Tag Archives: West-Park Presbyterian Church

Purple flowers – West-Park Presbyterian Church 1


13 June 2015
West-Park Presbyterian Church
Manhattan, New York


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Freedom Summer: The Next Generation

A commemoration of Andrew Goodman, James Earl Chaney, and Michael Schwerner to inspire the continuing struggle for an inclusive society featuring the Rev. Dr. James Forbes

June 9, 2014
West Park Presbyterian Church
The Center at West Park
165 West 86th Street
No advance ticketing. Doors open at 6:30 pm; program begins at 7:00 pm. Admission is free.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Summer and the murders of Goodman, Chaney, and Schwerner as they canvassed the south in an effort to register African-Americans to vote. Much has changed in the 50 years since that summer, but the daily headlines remind us how far we still have to go in creating a more just and inclusive world for all.

What can we learn from the events of the Freedom Summer to help us in our current struggles for equality? What kind of community existed in the Upper West Side in 1964 to encourage a 20-year-old Andrew Goodman to leave his home to work for civil rights? How can we create and support communities that encourage young people to fight for social justice today?

One June 9, The Center at West Park and West Park Presbyterian Church, in cooperation with the Andrew Goodman Foundation, will present: Freedom Summer: The Next Generation, a commemoration and discussion where we can begin to answer these questions.

The Rev. Dr. James Forbes, Sr. Pastor at Riverside Church, President of the Healing of the Nations Foundation, will be delivering the keynote address. Responding to the keynote and offering their own reflections will be:

  • Linda Sansour, Executive Director of the Arab American Association of New York
  • Simran Jeet Singh, Senior Religion Fellow for the Sikh Coalition and the Executive Director for the Sikh Spirit Foundation
  • Stosh Cotler, Chief Executive Officer of Bend the Arc, A Jewish Partnership for Justice

The evening will feature freedom songs from the civil rights era, curated by recording artist and Upper West Sider, Jeremy Mage. Andrew’s brother David is expected to be present, as well as City Council Member Helen Rosenthal and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.

Venue: West Park Presbyterian Church is located at 165 West 86th Street, on the northeast corner of Amsterdam Avenue. Enter through Amsterdam Avenue doors. For accessible entrance, use doors on W. 86th Street.

No advance ticketing. Doors open at 6:30 pm; program begins at 7:00 pm. Admission is free.


The Andrew Goodman Foundation was founded in honor of Andrew Goodman. Andy was a 20-year old college student who joined Freedom Summer in 1964 to register African-Americans to vote. On his first day in Mississippi, June 21, 1964, Andy, along with James Chaney and Michael Schwerner, was murdered by the Ku Klux Klan. Andy and his contemporaries were young Americans who joined a movement to take action against injustice. Andy’s actions continue to inspire change agents globally.

Today, The Andrew Goodman Foundation is a key ally to young change agents: offering opportunities for greater civic impact, sponsoring the catalytic stories of the past, and identifying leaders and movements open to new ideas and action. The Foundation’s mission is to empower the next generation to initiate and sustain creative and effective social action; we enable leaders and their communities to flourish by operating and investing in programs that advance civic engagement and intergenerational coalitions.

West Park Presbyterian Church is a diverse, inclusive faith community with an extensive history of cutting edge, social justice advocacy.

The Center at West Park is an independent, nonprofit organization, housed at West-Park Church and dedicated to the work of personal and social transformation through culture and the arts, social activism, intergenerational education, and the cultivation of wonder and the human spirit. For more information, visit .

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Neighbor and Neighborhood: A dialogue of the Sikh Coalition and the PC(USA)

This one is particularly for folks in the New York City area. But there is contact information if others want to learn more.

World Interfaith Harmony Week

World Interfaith Harmony Week is observed during the first week of February.

The Sikh Coalition, Presbyterian Men in the Presbytery of New York City, the Church of the Covenant, Rutgers Presbyterian Church, West-Park Presbyterian Church, the Committee on Witness to Society and the World in the Presbytery of New York City, and the Presbyterian Mission Agency’s Office of Interfaith Relations and Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations have come together in a unique partnership to offer three dialogue events over the weekend of February 1 and 2.

Simran Jeet Singh, Senior Religion Fellow of the Sikh Coalition, and Christine Hong, Associate for Theology: Interfaith Relations of the Theology, Worship and Education Ministry of the Presbyterian Mission Agency will lead the dialogues. Details on the three events are:

Saturday, February 1, 2014
10:00 – 11:30 AM

Fellowship Hall
Church of the Covenant
310 E. 42nd St., New York, NY
(between First and Second Avenues)
For more information, contact Greg Reid of Presbyterian Men.

Saturday, February 1, 2014
1:00 – 3:00 PM

Fellowship Hall
Rutgers Presbyterian Church
236 W. 73rd St., New York, NY
(take the 1, 2, or 3 train to 72nd St.)
For more information, contact Alice Hudson at Rutgers Presbyterian Church.

