By Francesca Norsen Tate, Religion Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Liberty Church-Brooklyn Holds Inaugural Service at UA Cinemas
A new church community was launched in Brooklyn last weekend—in a building currently used by a popular movie theater.
Liberty Church began weekly services on Sunday, Jan. 19 at the United Artists Cinema at 106 Court Street, thus realizing a major part of its vision to “impact 10 communities in 10 years.” The target date is 2020, as Liberty Church was founded, in New York City, four years ago, in 2010.
Lead Pastors Paul and Andi Andrew, a married couple, moved from Sydney, Australia, in 2010 to plant Liberty Church in New York City, “with a God-inspired dream to establish a Community, a Catalyst and a Cause, influencing a city that influences the world,” according to the church’s website. The first NYC-based services were begun in Tribeca in 2011; later that year a second Liberty Church community was established at Union Square. The Pastors Andrew also have built ministries in Zimbabwe and London.
Defining itself as “a Christian community with the audacity to believe that by His grace we could influence a city that influences the world,” Liberty Church reaches out as being a place
“For the young and the old, for believers & skeptics, for every tribe & tongue. For everyone. For Brooklyn.”
The church is also starting a course for new members that will be structured in a series of four 45-minute classes that take place the first four Sundays of each month right after services.
Smaller community groups, on topics ranging from marriage, to developing good habits, will also begin in early February. Liberty’s “What We Believe” page indicates a Bible-centered community with emphasis on gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Weekly services begin at 9:30 a.m., at the United Artists Cinema at 106 Court St., between State St. and Atlantic Ave. The Lounge opens at 9 a.m. with free tea and coffee. A Liberty Kids program provided and Spanish translation is available. See libertybrooklyn.com for details.
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Churches’ Worshiping in Theater Spaces Is Already Well-Established Practice
Liberty Church’s making its Brooklyn home at the UA Cinemas does not mark the first time that a church has used a movie house—either former or operational— for its worship space.
That precedent began several years ago, according to a 2009 article in Christianity Today. Ruth Moon, in her article, “Popcorn in the Pews,” pointed out, “movie theaters are the new churches. Some congregations plan to stay.” As of that Jan. 14, 2009 publication date, 180 churches already had rental agreements through National CineMedia. That number had increased from only three churches, six years back. Likewise, a Washington Post article three months earlier (October 2008) covered the same topic of churches meeting in movie theaters. And a more recent (2013) article on the Emerging-Anabaptist website discusses the pros and cons of worshiping in a movie theater. That site also has a tab for another angle: “Theology in the Movies.” Moreover, there are other churches which purchased and converted former movie theaters into a permanent worship space. Foremost among these in the Borough of Churches is The Brooklyn Tabernacle, which has made its home in two former movie houses. The Brooklyn Tabernacle worshiped in the former Carlton Theater at Flatbush and 7th avenues before the megachurch purchased and moved into the old Loew’s Metropolitan Theatre on Fulton Mall in 2002.
The aforementioned Washington Post article also pointed out that “most theater churches are evangelical and geared toward people in their 20s and 30s who are not drawn to conventional houses of worship.” This would certainly fit the description of Liberty Church, whose website shows many young singles and couples, with videos in which they share their stories on finding a spiritual home here.
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St. Ann’s Church, Mercer School Offer Course on Two Landmark Musicals
The year 1971 marked the premiere of two landmark faith-based musicals—the Stephen Schwartz version of Godspell and Leonard Bernstein’s Mass: A Theatre Piece. There is a greater connection between these two works than most people realize, as Schwartz and Bernstein collaborated on Mass. Their history is the subject of a course that Gregory Eaton, director of music at St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church, will teach, starting in February.
Eaton is teaching this course, titled Godspell and Bernstein's Mass: Faith and Unbelief in a Secular World, as part of the Spring 2014 classes available through the George Mercer Jr. Memorial School of Theology. The school sits on the campus of the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island’s headquarters in Garden City. However, the class will take place at St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church, here in Brownstone Brooklyn, on six alternating Wednesdays, starting Feb. 12.
