Tag Archives: Religion

Lutherans And Albany Public Lecture, Discussion


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The public is invited to a public lecture and discussion entitled “Lutherans, Albany, And the Course of History” at 2 pm, Sunday, November 15th, at Wittenburg Hall, First Lutheran Church of Albany (181 Western Avenue in Albany), part of First Lutheran Church of Albany’s 360th Anniversary Celebration. Dating from 1649, First Lutheran is the oldest congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. It originated in the Dutch period and its services were originally held in Dutch. Over the centuries, the congregation has worshiped at four different sites in Albany. Its rich history parallels and interacts with that of the city and the State from the colonial period to the present. These presentations will draw on that history to illuminate important trends and developments and also make history “come alive” with stories that connect the church, its people, its city, and its state.

Four experienced historians will make presentations. There will be plenty of time for questions and comments at the end.

● John J. McEneny, Assemblyman, 104th A.D., “Religion and Government in Albany Over 300 Years”

● Peter Christoph, FLC Church Archivist, “Friendly Relations, Occasional Clashes: Christian Churches in Colonial Albany”

● Anthony Opalka, City Historian, City of Albany, “Albany’s Architectural History During First Lutheran’s 360 Years On the Move”

● Edward H. Knoblauch, Adjunct Professor, Schenectady County Community College, “Lutherans in the Atlantic World in the 17th and 18th Centuries”

Free parking is available in the Church’s two parking lots adjacent to its building.

Refreshments will be served after the presentation.

For more information, please contact the church office at 518-463-1326, or the event coordinator, Bruce W. Dearstyne, 518-456-0872, dearstyne@verizon.net

HDC Honors Thomas F. Pike With Landmarks Lion Award


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The Historic Districts Council will honor the many achievements of Rev. Dr. Thomas F. Pike with their 2009 Landmarks Lion award on October 28th, at the Players Club near his home on Gramercy Park. To learn more about the Lion ceremony, visit this site; to see one of the many things Reverend Pike is involved with currently, go to here. The following article is a preview from the upcoming issue of District Lines, the HDC’s newsletter.

Rev. Dr. Thomas F. Pike

Reverend Thomas F. Pike has helped run so many organizations devoted to preserving buildings and landscapes nationwide that when he walks around a place where he has been proactive, people stop him to say thanks. During a recent stroll through Gramercy Park, for which he currently serves as a trustee and archivist, Arlene Harrison, head of the neighborhood’s block association, came through the glossily painted black iron gates and hugged him. “We love this man, he’s very special, he’s the real, real deal,” she said. “He understands what this park means spiritually to this community.”

For four decades, Reverend Pike has served as an Episcopal rector at Manhattan churches while finding countless hours each week to volunteer as a leader at city agencies and nonprofits, including the Landmarks Preservation Commission, The New York Landmarks Conservancy, Partners for Sacred Places, Preservation League of New York State and Partnership for the Homeless. On Oct. 28, he will receive HDC’s Landmarks Lion award at the Players Club near his home on Gramercy Park.

On a balmy afternoon in the park a few weeks ago, he was asked to reflect on his influence and quietly replied, “When I look back, I just wish I’d done more.” He attributes his lifelong interest in performing good works for historic architecture partly to his childhood in progressive intellectual circles. He grew up in Hastings, New York, where his father, Frederick, managed a newspaper and was friendly with African-American scholars including City College sociologist Kenneth Clark and newspaper owner Alger Adams. In the late 1950’s, as an undergraduate at SUNY New Paltz, the future reverend at first studied painting, then switched career tracks as calls for social change swept the United States.

“The fight for civil rights was in full swing and the peace movement was in its early days,” he recalled. Soon after he received his Yale divinity degree in 1963, he was at the frontlines of these causes. “I was arrested five times: that gives you a flavor of my life,” he said. He spent overnights in jail for alleged offenses committed while protesting workplace discrimination, giving antiwar sermons and leading marches demanding emergency housing for black families left homeless by suspicious fires.

In 1971 he was hired as rector for what is now Calvary/St. George’s—the congregation owns two 1840’s churches near Gramercy Park—and until his retirement last year he conducted numerous services there daily. In the 1970’s and ‘80’s, as he patiently dealt with repairs on those structures, fellow clergy kept plaintively telling him about their own buildings’ hefty maintenance bills and how they were occasionally resorting to demolition.

