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Faith In Brooklyn for Oct. 8

Faith In Brooklyn for Oct. 8

By Francesca Norsen-Tate, Religion Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Faith-Based Food Ministries Receive Meat Products, in Partnership with Borough Hall, Turkish Cultural Center. Custom Is Part of Muslim Eid Al-Adha Festival of Sacrifice

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams joined forces with the Turkish Cultural Center Brooklyn — a nonprofit organization based in Sheepshead Bay — and Embrace Relief — a global relief effort providing aid to the underserved and those struck by disaster — on Oct. 1 to distribute 1,500 pounds of meat to food pantries across Brooklyn.

The borough president’s donation drive, which has become an annual Brooklyn tradition, is part of the observance of Eid Al-Adha, a Muslim festival also known as the Feast of Sacrifice. According to Islamic custom, observers distribute meat as charity to commemorate Abraham’s obedience to God as he was tested to sacrifice his son. Several interfaith leaders joined Adams in underscoring the importance of serving the less fortunate in the borough.

The meat was then distributed to representatives of many faith-based food pantries around Brooklyn, including Downtown. First Presbyterian Church operates a client-choice model food pantry, open to the public every Thursday morning. Plymouth Church participates in several hunger relief ministries, including St. John’s Bread & Life and Christian Help in Park Slope (CHiPS). Representatives from those groups were present, as were representatives from Beraca Baptist Church in Canarsie, Full Gospel Assembly in Crown Heights, God’s Battalion of Prayer in East Flatbush, Los Sures Social Services in Williamsburg, Trinity Human Services Corporation in Williamsburg, True Holy Church in Ocean Hill, St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, Maranatha SDA Church in East Flatbush, Mt. Zion Church of God 7th Day in East Flatbush, Church of God of East Flatbush in Brownsville and Bed-Stuy Campaign Against Hunger in Bedford–Stuyvesant.

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Nightshul Offers Array of Classes, From Liturgy to Siblings in the Bible

The East Midwood Jewish Center is set to launch a new season of Nightshul, the New Adult Learning Program for Brooklyn’s Progressive Jewish Community.

Nightshul begins on Thursday, Oct. 15 with an introduction, then with five different three-week classes on Oct. 22 and Oct. 29.

A wide variety of scholars, men, women, rabbis, cantors and other educators will present talks about such subjects as sisters and brothers in the Bible, forgiveness, facing death, social justice issues, glimpses of Jewish history (Jewish humor from the Bible to TV comedians), the history of Warsaw and the rural liquor trade in the Russian empire. Also offered is an ongoing course titled “Introduction to Judaism: An Exploration for Curious Adults,” which is available year-round in various locations for prospective converts.

The course selections are: “Sisters & Brothers in the Bible,” to be taught by Dr. Rabbi Barat Ellman; “Turning & Letting Go: Jewish Ways of Forgiveness” (faculty: Rabbi Regina Sandler-Philips); “Ulpan Hebrew” (faculty: Moran Ben-Shaul Lantner); “Introduction to Judaism: An Exploration for Curious Adults” (Rabbi Sue Oren); and “Learn to Lead Weekday Shacharit, the Morning Service” (Cantor Sam Levine).

Nightshul faculty members include: Rabbi Matt Carl and Cantor Sam Levine, both of East Midwood Jewish Center; Rabbi Sue Oren, a Brooklyn based educator for Jewish interfaith and secular programs; Dr. Rabbi Barat Ellman, a scholar of the Hebrew Bible and adjunct professor of theology at Fordham University and Bard College; Glenn Dynner, professor of religion at Sarah Lawrence College and senior NEH fellow at the Center for Jewish History; Hershey Friedman, professor of business and author of several scholarly articles on business ethics, marketing and psychology; educator Moran Ben Shaul Lantner; Rabbi Regina Sandler-Phillips, MSW, MPH, executive director of WAYS OF PEACE; Rabbi Sara Zecharia, educator on Torah, midrash and Talmud and on women’s studies and holistic living; and Lisa Zbar, founder of the Shir Chadash-Brooklyn Jewish Community Chorus.

Each Nightshul evening begins with a wine-and-cheese social hour at 7 p.m. Classes follow from 8 to about 9:30 p.m. Occasional “after-session parties” will happen. Each month, from November through May, two to four new courses will begin. The ongoing classes of “Ulpan Hebrew” and “Introduction to Judaism” will continue through March 26, 2016.

While the East Midwood Jewish Center sponsors Nightshul, the program is for the entire Jewish community and all who are curious about the Bible, the Talmud and other Jewish sacred writings.

Fees are as follows: season pass, $175; one-month, three-week ticket, $35; and individual sessions, $15. For more information and to subscribe, visit the EMJC’s NightShul webpage at www.nightshul.org. The fee structure is modest thanks to two corporate sponsors: Astoria Bank and Sherman’s Flatbush Memorial Chapel.

The East Midwood Jewish Center is a Conservative egalitarian congregation, which welcomes everyone, regardless of their level of Jewish learning. More information is available via phone, website and email: 718-338-3800, www.emjc.org, or info@emjc.org.

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Episcopal Parish Breaks Ground For New ‘Brooklyn Manor’ Worship and Residential Complex

From the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island/Episcopal Journal

Bishop Lawrence Provenzano joined clergy and parishioners of St. Stephen and St. Martin Episcopal Church to break ground last week on a real estate development that more than one person called a “resurrection” story for the parish in the Archdeaconry of Brooklyn.

The $1.3 million project is called Brooklyn Manor. The complex will include a 38-unit apartment building and a new 300-seat church on the 17,500-square-foot site in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Brooklyn Manor is scheduled to open in 2017.