Sunday, February 2, 2014
Worship 11:00 AM
Dialogue 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM

West-Park Presbyterian Church
165 W. 86th St., New York, NY
(corner of Amsterdam Avenue at 86th Street)
For more information, contact Bob Brashear at West-Park Presbyterian Church.

The dialogue will explore questions such as: What do Presbyterian Christians and Sikhs share in common? What makes our traditions unique? Does interfaith dialogue strengthen or weaken faith? How do we love neighbors of different religions in difficult times? Join us for a fishbowl style interfaith dialogue between the Sikh Coalition and the Office of Interfaith Relations of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). In this interactive learning experience you will learn about Sikhism, Presbyterians and interfaith relations, see interfaith dialogue in action, and take steps towards building relationships of neighborliness and solidarity with the Sikh American community. February 1 marks the beginning of World Interfaith Harmony Week, the first week in February each year, as designated by the United Nations General Assembly.

Would you like to host a similar event for your church or group? Contact Christine Hong at the Office of Interfaith Relations.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Current Events, New York, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations

First came baseball

baseball_2I am not sure I would have asked the question. Too many people have experienced abuse, abandonment, failure to love, and more from their fathers. Too many fathers have died too young. Too many wounds remain unhealed.

“What is your favorite memory of your father or your father figure?” Bob Brashear, pastor of West-Park Presbyterian Church, asked near the end of his sermon today.

My first thoughts went to those who had negative experiences of their fathers. I felt my heartstrings tightened as I considered the profound pain the simple question could touch.

Images of my father, gone too long, filled my head and heart. He was not perfect. None of us are. But he was a good, good man who loved me and my brother and sister well.

Memories came at me as thick as gnats on a hot, sultry night. When it came my turn to speak, I went with my first memories:

“Baseball. Playing catch in the back yard. Going to games. Baseball. In Pittsburgh.” I remembered, although I did not share, that as I child, when I would have to go to bed before a Pirates game finished, I would wake up in the morning to find a piece of paper with the score written in my father’s handwriting.

Memories. Blessed memories. As I rejoice in mine, my heart goes out to those who know pain.

Happy Father’s Day to fathers, stepfathers, grandfathers, and all, male and female alike, who have filled the role of fathers.

See you along the Trail.

Dodgers 3
Pirates 6


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I confess that I do not like to clean. I am not sure that makes me unique in any great way. I suspect an overwhelming number of people share that view. I may be part of the crowd, but I do want it known. I also want it known that I do not expect anyone to clean up after me. I never – well at least very, very rarely – complain when others do not clean. And I have instructed people not to clean up after me.

In a somewhat paradoxical act, I, one of the elite non-cleaners in the world, volunteered to help clean the office at West-Park Presbyterian Church last Saturday. It proved great fun with a wonderful group of co-cleaners.

photo (14) (1024x965)At one point we take a break to view some art that Angelo has donated to the church. Bright, vivid colors. Mexican influence. Indigenous influence. Intriguing mixture of Roman Catholic, indigenous, and abstract imagery. Good stuff.

Tonight at a meeting of the Committee on Witness to Society and the World of the Presbytery of New York City, my friend Bob, pastor at West-Park, tells me that the church has hung one of Angelo’s pieces depicting scenes from the life of Jesus in the sanctuary. I look forward to seeing it.

Bob also tells me that Angelo paints angelitos that he gives to friends and neighbors and even strangers. And then Bob gives me one. A companion, a blessing for the journey for which I am grateful.

See you along the Trail.

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On the steps, in the streets, with the people

Ministry comes in a variety of forms.
Followers of Jesus do not all look alike nor do we all do identical work.
Pillars of the Church come in many different shapes.

On December 12, 2012, Cynthia Bolbach died. A former moderator of our General Assembly, Cindy was well-known and loved by many across the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

Teddy MapesOn December 17, 2012, Teddy Mapes died. The sexton at West-Park Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, Teddy was known and well-loved by the West-Park community and by many in the neighborhood of Amsterdam and W. 86th Street.

A gentle bear of a man with a heart overflowing with compassion, Teddy came to West-Park a little over a year ago as the congregation connected with the Occupy movement. He quickly fit into the community. He took part in Bible study and worship and became a member.

Teddy cared for the physical building of the church. More importantly, he cared for the spiritual building – the community – the Body of Christ. He helped negotiate the creative chaos that the Spirit so often stirs at West-Park. Teddy became one of the public faces of the church.

I had only met Teddy a couple of times – but in those brief encounters, I could tell the significant role he played in the community. So today, I walked to West-Park to talk to my friend Bob Brashear, pastor of the church, about Teddy. Teddy’s biggest contribution, his most profound ministry, Bob noted took place “on the steps, in the streets, with the people.”

On the steps. In the streets. With the people. What a ministry, what a legacy.

Teddy’s death has ripped a hole in the West-Park Presbyterian Church community. I cannot imagine how painful the tear is – nor how challenging their ride through the ragged reality of grief will be – nor how long the rebuilding process will take.

But this I know: God who loved Teddy Mapes in this life continues to love Teddy Mapes and has welcomed him home. I give thanks for Teddy’s life and love and witness and faith.