“So I became more and more revved up about preserving religious buildings,” Reverend Pike said. “I began to see the relationship between preservation and social justice.” Old churches and synagogues, he added, “enable a community to tell its story honestly, tangibly, and graphically, in a way that can’t be denied. And the diversity of American religious buildings celebrates the diversity of our whole society. If we erase the buildings, we’re rewriting history.”

Serving in his numerous pro bono posts and grants-giving roles, he has persuaded other religious leaders to adapt structures for outreach projects including food kitchens, alcohol abuse treatment programs and temporary housing for the homeless. He has also advocated for the preservation of secular buildings in struggling neighborhoods, like the humble row of freed slaves’ homes in Bedford-Stuyvesant now called the Weeksville Heritage Center. “Buildings do not have to be beautiful to have powerful storytelling capacity,” the reverend said. “Preservation is not an elitist pursuit, although it’s sometimes thought of as a rich man’s sport.”

Gratitude for his organizations’ support, he added, has come from surprising sources. “I’ve been out to a Congregationalist church in Brooklyn where a young mother living across the street in an apartment building with every window broken came up to me and said, ‘Looking out every day and seeing that steeple repaired now—it gives us a sense of peace and a lot of hope.’ I’m absolutely convinced that architecture can change lives. I like to quote the philosopher Ernst Bloch, who said that architecture is an embodiment of hope. You only fix the roof of a place when you believe your community will be there for a long, long time. Every repair is a gesture of commitment to the future.”

The reverend’s retirement last year has allowed him and his wife Lys, a former director of the city’s Council on the Environment, more time to focus on their own landmark: a clapboarded 1790 farmhouse near Camden, Maine. They spend half the year there when not visiting their three children: Jean, an architect in New York; Nicholas, an assets manager in Boston; and Thomas Jr., an Army lieutenant-colonel about to be deployed on his second stint in Afghanistan.

Receiving a Lion award, Reverend Pike said, “feels comfortable, but I feel a little unworthy, too, since I know and admire so many past Lions. But I like being identified as a lion, a kind of radical preservationist. That brings together many threads of my life.”

James Tissot’s Life of Christ Watercolors Exhibit


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The exhibition James Tissot: “The Life of Christ” will include 124 watercolors selected from a set of 350 that depict detailed scenes from the New Testament, from before the birth of Jesus through the Resurrection, in a chronological narrative. On view from October 23, 2009, through January 17, 2010, it marks the first time in more than twenty years that any of the Tissot watercolors, a pivotal acquisition that entered the collection in 1900, have been on view at the Brooklyn Museum.

The exhibition has been organized by Judith F. Dolkart, Associate Curator, European Art, and will travel to venues to be announced. It will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue of the complete set of 350 images, to be published by the Museum in association with Merrell Publishers Ltd, London.

Born in France, James Tissot (1836-1902) had a successful artistic career in Paris before going to London in the 1870s, where he established himself as a renowned painter of London society, before returning to Paris in 1882. He then began work on a set of fifteen paintings depicting the costumes and manners of fashionable Parisian society women. While visiting the Church of St. Sulpice in the course of his research, he experienced a religious vision, after which he embarked on an ambitious project to illustrate the New Testament.

With the same meticulous attention to detail that he had applied to painting high society, he now created these precisely rendered watercolors. In preparation, he made expeditions to the Middle East to record the landscape, architecture, costumes, and customs of the Holy Land and its people, which he recorded in photographs, notes, and sketches, convinced that the region had remained unchanged since Jesus’s time. When he returned to his Paris studio he drew upon his research materials to execute the watercolors, concentrating on this project to the exclusion of his previous subject matter.

Unlike earlier artists, who often depicted biblical figures anachronistically, Tissot painted the many figures in costumes he believed to be historically authentic. In addition to the archaeological exactitude of many of the watercolors, the series presents other, highly dramatic and often mystical images, such as Jesus Ministered to by Angels and The Grotto of the Agony.

Tissot began the monumental task of illustrating the New Testament in 1886 and first presented selections at the Paris Salon in 1894 (before the series’ completion), where they were received with great enthusiasm. Press accounts on both sides of the Atlantic reported emotional reactions among the visitors: some women wept or kneeled before the works, crawling from picture to picture, while men removed their hats in reverence.

In May 1901 the 350 watercolors, newly mounted in gold mats and reframed, went on view for the first time on Eastern Parkway; records seem to indicate they remained on nearly continuous display until the 1930s. Since then, in part because of conservation concerns, they have only rarely been shown, and then only small portions of the series, most recently in late 1989 through early 1990.

