Brooklyn Boro

Faith In Brooklyn for April 17

April 17, 2018 By Francesca Norsen Tate, Religion Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Religious Society of Friends Meeting House on Schermerhorn Street. Photo courtesy of the New York Landmarks Conservancy

Brooklyn houses of worship open their doors to the wider community

Sacred Sites Open House Kicks Off With Celebration Concert This Weekend

The New York Landmarks Conservancy’s eighth annual “Sacred Sites Open House” — on the first weekend of May this year — offers New Yorkers the opportunity to see many of the state’s most impressive sanctuaries, and an opportunity to view the artistic treasures of many faiths, styles and periods. More than 150 religious institutions across the city and state are participating.

This year’s theme, “Sacred Sounds and Settings,” provides a backdrop for congregations to showcase musical and performance activities via organ demonstrations, concerts and special guided tours of their buildings. The weekend also highlights other cultural and social programs offered to their communities throughout the year.

As part of the weekend, the American Guild of Organists will present world-acclaimed organist Loreto Aramendi in concert, to be held at Plymouth Church, one of the landmark meeting houses that has for many years participated in the Sacred Sites weekends. (See story on Loreto Aramendi, below.)

“This is a wonderful opportunity to hear beautiful music in beautiful spaces,” said Peg Breen, president of the New York Landmarks Conservancy. “It’s also fun to explore great buildings you have walked by but never thought to enter without this special invitation.”

The weekend includes a “Discover Brooklyn! Tour.”

Brooklyn is known as the Borough of Churches, and Marianne Hurley of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission will lead visitors on a tour of the varied architectural religious styles of the city’s first historic district, Brooklyn Heights. Exterior site visits will include: Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (1842); Plymouth Church (1850); First Presbyterian Church (1846); Zion German Evangelical Lutheran Church (1887); The First Unitarian Congregational Society (1846); The Church of St. Ann and the Holy Trinity (1847); The Brooklyn Heights Synagogue (1858); Congregation B’nai Avraham (1844); and Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral (1844).  The tour will conclude at Richard Upjohn’s Gothic Revival Grace Church with an interior walk-through and a short presentation by Grace Church’s organist, Paul Richard Olson.

News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

The starting point of the tour, Sunday, May 6 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., will be at Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 55 Cranberry St. between Hicks and Henry streets. Brooklyn houses of worship opening their doors include, as of press time:

  • St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church, 157 Montague St.: Saturday, May 5, noon to 4 p.m. and Sunday, May 6, noon to 3 p.m.;

  • Brooklyn Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), 110 Schermerhorn St.: Saturday, May 5, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Sunday, May 6, noon to 1 p.m.

  • First Unitarian Congregational Society (119 Pierrepont St.): Saturday, May 5, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday, May 6, 1 to 3 p.m.

Advanced registration is required: Register for pre-booked tours and to view a digital guide of all sacred sites participating in the Landmarks Conservancy’s Open House via or

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Organ Virtuoso Loreto Aramendi Returns to Brooklyn for Special Recital

Concert Is Part of NY Landmarks Conservancy’s Launch Of 2018 Sacred Sounds and Settings Open House

The Brooklyn Chapter of the American Guild of Organists will present Spanish pipe organ virtuoso Loreto Aramendi in concert.  Historic Plymouth Church, (57 Orange St., Brooklyn Heights) will be the host. The Chapter is honored to work in conjunction with the New York Landmarks Conservancy, for whom it will kick off the 2018 Sacred Sounds and Settings Open House.

This performance marks the second Brooklyn recital for the internationally-acclaimed Aramendi. She also played here in March 2015 at Our Lady of Refuge Roman Catholic Church in Midwood, as part of that parish’s Organ Restoration recital series. She returned to the United States in 2016 for a performance tour that included New York City’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Both Our Lady of Refuge and St. Patrick’s Cathedral’s organs were built by George Kilgen & Son.