This course proposes to examine both works closely, particularly the questions of faith and unbelief that each work articulates. “Of the two, Mass is the more deeply questioning, and the issues raised have as much resonance today as they did in 1971,” Eaton points out in his description of the course. “The six sessions of the class will also mirror our progression from Epiphany-tide through Lent and into Easter, as we discuss the impact that these works have on us as we hear them in the 21st Century.”
“It is my strong belief that there is a great deal to be learned by looking at these two works which both debuted in the same year,” Eaton added. “Though over 40 years old, both speak to the difficulties of faith in the world of 2014, and to how that faith should be expressed.”
Eaton recently marked his 20th anniversary as director of music and organist of St. Ann & the Holy Trinity, joining the staff in 1993. Eaton plays the landmark E.M. Skinner organ of 1925, and can be heard most weeks of the year in the church’s weekly organ recital every Wednesday at 1:10 p.m. He is also immediate past dean of the American Guild of Organists-Brooklyn Chapter.
Eaton was Lecturer in Church Music of the General Theological Seminary, from 1984-2006. In addition to his church music activities, Eaton is also, with David Hurd, one of the co-founders of Chelsea Winds recorder ensemble, and an occasional composer of both sacred and secular music. Godspell and Bernstein's Mass: Faith and Unbelief in a Secular World, convenes at 7 p.m. on Wednesdays, Feb. 12, 26, March 12 and 26, April 9 and 23. Registration is $30; one can register through the website of the Mercer School:
https://licommin.wufoo.com/forms/godspell-and-bernsteins-mass-faith-and-.... Ann & the Holy Trinity Church is at the corner of Clinton and Montague streets in Brooklyn Heights.
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Experts on Catholic Renewal Ministries Give Talk on the ‘New Evangelization’
The Brooklyn Diocesan Charismatic Renewal Office and Most Precious Blood Parish in Bath Beach co-sponsor a daylong program on the Roman Catholic Church’s New Evangelization.
Guest speakers Dr. Ralph Martin and Sister Ann Shields, who are both veteran leaders in the Roman Catholic Church’s renewal movements, will present “Explore the call and practical applications of the New Evangelization.”
The program runs from 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m. at Most Precious Blood Youth Center, 2739 Harway Ave. in Bath Beach, near Stillwell Ave. Registration at the door will be $25. Participants are asked to bring their lunch.
According to the website of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, “The New Evangelization calls each of us to deepen our faith, believe in the Gospel message and go forth to proclaim the Gospel. The focus of the New Evangelization calls all Catholics to be evangelized and then go forth to evangelize. In a special way, the New Evangelization is focused on ‘re-proposing’ the Gospel to those who have experienced a crisis of faith.” The National Catholic Reporter, in a March, 2013 article by John Allen shortly after the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, defines “New Evangelization,” meaning outreach to baptized Catholics who have become distant from the faith. Defined that way, the New Evangelization aims to reach out to alienated Catholics who in many cases have become secularized. Europe and North America are a special preoccupation, because that's where a disproportionate share of these “distant Christians” are found.”
Then-Pope Benedict XVI, during his time as Pontiff, declared the Year of Faith as Oct. 11, 2012-Nov. 24, 2013 (last Sunday after Pentecost before new liturgical year began on Dec. 1).
Dr. Martin has been a leader in renewal movements in the Catholic Church for many years. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, he earned his doctorate in Sacred Theology (S.T.D.) from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas (the “Angelicum”) in Rome.
Dr. Martin is president of Renewal Ministries, an organization devoted to Catholic renewal and evangelization (www.renewalministries.net). More than 45 years ago, Dr. Martin wrote the outlines for the first Life in the Spirit Seminar, which was designed to present the basic gospel message in an easy to understand format of seven talks, followed by small group discussions. During the Seminar, people received prayer to commit their lives to Jesus Christ and to be baptized in the Holy Spirit.