Photo: James Tissot. Jesus Goes Up Alone onto a Mountain to Pray, 1886-94. Brooklyn Museum

Colonial Dutch Clergy Conference Announced


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The Reformed Church Center of New Brunswick Theological Seminary, New Brunswick, N.J. will co-host an event titled “The Colonial Clergy Conference: Dutch Traditions and American Realities” with the Collegiate Church of New York, the Van Raalte Institute in Holland, Michigan, the Roosevelt Study Center in Middelburg, Netherlands, and the Reformed Church in America Archives. The conference will be held September 27-28th at the Haworth Center at Hope College in Holland, Michigan and October 24th at First Reformed Church, 9 Bayard St., New Brunswick, N.J.

In Holland, Michigan, the speakers will be Dr. Leon van den Broeke, Assistant Professor in Religion, Law and Society and Director of the Center for Religion and Law at Free University in Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Dr. Willem Frijhof, Emeritus Professor of Early Modern History at Free University; Dr. Hans Krabbendam, Assistant Director of the Roosevelt Study Center in Middelburg, The Netherlands; Dr. Earl Wm.
Kennedy, Senior Research Fellow and Professor of Religion Emeritus at Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa; Dr. Firth Haring Fabend, Fellow of the New Netherland Project and Historian for The Holland Society of New York,; and Dr. John Coakley, L. Russell Feakes Memorial Chair and Professor of Church History at New Brunswick Theological Seminary.

Speakers in New Brunswick, New Jersey will include Dr. Leon van den Broeke; Dr. Joyce Goodfriend, Professor of History at the University of Denver; Dr. John Coakley; Dr. Dirk Mouw, past Albert A. Smith Fellow at New Brunswick Theological Seminary; Dr. Firth Haring Fabend, and Dr. Robert Naborn, Director of the Dutch Studies Program at the University of Pennsylvania. Also included in the day is a tour of the church’s
historic cemetery and bell tower, lunch, and an opportunity to order a book which will be based on the papers presented. First Reformed Church was founded in 1717 and the current building dates to 1765.

Further information about the event in Holland, Michigan, may be found on the Van Raalte Institute website at: http://www.hope.edu/vri/

Information about the event in New Brunswick, New Jersey, may be found on the New Brunswick Seminary website at: http://www.nbts.edu/clergyconference/

Collegiate Church Exhibit, Lectures, in New York City


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Beginning tonight, there will be a series of events, lectures, and an exhibit realting to aspects of the Collegiate Church. The events feature an exhibit about far east trade curated by Marybeth dePhilippis of New-York Historical Society, lectures on Everardus Bogardus (1607-1647) (the second minister of the Dutch Reformed Church in New Amsterdam), the role of women in 17th Century Dutch culture, the archeology of new Amsterdam, and Leisler’s Rebellion and the Collegiate Church. The West End Church and the Marble Collegiate College were both founded in 1628 by Dutch settlers.


Events At Bard Graduate Center, 38 West 86th Street, NYC:

Exhibit: (at 18 West 18th Street) “Dutch New York Between East and West: The World of Margrieta van Varick (September 18,2009 – January 3, 2010), curated by Marybeth dePhilippis of New-York Historical Society. Catalogue available.

Lecture: (September 24 at 6 p.m.) “A Dutch Mystic in the New World: Reverend Everardus Bogardus (1607-1647) and His Callings”. The second minister of the Dutch Reformed Church in New Amsterdam, Bogardus will be reprised by Prof. Willem Frijoff, Emeritus professor of history at Free University (Amsterdam) who has written the definitive biography of Dominie Bogardus, and Dr. Firth Haring Fabend, fellow of the Holland Society and author of Zion on the Hudson (about the Reformed Church after the English occupation).

Lecture: (October 1 at 6 p.m.) “Women of the Dutch Golden Age”, a talk on the role of Women in 17th Century Dutch Culture by Els Kloek, Associate Professor at Utrecht University and editor-in-chief of Dictionary of Dutch Women.

Tickets for the lectures are available ($25 general, $17 students and seniors) online at programs@bgc.bard.edu of by calling (212) 501-3011. For Collegiate Church members, call Ken Chase at (212) 799-4203.