Ms. Aramendi will bring her world-renowned artistry to bear on Plymouth Church’s 1937 Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ, an exemplar of the “American Classic” school of pipe organ design.  She’ll perform a wide-ranging program of organ music and transcriptions of Buxtehude, Fauré, Ligeti, Liszt, Pärt, Rachmaninoff, Saint-Saëns and Tournemire. Readers can learn more about Ms. Aramendi’s astonishing career at, and can watch video of her fiery performances at  More info on the church and its organ can be found at

Tickets for this concert, on Sunday, April 22 at 5 p.m., will be available at the door for $20, ($10 for students and seniors).

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Priest from Brooklyn Named As New Diocesan Canon for Stewardship

The Rev. Suzanne M. Culhane, a lifelong Episcopalian who grew up in Brooklyn and was a parishioner at St. John’s Church-Fort Hamilton, has been named to a new diocesan position of Canon for Stewardship.

The Rt. Rev. Lawrence Provenzano, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island, made the announcement on April 5.

Canon Culhane will focus on diocesan capital needs, conduct a needs assessment and feasibility study, and will implement capital campaigns and coordinate major fundraising efforts of the Cathedral of the Incarnation, Episcopal Ministries of Long Island and Camp DeWolfe.

She will also begin a stewardship formation plan for the diocese and parishes through teaching at the Mercer School and offering regional classes as needed, and she will initiate regular visits with each parish and will offer consulting assistance on behalf of the bishop’s office. She will begin her position on May 19.

She will additionally continue parish ministry as priest-in-charge of St. Philip’s Church in Dyker Heights.

Culhane currently serves as the assistant for stewardship at Christ Church in Greenwich, Connecticut where she has been focused on parish development, including stewardship and membership.

Bishop Provenzano says, “Canon Culhane comes to the diocese at a critical moment in the development of our diocesan-wide ministry. An essential part of developing sustainable ministry throughout the diocese is dependent upon a formation and education focus on practical stewardship. An example of this practical stewardship is reflected in her wish to have her ministry anchored in a local worshiping community. With this kind of commitment, I feel confident that Cn. Culhane possesses both the knowledge and the spirit to help our diocese move forward in these areas.”

She has nearly 20 years of nonprofit management experience, with expertise in providing development counsel to religious and social service organizations. She has provided consulting assistance to numerous parishes and church groups, including Trinity Church Copley Square in Boston, The Church of the Ascension in New York, The Chapel of the Cross in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and The Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral in New York.

Culhane frequently leads workshops and retreats in addition to clergy coaching around stewardship and fundraising. She holds a Master of Divinity from Episcopal Divinity School and a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from Siena College.

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Faith Milestones:

Lincoln’s Assassination, National Grief Weighed Heavily in Clergy Sermons

This week in Brooklyn’s religious history, the Brooklyn Eagle carried extensive coverage on the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, three days earlier, on what happened to be Good Friday. He was in the theater that night when well-known actor John Wilkes Booth shot him at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C. Booth, a Confederate sympathizer, shot Lincoln just five days after General Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House in Virginia.

The Eagle’s religion section carried redactions and summaries of sermons from clergy in various churches around Brooklyn. Among these were: the Rev. Dr. Charles Pise, pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Church; the Rev. William Alvin Bartlett of Elm Place Congregational Church; the Rev. Dr. Abram Newkirk Littlejohn, of Holy Trinity Church; the Rev. Mr. Chase (first name not given) of the Strong Place Baptist Church; the Rev. Mr. Johnson, a Baltimore pastor who preached at the First Universalist Church that day; the Very Rev. William Keegan, pastor of Assumption Church and vicar general of the Diocese of Brooklyn; the Rev. Mr. J.M.I. Barton, who preached at Plymouth Church while Henry Ward Beecher was away on the Sumter excursion; and the Rev. Dr. Farley at First Unitarian Church. (Dr. Farley was pastor of the Second Unitarian Church — an offshoot of the congregation at Pierrepont St. and Monroe Place.) Dr. Littlejohn would be consecrated as the first bishop of the Diocese of Long Island in 1869.

The Eagle reporter observed, “Yesterday was Easter Sunday, the anniversary of the day on which the Saviour arose from the dead. The churches were very largely attended, and a gloom appeared to pervade every mind. Where all should have been joyous, all was sorrowful. The subject of the majority of the sermons was the assassination of our late National Executive, and many eulogies were pronounced upon his character and career.”

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