Dr. Martin also worked for the National Office of the Cursillo Movement. He became a leader in the national and international development of the charismatic renewal movement in the Catholic Church. He was the founding editor of New Covenant Magazine, as well as the founding director of the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Office, currently headquartered in Rome. He is also the host of “The Choices We Face” a widely viewed weekly Catholic television and radio program distributed throughout the world.
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Also according to the Renewal Ministries’ website, Sr. Ann Shields, S.G.L., is an internationally noted conference and retreat speaker and author of numerous books on Catholic spirituality including Deeper Conversion, To Be Like Jesus and in 2013, More of the Holy Spirit.
She currently hosts the popular daily radio program Food for the Journey. She is a member of The Servants of God’s Love, a charismatic religious community established in the Diocese of Lansing, Michigan and is a member of the Diocesan Pastoral Council.
Sr. Ann was awarded the Benemerenti Medal by Pope Benedict XVI in September of 2012 for service to the Church and is a recipient of the Aggiornamento Award given by the Catholic Library Association in recognition of outstanding contribution for the renewal of parish and community life.
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Park Slope Singers Present ‘Remembrance of the Civil War’
As part of Plymouth Church’s ongoing ministry to end slavery, the landmark congregation is hosting a concert with the Park Slope Singers to “In Remembrance of the Civil War.”
The Park Slope Singers, under the direction of Ira Spaulding, will present songs of the Civil War, including “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again,” plus selections from Vaughn Williams's “Dona Nobis Pacem” and works by William Schuman, both of which are settings of Walt Whitman's Civil War poetry. Tickets for the 3 p.m. concert are $15, $10 students/seniors, available at the door. Visit www.parkslopesingers.org to learn more.
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Grace Church’s WINTERFAIR Continues Through Renovation
Grace Church-Brooklyn Heights has made the news several times recently for its renovation and restoration project that has the sanctuary filled with scaffolding, and the rest of the building’s space at a premium. But there is good news—the WINTERFAIR, so popular in the neighborhood, will happen! WINTERFAIR, under the longtime capable leadership of Lynn Vardakis, takes place on this first Saturday in February. But to accommodate the space constraints from the construction project, there are some changes, and the Fair will be in two parts. The regular daytime Fair will be held from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 1, with “all areas represented –but perhaps not in their accustomed places!” writes Vardakis.
The Luncheon Café will go on as always, and a Kids’ Café will also be offered. Those wishing to donate goods to the fair, should note that, due to the space constraints, no computer equipment, televisions or large electronics are being accepted this year. These can be recycled instead—one place accepting them is the Lower East Side Ecology Center’s convenient Brooklyn E-Waste Warehouse, at President and Nevins Streets. Call 718-858-8777 for more information.)
The second part of WINTERFAIR will be an early evening Gala with Silent Auction on Saturday, April 5.
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Christian Cultural Center Hosts Town Hall Forum on Immigration
New York City’s First Lady Chirlane McCray will participate in a Town Hall Forum on Immigration. Co-hosting this Wednesday, Jan. 22 event are The Black Institute and Christian Cultural Center.
This interactive town hall forum focuses on immigration policies, reform efforts, and their impact on black immigration. McCray will join Reverend A.R. Bernard, The Black Institute and Christian Cultural Center in kicking off the event, which will take place at the Christian Cultural Center, 12020 Flatlands Avenue, at 6 p.m.
The Brooklyn event will also launch innovative public awareness campaign called “The G Project,” designed to highlight how current immigration laws and reform impact Black Americans across the country. The G Project aims to recognize, empower and educate these individuals about the importance of immigration reform, as well as build a stronger immigrant rights movement that is inclusive of all races and ethnicities. Audience members will have the opportunity to take the G survey to track and celebrate their immigrant past.
