Brooklyn Religion Briefs: Plymouth Church receives Habitat for Humanity award

Rev. Dr. David C. Fisher, Senior Minister of Plymouth Church (at left) receives congratulations from a Habitat for Humanity Faith Partner, Senior Rabbi Andy Bachman of Congregation Beth Elohim. Photo credit:

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Plymouth Church has received Habitat for Humanity-NYC’s 2013 Builder Award.

The landmark church was honored for its commitment to the mission of Habitat-NYC by volunteering to build homes, participating in advocacy campaigns, offering financial support and taking part in special events such as Habitat-NYC’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. build.

Accepting the Richard Wong Faith-in-Action Award, Plymouth joined fellow honorees E*Trade, Corporate Partner of the Year, and Brooklyn homeowner
Theresa Lyde, Family Partner of the Year.

“Thanks to our many generous and committed supporters, the Builder Awards will help us build more affordable homes for New York City families in need as well as help families affected by Hurricane Sandy,” said Habitat-NYC Acting
Executive Director Rachel Hyman.

Habitat for Humanity-New York City is the largest builder of Habitat homes in the Northeast, and thousands of volunteers build with Habitat-NYC each year. Each homebuyer contributes at least 200 volunteer hours as part of their partnership.

The Habitat-NYC Builder Awards Gala on Jan. 29 was held at Cipriani Wall Street, with Steve Lacy, anchor for the 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. News on Fox 5, and Ines Rosales, Traffic Reporter for Good Day New York on Fox 5, serving as emcees. Other special guests included Habitat-NYC Board Member and Credit Suisse Vice Chairman Douglas L. Paul; Habitat-NYC Board Chair Peter Knitzer; Habitat-NYC Board Member Rodneyse Bichotte, 42nd Assembly (Brooklyn) State Committeewoman/District Leader; and faith partner Rabbi Andy Bachman, Senior Rabbi of Congregation Beth Elohim, a Reform temple in Park Slope.

Habitat for Humanity-New York City transforms lives and neighborhoods by building quality homes for families in need and by uniting all New Yorkers around the cause of affordable housing. With the help of thousands of volunteers every year, Habitat-NYC has built more than 260 affordable homes in the five boroughs of New York City.

• • •

Legacy of Vatican II and Church reforms are topic of St. Joseph’s College lecture

The Institute for the Study of Religion in Community Life at St. Joseph’s College continues its “Vatican II – 50 Years Later” lecture series with “Vatican II: Is it Finished?” on Wednesday, Feb. 20.

The presenter is Rev. Msgr. John J. Strynkowski, Ph.D., rector of the Cathedral Basilica of St. James in Downtown Brooklyn, which is the Cathedral See for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn.

The lecture series reflects on Vatican II, formally known as the Second Vatican Council, which was assembled in 1962 to address relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the modern world, with the primary hope of mending the relationship between the Church and the Jewish community. By the time it concluded three years later, it had fundamentally altered the religious landscape.

The presenter, Msgr. Strynkowski, was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Brooklyn. He has served as a parochial vicar, an official of the Vatican’s Secretariat of State and then the Congregation for Bishops. He was also a professor of theology, a rector at the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, N.Y., a pastor, and the executive director of the Secretariat for Doctrine and Pastoral Practices at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Founded in 2001, The Institute for the Study of Religion in Community Life investigates and articulates the various roles religious institutions and individual people of faith can take to enhance community life. The Institute sponsors research projects and educational seminars, develops cooperative programs with various religious organizations in the community and searches for service opportunities in the community for faculty and students.

The lecture, which is free and open to the public, begins at 6:30 p.m. on the 20th in the College’s Tuohy Hall Auditorium, 245 Clinton Avenue in Clinton Hill.

• • •

The Austin Organ at Grace Church Brooklyn Heights was featured in this week’s radio/internet program, Pipe Dreams.  A segment of the Stephen Tharp concert from a November, 2011 benefit concert was broadcast on Pipe Dreams: an arrangement of English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams’s hymn, “All Creatures of Our God and King.”  The benefit was hosted at Grace Church for the organ restoration project at Our Lady of Refuge Roman Catholic Church in Flatbush, which is nearing completion.