Events at Marble Collegiate Church, 3 West 29th Street:

Lecture: (November 14 at 1:30 p.m.): “Digging New Amsterdam”, a talk by Archeologists Anne-Marie Cantwell and Diana Wall, authors of “Unearthing Gotham”. Co-Sponsored by New Amsterdam History Center and the New York Society of Archeologists. Free: call Ken Chase at (212) 799-4203 or email at kchase@westendchurch.org.

Lecture: (November 21 at 1:30): “Leisler’s Rebellion and the Collegiate Church Charter”, a talk by David Voorhees, Editor of De Halve Maen, the Holland Society journal and preeminent expert on Jacob Leisler, and Francis Sypher, Jr., translator of the Collegiate Church archives. Free: call Ken Chase at (212) 799-4203 or email kchase@westendchurch.org.

Dutch Colonial Clergy Conference Announced


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The Reformed Church Center of New Brunswick Theological Seminary, New Brunswick, N.J. will co-host an event titled The Colonial Clergy Conference: Dutch Traditions and American Realities with the Collegiate Church of New York, the Van Raalte Institute in Holland, Michigan, the Roosevelt Study Center in Middelburg, Netherlands, and the Reformed Church in America Archives. Planned as part of a larger celebration this year of Henry Hudson’s voyage for the Dutch to the Hudson River and New York, it is an international event being held September 27-28th at the Haworth Center at Hope College in Holland, Michigan and October 24th at First Reformed Church, 9 Bayard St., New Brunswick, N.J. Additional information about registration, etc. can be found on the website: http://www.nbts.edu/clergyconference/

In Holland, Michigan, the speakers will be Dr. Leon van den Broeke, Assistant Professor in Religion, Law and Society and Director of the Center for Religion and Law at Free University in Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Dr. Willem Frijhof, Emeritus Professor of Early Modern History at Free University; Dr. Hans Krabbendam, Assistant Director of the Roosevelt Study Center in Middelburg, The Netherlands; Dr. Earl Wm. Kennedy, Senior Research Fellow and Professor of Religion Emeritus at Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa; Dr. Firth Haring Fabend, Fellow of the New Netherland Project and Historian for The Holland Society of New York,; and Dr. John Coakley, L. Russell Feakes Memorial Chair and Professor of Church History at New Brunswick Theological Seminary.

Speakers in New Brunswick, New Jersey will include Dr. Leon van den Broeke; Dr. Joyce Goodfriend, Professor of History at the University of Denver; Dr. John Coakley; Dr. Dirk Mouw, past Albert A. Smith Fellow at New Brunswick Theological Seminary; Dr. Firth Haring Fabend, and Dr. Robert Naborn, Director of the Dutch Studies Program at the University of Pennsylvania. Also included in the day is a tour of the church’s historic cemetery and bell tower, lunch, and an opportunity to order a book which will be based on the papers presented. First Reformed Church was founded in 1717 and the current building dates to 1765.

NY State Historic Preservation Awards Announced


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New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Carol Ash has announced the recipients of the 2007 State Historic Preservation Awards. The Historic Preservation Awards honor the efforts and achievements of individuals, organizations and municipalities that make significant contributions to the effort of historic preservation throughout New York State.

The State Historic Preservation Awards were established in 1980 to honor excellence in the protection and rejuvenation of New York’s historic and cultural resources. The recipients were honored at a ceremony at Peebles Island, home of the State Historic Preservation Office, Bureau of Historic Sites.

Assemblyman Sam Hoyt
Public Sector Achievement Award

Assemblyman Sam Hoyt, who represents the 144th Assembly District (including Buffalo’s west side and Grand Island on the Niagara River), is honored for his outstanding contribution to advancing historic preservation and community improvement activities across the state.

Eldridge Street Synagogue
Project Achievement Award, Bonnie Dimun, Executive Director, Roberta Gratz, Founder and President Emeritus

The Eldridge Street Project is recognized for its outstanding contribution to restoring and revitalizing the Eldridge Street Synagogue, one of New York’s most prominent historic religious properties.

Universal Preservation Hall
Project Achievement Award, Mattthew Kopans, Director

The Universal Preservation Hall project in downtown Saratoga Springs is recognized for transforming a distinguished yet deteriorated historic church into a vibrant center for art, culture and community events.

Town of Roxbury
Community Achievement Award, Town Supervisor Tom Hynes, Town Historian Peg Ellsworth

The Town of Roxbury, located on the East Branch of the Delaware River, is being honored for its variety of creative approaches to integrating historic preservation into the everyday life of the community, especially in the hamlet of Roxbury.

