Brooklyn Boro

Faith In Brooklyn for June 14

June 14, 2018 By Francesca Norsen Tate, Religion Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Pastor Kienzle at the pulpit of the Park Church Co-Op. Photo courtesy of Park Church Co-Op

Park Church Co-Op Launches Drive To Expand Membership, Ministries

The Park Church Co-Op, a Lutheran ministry serving Greenpoint, has launched a drive to grow the congregation and increase donations, with the goal of being self-sustaining by the end of this year.

The church’s determination to expand as a viable church brings to the forefront a delicate balance between meeting organizational deadlines and measuring its membership’s intangible spiritual growth.

Facing closure when its grant from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and Metropolitan New York Synod expires at the end of 2018, the church made the decision to survive. The church, on Russell Street across from Greenpoint’s McGolrick Park, launched its campaign to increase the number of worshipers attending Sunday services, to generate more giving from the community-at-large, and to expand the church’s outreach programs.

“As a church, we have been growing slowly but steadily since I arrived in 2015,” said Pastor Amy Kienzle, who took the helm of what had previously been known as the Church of the Messiah. “But we are facing a deadline this fall for showing that we can sustain ourselves with both people and money, without needing as much funding from the larger Lutheran organizations. This is a challenge that I feel confident we will meet but our efforts are dependent on all church members and our partners in the community.”

Kienzle has now reached out to all denominations and faiths, as well as friends and neighbors in a spirit of “radical openness” that furthers Christian teachings of “love thy neighbor.”

“Our number one mission is to bring healing to people,” she said.

A leader in social outreach programs and a groundbreaking cultural venue, Park Church Co-Op supports its outreach activities primarily through weekly donations from congregants.

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The current campaign encourages weekly pledge commitments ranging from $5 up to $100, with special gifts and modest perks attached to each level of giving. The co-op also hopes to engage local businesses and organizations in the supporting the mission.

Sunday morning services, which begin at 11 a.m. currently draw 25-30 people, a number that the church is seeking to increase to 50 over the summer.

Moreover, Park Church Co-Op is involved in community outreach through its homeless respite program that offers shelter to 15 people in the winter. It also opens its doors to community meetings, after-school programming and artistic endeavors, such as film shoots and art shows.

The Park Church Co-Op’s home is an historic church building marking its 110th year, formerly the Lutheran Church of the Messiah.

“We are thankful for the foundation the faithful people of that church built over the past century. We look forward to the future, reaching out to all of our neighbors—the long-time and brand-new residents—to provide relevant spiritual nourishment in these changing times,” says Kienzle.

However, Kienzle points out that healing and building a sense of spiritual safety and trust among church members takes time—often longer than the deadlines set by denominational bodies.

When Park Church learned that it would not be receiving more funds and would probably have to close, it was the wider community that also spoke up.

“The community that we built was shocked that Park Church would be closing, and expressed that shock to the bishop’s office and the ELCA representative,” said Kienzle. As a result, Park Church was granted a probationary period to meet certain benchmarks in membership growth and financial stewardship.

Donation pledges to the co-op can be made through the new With Friends giving website at https://withfriends.co/park_church_co_op/join.

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Iftars Around Brooklyn Unite Different Peoples

Love and Justice are two cornerstones of the three Abrahamic traditions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. And in community Iftars around Brooklyn, these actions were at the forefront.

An Iftar is the traditional break-the-fast meal that Muslims take following a rigorous daylong fast that is made even more pronounced during the summer months’ increased daylight. During that time, Muslims abstain from food, water and pleasurable activities. They also are commanded to abstain from negativity, anger and other iniquities of the heart, instead focusing on charity and inner discipline. The last 10 days of Ramadan are considered a time of great revelation. Ramadan concludes this weekend.

Charity, discipline and the just treatment of fellow human beings were the themes reinforced through the evening at two community Iftars in particular. Beth Shalom v’Emeth Reform Temple (B’ShERT) in Victorian Flatbush hosted an Iftar that the Interfaith Coalition of Brooklyn organized for May 31. A week later, on June 7, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams hosted Borough Hall’s 13th annual Iftar.

B’ShERT’s Iftar brought together several faith groups, including the East Midwood Jewish Center, Our Lady of Refuge Roman Catholic Church, the Turkish Cultural Center, the Council of Peoples Organization, the Peace Islands Institute, the American Council of Minority Women and the North East Islamic Community Center. They shared a meal, and learned the beloved Hebrew song Shalom Chavurim. They also bid a tender farewell to B’ShERT’s Cantor Suzanne Bernstein, who recently retired from that role.