And this I know: it will take time, it will be challenging, there will be tears, there will be fits and starts – but somehow, some way, some day, “every little thing gonna be all right” for the people of West-Park Presbyterian Church. Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.

See you along the Trail.

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Why I like New York 19: Halloween

Confession #1. I do not like Halloween. I did as a child – especially the candy part. I took great joy in the delight that Sean and Eric experienced in their costumes through the years. But as a holiday for me to celebrate as an adult, it does not work.

Confession #2. On my long walk home today, I noticed all sorts of people of all ages wearing all sorts of costumes going trick-or-treating along Amsterdam Avenue. As my friend J.C. Austin points out, it can sometimes prove difficult to distinguish between people wearing costumes and colorful New Yorkers. But clearly some of the people wore costumes. It proved great fun to watch parents and children and merchants take part. At W. 86th Street and Amsterdam West-Park Presbyterian Church, I came across my friend Bob Brasher – pastor of the church – handing out treats to all sorts of costumed children. Perhaps the city’s vulnerability after Hurricane Sandy played a part, but it hooked me.

Confession #3. I took the photo on the hall of my apartment building, not on Amsterdam. Clearly someone here appreciates the day more than I.

See you along the Trail.

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A long walk

Today I made my first journey to the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations since the arrival of Hurricane Sandy. The Church Center did not open, but we had heard that our office had sustained damage. I wanted to see.

Given that the subway remained closed and acknowledging my aversion to buses (Sam and Dave are Soul Men – I am a train guy), I took a ride in one of the cars licensed by the New York Taxi and Limousine Commission. I negotiated a price – a more than fair price – before entering the car.

The ride – from W. 123rd and Amsterdam to E. 44th and First Avenue took almost two hours. Two long, slow hours. I doubled the price the driver asked. He continued to thank me after I had left the car.

I arrived at the building and one of the management staff let me enter. I went to our office to discover that one of our windows had blown in. It knocked some equipment off the ledge and blew some paper around the office. I made some phone calls, took some pictures, and prepared to leave.

When I departed from the Shire on the Hudson, I wore my tennis shoes in case I had to walk. Faced with another interminable car ride, I decided that walking made sense – walking the whole way home – from E. 44th Street and First Avenue to La Salle and Broadway on the Upper West Side. It totaled about 15,000 steps on my pedometer. Sean told me that it showed as 5.4 miles on the map.

I broke up the walk nicely. I made my way crosstown to Sean’s apartment at W. 52nd between Broadway and 8th Avenue. After a brief stop, Sean came with me. Together we made our way north. We paused to see the crane that hangs over W. 57th Street like a modern-day Sword of Damocles. At W. 72nd we chose to go up Amsterdam – a wise choice. We ate a late lunch at the Amsterdam Ale House. Lunch completed, Sean turned back south and I continued north.

As I made my way, I noticed that many children were trick-or-treating in the businesses along the street. At W. 86th Street and Amsterdam by West-Park Presbyterian Church, I came across my friend Bob Brashear – pastor of the church. We talked a while and then he returned to his task of responding to the trick-or-treaters and I resumed my walk.

About 6:00, I entered the door of the Shire on the Hudson – tired, refreshed, and filled with a spirit of accomplishment. A long walk completed.

See you along the Trail.


Filed under Exercise, Family, Food, New York, Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations

The Second Meeting – advance screening

Check out this movie that my friends at the Center at West Park will screen.

The Center at West Park


NEW YORK, NY (September 24, 2012)– The advanced screening of a new documentary by Optimistic Film, The Second Meeting, will debut in New York City on Saturday, October 13, 2012, at West Park Presbyterian Church. Immediately following, there will be a panel discussion featuring the subjects of the film, U.S. Air Force pilot Lt. Colonel Dale Zelko and Yugoslav missile officer Colonel Zoltan Dani.

The Second Meeting follows Lt. Col Zelko’s journey back to Serbia to meet Col. Dani, 12 years after the first meeting of the pilot and missile officer who commanded the Yugoslav missile battery that shot down Zelko’s F117A Stealth fighter in 1999. “I had the remarkable opportunity to have a second chance at experiencing Serbia and her people and I will forever be deeply grateful, enriched, and blessed by it,” said Lt. Col Zelko of the experience.

The advanced screening will be the first showing…

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A Pirates fan’s perspective

I visited my friend Bob Brashear, pastor of West-Park Presbyterian Church, today.

We share Pittsburgh roots. We bleed black and gold.

We have bled a lot for our Pirates the past twenty years.

This year appeared that it might bring a different result. Early in the year, they found themselves struggling for the division lead. And then they stayed in the wild card race. Late August and September brought a collapse. Now they stand at 77-82, destined for yet another losing season.

Bob told me that he went out to Shea Stadium last week a chance remained that they might break .500. But it did not happen.

Still … when was the last time that Pirate fans could conceive of going to a game late in September with a chance at a winning season. Our time will come.

See you along the Trail.

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