• • •

Contemplative prayer services feature Bach’s suites for cello

Grace Church-Brooklyn Heights will be hosting a series of contemplative services featuring Bach’s Six Suites for Unaccompanied Cello on six Tuesdays in Lent at 7 pm: Feb. 19, 26 and March 5, 12, 19, 26. Each week cellist Jennifer DeVore will play one of the suites alternating with intervals of silence and brief contemplative readings. The events are free of charge and all are welcome.

Lindsay Boyer, who facilitates a weekly contemplative prayer group at Grace Church says, “Bach’s Cello Suites are perfectly suited for a contemplative setting, so simple and yet transcendent. Unlike much of Bach’s other music, the cello suites may not have been written with a religious setting in mind and yet we can hear God speaking to us through them or simply rest in God’s presence as we listen to them. It seems quite natural to alternate their movements with brief scripture readings and periods of silence, in the style of lectio divina, a traditional way of listening to scripture with the ear of the heart, beyond intellectual thought.  In this way we hope to create a kind of ‘audio divina.’”

For more information contact Lindsay Boyer at

• • •

Widely-respected Brooklyn Rabbi will be guest speaker at Oratory’s Vespers service

The Brooklyn Oratory of St. Philip Neri, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this month, offers its Sunday Lenten Vespers 2013, with parishioners offering sermon-like reflections on a passage from the Epistle to the Philippians. The series will conclude with special guest speaker, Rabbi Joseph Potasnik.

The theme for this year’s Lenten Vespers is from Philippians 3, 8-14, 36: “The justice I possess is that which comes through faith in Christ. I wish to know Christ and the power flowing from the Resurrection.” The parishioner speakers will be: Mary Ellen Kramer, (Sunday, Feb. 17); Maureen Lally (Feb 24); Rudy Kamuf (March 3); Lolan Adan (March 10); and Gerri Hernandez (March 17).

Rabbi Potasnik will speak on a text from the Hebrew scriptures at the March 24 Vespers; his passage will be from Isaiah 28:16:  “Therefore thus says the Lord God: ‘Behold I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, a costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. Who believes in it will not be disturbed.”

Vespers begins at 4 p.m. on those Sundays. The Brooklyn Oratory is on Duffield St., just north of Willoughby St., in MetroTech.

• • •

Taizé Services incorporate song, readings and meditation

The community is invited to take part in an ongoing Taizé prayer service at St. Charles Borromeo Church on Monday evenings at 7:30 pm for Taizé prayer. The candlelit service, held on Mondays at 7:30 p.m. is in the tradition of the Taizé ecumenical community in France and includes song, scripture readings and a time for meditation on scripture. Prayer services are in the main sanctuary on Sidney Place, between Joralemon St. & Aitken Place in Brooklyn Heights, from 7:30-8:00 p.m. No registration is necessary; drop-ins are welcome.

• • •

Congregation Beth Elohim offers crash courses in Hebrew reading

Boot camp isn’t just for soldiers anymore.

Those wishing single-day immersions into learning the language of the siddur (Jewish prayer book) can now avail themselves of “Hebrew Boot Camp” workshops at Congregation Beth Elohim in Park Slope. The full-day workshops, which have been offered on select Sundays since October, are geared for those who want to learn Hebrew and decrease their dependency on transliterations in the prayer book. Rabbi Marc Katz and special guests have been leading the Hebrew aleph-bet through an interactive program. Participants need attend only one of the workshops. A minimum of eight persons is needed for the class to be held. The $35 cost includes supplies and lunch. The next two workshops are offered on Sundays, Feb. 10 and March 5. Each workshop runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Congregation Beth Elohim, 274 Garfield Place, in Park Slope. Interested readers should register via email to Rabbi Katz at

• • •

St. Charles Church hosts Concert Of Asteria - Medieval Love Songs

Sylvia Rhyne, soprano and Eric Redlinger, tenor and lutanist, will sing Medieval Love Songs inspired by Authurian Romance. Their concert is on Saturday after Valentine’s Day, Feb. 16 at 3 p.m.  A suggested donation of $20 is requested. (Cash only will be accepted at the door). For reservations contact or call 718-624-3614.

February 15, 2013 - 10:05am



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