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Faith In Brooklyn for January 18: Brooklyn church secures $1.5M, breaks ground on senior housing

Borough President Adams, Councilmember Williams help underwrite East Flatbush construction project

January 18, 2019 By Francesca Norsen Tate Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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The Evangelical Crusade of Fishers of Men, in partnership with community leaders and residents, broke ground on Sun., Jan. 13, on a new low-income senior housing development project in East Flatbush.

Seniors on a fixed income who live in apartments that are not rent-regulated may find themselves at greater risk for eviction if their landlords engage in predatory practices.

Because of the unprecedented need for affordable housing in Brooklyn, considered one of the epicenters of gentrification, this longstanding congregation is expanding its 45-year ministry by providing shelter that would enable seniors to age in place.

The Bishop Philius and Helene Nicolas Senior Residence Project (BPHN), named in honor of the church’s founding bishop and first lady, will be an 89-unit apartment building for seniors ages 62 and older who earn less than 50 percent of the area median income (AMI).

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The residence, at 1488 New York Avenue, will consist of 88 studio rental units and one one-bedroom super’s unit. It will also include a community room, common area space, laundry facilities and on-site social services.

Additionally, there will be a 10,575 sq. ft. community service facility located on the first and cellar levels that the congregation has envisioned as a medical office suite for geriatric primary care.

The construction of this $45 million project has been financed through discretionary capital allocations from Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams of $1 million and Councilmember Jumaane Williams of $500,000, the Senior Affordable Rental Apartment (SARA) program of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, and Bank of America’s debt and equity financing programs.

The building will be developed by BEL Community Housing LLC, which is a partnership between Brisa Builders Development LLC; Evergreen City LLC, an M/WBE affordable housing development group; and Lemle & Wolff Dev. Co. It was designed by Heritage Architecture and Rodney Leon Architects.

“The Bishop Philius and Helene Nicolas Senior Residence Project is our answer to God’s call to serve the community and meet a fundamental human need—shelter. God has rewarded our faith by bringing to fruition a project that we’ve been speaking about for the past 12 years. This building will enable us to expand our capacity to help our neighbors live a better life. We are grateful for the opportunity to fulfill our mission on this earth and work with great partners to strengthen the East Flatbush community,” said Rev. Dr. Samuel Nicolas, senior pastor.

“Through the unwavering efforts of Borough President Adams’ Faith-Based Development Initiative, another church was able to expand their ministry to include building shelter for the residents of the Brooklyn community during a housing crisis. Evangelical Crusade Christian Church, in partnership with the development team and the City of New York, had the faith to see their vision come to fruition and are able to celebrate that victory with this ceremonial groundbreaking. I am honored and humbled to have been a part of this journey,” said Ericka Keller, Managing Member,  BEL Community Housing LLC.


17th-century church in Park Slope hosts Martin Luther King Interfaith service

The Old First Reformed Church, founded in 1654 and marking its 365th anniversary this year, will host a Martin Luther King Interfaith Commemoration on Sun., Jan. 20 at 3 p.m.

“This service of music, readings and prayer will bring together six communities for an afternoon of justice and hope,” wrote the Rev. Steven Paulikas, rector of All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Park Slope. Old First Reformed Church is at Seventh Avenue and Carroll Street, a few blocks north of All Saints.

The Old First Reformed Church, dating to 1654, will host this year’s interfaith observance of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday on Jan. 20. Photo courtesy of the New York Landmarks Conservancy


Brooklyn chapter of Organists’ Guild announces competition, youth event

The Brooklyn Chapter of the American Guild of Organists is currently accepting applications for its fourth annual George R. Mathison Memorial Scholarship Competition.

The chapter established its annual George R. Mathison Memorial Scholarship Competition in honor of its friend and colleague. The competition’s purpose is to encourage excellence in the performance of organ music, and to inspire, educate and nurture future generations of organists.

The 2019 competition will take place on Mar. 2, at Grace Church Brooklyn Heights. Candidates will play the church’s 69-rank 2001 Austin pipe organ.

The prize pool totals $2,000, with a first-place prize of $1,000, a second-place prize of $650, and a third-place prize of $350. The application deadline is Feb. 2. For more information, including eligibility and repertoire requirements and the application form, visit

The winners of the 2018 George R. Mathison Memorial Scholarship Competition give a bow at their recent victory recital. Pictured, left to right: Roshane Chakane (third prize winner); Evan Currie (second prize winner) and Austin Philemon (first prize winner). Photo courtesy of Joe Vitacco


Children in grades three to six who have had some experience with the piano are invited to hear, play and explore the pipe organ. A free event, titled “Pipes, Pedals, and Pizza,” will take place Sat., Jan. 26 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Brooklyn Chapter of the American Guild of Organists sponsors the event. For more information or to reserve a spot, email [email protected].


From the original Eagle Archives:

Bishop McDonnell dedicated New Redemptorist Church

The Brooklyn Eagle of Sun., Jan. 14, 1894 reported, “To-day Bishop McDonnell will dedicate the new church of Our Lady of Perpetual Help which the Redemptorist fathers have built at Fifth Avenue and Fifty-Ninth St. [in what is now Sunset Park]. The ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. and an imposing gathering is expected. The first church of one of the regular orders in the diocese of Brooklyn  will thus be formally consecrated to its sacred purposes. Bishop McDonnell gave the Redemptorists permission to locate in the Diocese in the autumn of 1892.”

A brief report in the following day’s Eagle mentioned that the neighboring Diocese of New York was well-represented at the dedication.

The Redemptorists were founded by St. Alphonsus Liguori (born 1696) in Naples to serve the poor and spiritually-abandoned.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica at it looks today. Photo courtesy of Rev. John McKenna, C.SS.R.

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