One of the evening’s highlights was a creative project in which Jews, Muslims and Christians at each of the round tables teamed up to compose a prayer. Then representatives from each table read the prayers—many of which emphasized thanksgiving, joy, unity and blessings.

At Borough Hall, speakers including Adams — who has for many years honored individuals in the Muslim community who have brought people together peacefully — emphasized the urgency of continuing to do so in the current political environment.

Adams said, “I want to speak about the importance of highlighting the borough’s religious diversity and strengthening interfaith ties in an environment of divisive political rhetoric nationally and an increase in bias-based attacks locally.”

One of the groups whom he recognized at the June 7 Iftar had organized an event to counteract the “Punish A Muslim Day,” that had originated in the United Kingdom and then gone viral. Abdul Elenani, CEO and founder of the Brooklyn-based company Cocoa Grinder, created a “Love A Muslim Day,” in response. That idea also caught on quickly, with people donating coffee, meals and other acts of kindness.

One of the honorees was an organization, the Yemeni American Merchants Association, which has organized national bodega strikes to protest the Trump administration’s executive order that bans migration citizens from Muslim-majority nations. Accepting the citation on behalf of YAMA was board member Saleh Hassan.

Among the other honorees: Yasmin Dwedar, an advocate for taxi and limousine drivers; Sergeant Zagham Abbas; youth Kazi Ateea; Douglas Jablon, executive vice president for patient relations and special assistant to the president of Maimonides Medical Center and frequent speaker at interfaith events; and Abddul Jaber, who received a Lifetime Award.

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Iftar at Brooklyn Borough Hall

Borough President Adams has for many years honored individuals in the Muslim community who have brought people together peacefully. He and many of the speakers emphasized the urgency of continuing to do so in the current political environment.

Adams, whose experience in law enforcement brings him to emphasize the need to prevent and stop hate crimes, said, “I want to speak about the importance of highlighting the borough’s religious diversity and strengthening interfaith ties in an environment of divisive political rhetoric nationally and an increase in bias-based attacks locally.”

One of the groups whom he recognized at the June 7 Iftar had organized an event to counteract the “Punish A Muslim Day,” that had originated in the United Kingdom and then gone viral. Abdul Elenani, CEO and founder of the Brooklyn-based company Cocoa Grinder, created a “Love A Muslim Day,” in response. That idea also caught on quickly, with people donating coffee, meals and other acts of kindness.

One of the honorees was an organization, the Yemeni American Merchants Association, which has organized national bodega strikes to protest the Trump administration’s executive order that bans migration citizens from Muslim-majority nations. Accepting the citation on behalf of YAMA was board member Saleh Hassan.

Among the other honorees: Yasmin Dwedar, an advocate for taxi and limousine drivers; Sergeant Zagham Abbas; youth Kazi Ateea; Douglas Jablon, executive vice president for patient relations and special assistant to the president of Maimonides Medical Center and frequent speaker at interfaith events; and Abddul Jaber, who received a Lifetime Award.

Among the guests was Judge Analisa Torres, U.S. District Court, Manhattan, for whom Dwedar has served as law clerk.

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Catholic Charities’ Job Fair Will Offer On-the-Spot Interviews

Need an on-the-spot job interview? Visit the Catholic Charities Job Fair being held next week at St. Francis College.

Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens will host a Job Fair with On-the- Spot Interviews on Thursday, June 21. The fair will be held in the college’s Callahan Center, 180 Remsen St. in Brooklyn Heights, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Prospective candidates will have a chance to apply and interview for available positions in five program and service areas.

Candidates attending the job fair will interview with human resource professionals for full-time positions in the following program and service areas: Behavioral Health Services, Early Childhood Services, Family Stabilization Services, Housing Services and Older Adult Services. Jobs range from cooking, driving and maintenance, to clinical management and social work at several levels.

Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens will offer employment opportunities in lines of service across both boroughs and a flexible benefits program. This no-cost event is open to the public and applicants are encouraged to arrive with resumes, dressed professionally and ready for an interview.

Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens is an Equal Opportunity/ Affirmative Action Employer. Anyone seeking more information should call the Catholic Charities Human Resources Office at 718-722-6190.

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