy of the year. Services will begin in the dark and dramatically light up to symbolize the risen Lord. This year, DiMarzio will celebrate the Easter vigil at 8 p.m. at St. Michael’s Church, 138-65 Barclay Ave. in Flushing, Queens. That is where 73 candidates will receive the Sacraments of Initiation; 60 will receive Baptism, Confirmation and Communion; and 13 will receive Confirmation and Communion.

On Easter Sunday, churches throughout Brooklyn and Queens will continue to celebrate the resurrection. DiMarzio will preside over Mass at 11 a.m. at the Cathedral Basilica of St. James, 250 Cathedral Place in Downtown Brooklyn.

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In Memoriam: The Rev. Martha Renn, 82, Dies, Served as Interfaith Chaplain Here

The Brooklyn Heights community mourns the death of the Rev. Martha Ann Renn. Known as Rev. Marti, she died at home on March 6 after a long illness.

Renn was a longtime member of Grace Church, serving on the Healing Prayer Team and as a pastoral assistant and chaplain. However, she belonged also to the wider community.

She gave her time extensively in the hours and days following the Sept. 11 terror attacks to minister to the patients and staff at Long Island College Hospital, and to the families of the missing firefighters of the FDNY’s Engine Co. 205 and Engine 118.

Renn, who had demonstrated pastoral skills long before her ordination, was already doing chaplaincy work and discerned a call beyond traditional parish ministry. Matriculating at One Spirit Interfaith Seminary, she graduated in 2006 and ordained that year as an interfaith minister. This gave her the flexibility of ministering to people beyond the Christian tradition when needed. According to documents from Grace Church, the Rev. Stephen D. Muncie, former rector of Grace Church, also appointed Renn as a professional parish staff member. Renn was active in the Brooklyn Heights Clergy Association as well.

Survivors include her wife and partner of more than 50 years, Dale Irwin. Memorial gifts can be sent to Pace University’s LGBTQA & Social Justice Center.

A memorial service will take place at Grace Church Brooklyn Heights at noon on Saturday, April 7.



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