“We have been talking about these kinds of partnerships for years and this is the first one in Brooklyn. There is absolutely new life here. It’s one more expression of the life and growth in the diocese,” Provenzano said in an interview after the groundbreaking ceremony.

Referring to the dilapidated, 146-year-old church that was demolished to make way for the project, rector the Rev. Audley Donaldson said at the groundbreaking, “there was a lot of sentiment; people cried. But we are looking at this as a resurrection experience.”

The congregation has “waited a long time for this. It’s going to be a great future for us, to go on and do God’s work. We’ve come through a lot and this truly is a blessing,” said Claudine Murphy, St. Stephen and St. Martin’s assistant treasurer and a parishioner for 44 years.

It’s not the first time ground has been broken on Jefferson Avenue.

When Donaldson, a native of Jamaica, arrived in 2007, “the church had completed half a foundation for a new church, with no money in the bank.”

The congregation was demoralized. Donaldson’s predecessor had been dismissed and the existing church building was unsafe.

“The roof was shot, the church itself was leaning, held up by four steel beams – nothing could be done with it. There was so much disrepair, we’re talking millions of dollars to fix it,” Donaldson said in an interview.

“My priority was to rebuild the congregation. We needed to build the Body of Christ first before building a church,” said Donaldson, who started working three-quarters of the time at St. Stephen and St. Martin since the congregation couldn’t afford a full-time priest. Gradually, Sunday attendance increased from a maximum of 60 to about 110, with 300 people filling the church on Easter Sundays.

Thanks to Notias Construction Inc. of Flushing, N.Y., which is interested in partnering with faith-based communities, the parish was able to meet its goal. The parish sold part of its lot for development at a price of $1.6 million and Notias agreed to build housing and the new church. Moreover, the architect Shaneekua Henry, R.A., is a partner in the African-American-owned firm SLM Architecture P.C.

Donaldson told the Episcopal Journal that said he sees some symbolism in the choice, given that the Episcopal Church’s long history in America includes involvement with slavery and slave owners.

Editor’s Note: Often, congregations and faith-based associations contribute news stories of interest to the Eagle’s Faith in Brooklyn column. The Episcopal Diocese of Long Island contributed this story to the Brooklyn Eagle. It originally appeared in The Episcopal Journal, with Solange De Santis’ byline. The full article is available via www.episcopaljournal.org.

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Educational Webinar Examines Global Refugee Crisis

The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (the formal name of the Episcopal Church) will present a 90-minute webinar on Oct. 15 focusing on the global refugee crisis, U.S. resettlement and ways that Episcopalians can be involved in this ministry of welcome.

The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s Episcopal Migration Ministries and Episcopal Public Policy Network is presenting the live webinar at 8 p.m. EST that Thursday.

For more than 75 years, the Episcopal Church has welcomed refugees to the U.S., helping them find safety, security and new lives as American citizens. Now, with at least 60 million people displaced from their homes and lives, the global community is facing the largest refugee crisis since the end of World War II.

“We are all witnesses to this massive human suffering,” noted Samuel McDonald, deputy chief operating officer and director of mission. “As Episcopalians in the United States, we are called ever more deeply into responding to this tragedy by engaging the life-saving ministry of refugee resettlement.”

Photos, videos and stories of Syrian refugees fleeing war and seeking asylum in Europe have all dominated the news media lately. But the violence in Syria is just one of the ongoing conflicts underlying one the largest migrations in human history. Decades of war and violence in places like Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Myanmar have forced citizens to flee and prevented their ability to return home.

“Episcopalians from across the church have been reaching out to us on a daily basis, asking how they can be involved in mission and advocacy that supports refugees,” said Deborah Stein, Episcopal migration ministries director. “We hope that this webinar will inspire individuals, congregations and dioceses to engage this life-saving work in new ways.”

Pre-registration is required. Register for the webinar via https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4571142996258829569.

The webinar will be available on-demand following the event.

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World at Large

United Church of Christ Re-Establishes Formal Relationship with Boy Scouts

The United Church of Christ and the Boy Scouts of America on Monday re-established a formal relationship with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding regarding local UCC congregations chartering scout troops.

Michael B. Surbaugh, BSA chief scout executive, and the Rev. John C. Dorhauer, UCC general minister and president, signed the Memorandum of Understanding on Oct. 5. The document affirms the recently adopted BSA resolution that removed the restriction on gay adult leaders and employees and formally states that UCC congregations chartering BSA units can conduct scouting programs according to their own values of inclusion and extravagant welcome for all.

“As a former Boy Scout growing up, and one committed to the open and affirming ministry of the United Church of Christ, it brought me a great deal of pride and satisfaction to be able to sign my name to that memorandum of understanding,” Dorhauer said. “I am grateful to Mike Schuenemeyer for the hard work that he did over the last few years to bring this historic document to us, to help the Boy Scouts understand how important this is.”

The memorandum follows several months of renewed efforts by a UCC working group, headed by Schuenemeyer — UCC executive for health and wholeness advocacy — and the Boy Scouts of America to re-establish a partnership. The negotiations began in earnest following the BSA policy change this past July.

In the policy change, Robert M. Gates, national president of the BSA, said, “Everyone associated with scouting agrees to follow national policies and comply with BSA’s behavioral standards; no youth may be denied membership to our organization on the basis of sexual orientation and no council can deny a charter to a unit that is following the beliefs of its religious chartering organization.”

The UCC had pulled back from any formal ties and had withdrawn its letter of endorsement in 2001 because of BSA policies of excluding boys and men based on sexual orientation. The BSA changed its policy regarding youth in 2013.

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