Black Americans are diverse in their immigrant statuses and backgrounds, and many of these individuals are important members of politics, entertainment, sports, journalism, and science, among other fields. The town hall forum will incorporate these voices into the immigration reform discussion in hopes of advancing the immigrant rights and civil rights movements. With hopes that the 113th Congress will address comprehensive immigration forum during its latest session, the need to engage and activate all individuals affected by the issue is paramount.
The town hall discussion will bring in TJ Holmes (journalist/commentator), who will moderate a panel which includes: Joy-Ann Reid (Managing Editor, MSNBC), Bishop Orlando Findlayter (CUSH/New Hope Christian Fellowship), Jose Vargas (Founder, Define Americans), and Pras (Grammy-Winning Artist).The panelists will encourage audience participation in discussing current immigration policies, a heavily-flawed system that neglects to address how the changing demographics in the United States affect immigration policies and laws.
Support for this event is offered from Churches United to Save & Heal (CUSH), New York Communities for Change (NYCC), New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) and Make the Road.
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Ervand Abrahamian, Iran Expert, Will Address Brooklyn Forum
Brooklyn for Peace wants citizens to know that Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles E. Schumer have signed on in support of S1881: The Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013, a bill which threatens to torpedo the Interim Agreement with Iran which went into effect on Monday, Jan. 20. This agreement will use diplomacy and negotiation rather than the threat of harsh sanctions to achieve the goal of an Iran free of nuclear weapons. The Senate bill, if enacted into law, puts us on a path which could lead towards war in the Middle East.
Brooklyn For Peace sponsors a free forum, titled “Give Diplomacy a Chance: Iran, the U.S. and the UN in Search of a Nuclear Deal,” with the goal of informing the community on this crucial issue.
Leading the panel is Ervand Abrahamian, a nationally recognized expert on the history and politics of modern Iran. Professor of Middle East History at the City University of New York (CUNY), Abrahamian is author of A History of Modern Iran (Cambridge University Press) and The Coup (The New Press). He was elected as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2010.
Joining him on the panel will be Carolyn Eisenberg, a professor of American Foreign Policy at Hofstra University and co-founder of Brooklyn For Peace, and Jim Wurst, a journalist covering the United Nations. The event will be held at the Commons, located at 388 Atlantic Ave., between Bond and Nevins, in downtown Brooklyn. The forum takes place at 7 p.m. on Jan. 23. Brooklyn for Peace’s website, brooklynpeace.org, also gives the opportunity and link to sign an open letter to elected officials on this issue.
According to its mission statement, “Brooklyn For Peace is committed to eliminating war and the social injustices that are its causes. Through active education on international and domestic issues, we empower our community and ourselves to be a productive force in securing a peaceful future for generations to come by building a world where peace is the first response to conflict.”
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Rabbi Raskin’s Book Presentation At Library Rescheduled for Feb. 18
Rabbi Aaron L. Raskin, spiritual leader of Congregation B’nai Avraham and a Brooklyn Heights resident, was to have given a talk on his fifth book, “Guardian of Israel: Miracle Stories of Tefillin,” at the Brooklyn Heights Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library on Tuesday, Jan. 21. While this week’s snowstorm may have pre-empted the event, the good news is that it has been rescheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 18 at 6:15 p.m.
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Milestones in Faith
Danish Seamen’s Church Marks 57 Years on Willow St.
The Danish Seamen’s Church, which serves Danes living and working in all industries around the New York region, held its inaugural service at its current home on 102 Willow Street 57 years ago this month, on Jan. 13, 1957. The building, a brownstone with an entrance that was refurbished within the past five years, was also dedicated on that date. A close look at the photo will reveal the building number and the words “Dansk Sømandskirke.” One can also see the bell displayed in the front yard at street level.
The Danish Seamen's Church in New York is a private church under The Danish Church Abroad/Danish Seamen's Church, and it is under ecclesiastical supervision of the Bishop of Copenhagen Peter Skov-Jakobsen. Church services are held in the Danish language every Sunday at 11 a.m., except for the last Sunday of the month. But the church is also a social and cultural center for Danes and those with close attachments to Denmark and Danish culture.