Adirondack Architectural Heritage
Non-profit Achievement Award

This regional non-profit organization is honored for expanding and enhancing the public’s understanding, appreciation, and stewardship of the area’s historic and cultural treasures.

The State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), which is part of the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, helps communities identify, recognize, and preserve their historic resources, and incorporate them into local improvement and economic development activities. The SHPO administers several programs including the federal historic rehabilitation tax credit, state historic preservation grants, the Certified Local Government program, and the New York State and National Registers of Historic Places, which are the official lists of properties significant in the history, architecture, and archeology of the state and nation. There are more than 4,400 State and National Register listings in New York, including nearly 90,000 historic buildings, structures and sites.

The Holidays: The Bible’s Buried Secrets


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As a holiday historical treat (of sorts) I’d like to point readers to two recent posts over at Varnam, which describes itself as “a blog about history, archaeology and current affairs with focus on India.” The author recently reviewed the archeological / historical evidence for the bible following the two-hour NOVA documentary, The Bible’s Buried Secrets, which aired on PBS on Nov 18th.

It’s an interesting read for the holiday season: Part One, Part Two.

Strange Maps to Strange Ideas


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One of the blogs we follow here at the New York History Blog, is Strange Maps, a blog of some of the weirdest, wackiest, and thought provoking maps in the world. Here is are some samples of some recent posts you may not have seen, they are not all New York History related, but they do point to unique uses of mapping that NY historians can appreciate:

Federal Lands in the US
The United States government has direct ownership of almost 650 million acres of land (2.63 million square kilometers) – nearly30% of its total territory. These federal lands, which are mainly used as military bases or testing grounds, nature parks and reserves and indian reservations, are managed by different administrations, such as the Bureau of Land Management, the US Forest Service, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the US Department of Defense, the US Army Corps of Engineers, the US Bureau of Reclamation or the Tennessee Valley Authority. [New York is tied with Iowa for 2nd from last at .8%; Connecticut and Rhode Island are tied for last with just .4% - of course they don't count New York's state lands (Adirondack, Catskills, and more), so the map is not really reflective of actual government ownership.]

Where News Breaks

Researchers extracted the dateline from about 72,000 wire-service news stories from 1994 to 1998 and modified a standard map of the Lower 48 US states (above) to show the size of the states in proportion to the frequency of their appearance in those datelines. New York is the largest news provider of the country, of course nearly all originating in New York City (pop. 8.2 million; metro area 18.8 million). Compare this to Illinois, home of the the nation’s third largest city, Chicago (pop. 2.8 million; metro area 9.5 million). Especially when considering metropolitan areas, Chicago/Illinois should be half the ‘news size’ of New York City/New York, while in fact it seems to be less than one fifth. Could this underrepresentation be down to another ‘capital effect’ (i.e. New York being the ‘cultural capital’ of the US)?

Area Codes in Which Ludacris Claims to Have Hoes
“In [the song "Area Codes"] Ludacris brags about the area codes where he knows women, whom he refers to as ‘hoes’,” says Stefanie Gray, who plotted out all the area codes mentioned in this song on a map of the United States. She arrived at some interesting conclusions as to the locations of this rapper’s preferred female companionship:

Ludacris heavily favors the East Coast to the West, save for Seattle, San Francisco, Sacramento, and Las Vegas.

Ludacris travels frequently along the Boswash corridor.

There is a ‘ho belt‘ phenomenon nearly synonymous with the ‘Bible Belt’.

Ludacris’s ideal ‘ho-highway’ would be I-95.

Ludacris has hoes in the entire state of Maryland.

Ludacris has a disproportionate ho-zone in rural Nebraska. He might favor white women as much as he does black women, or perhaps, girls who farm.

A World Map of Manhattan
This map celebrates that diversity by assembling Manhattan out of the contours of many of the world’s countries. Danielle Hartman created the map based on data from the 2000 US Census. In all, 80 different countries of origin were listed in the census. The map-maker placed the country contours near the census area where most of the citizens of each country resided.

The Comancheria, Lost Homeland of a Warrior Tribe
Under the presidency of Sam Houston (1836-’38, 1841-’44) the then independent Republic of Texas almost came to a peace agreement with the tribal collective known as the Comanche. The Texas legislature rejected this deal, because it did not want to establish a definitive border with the Comanche; for by that time, white settlers were pushing into the Comancheria, the homeland of one of the most fearsome Native American peoples the Euro-Americans ever had to deal with.

Thomas Jefferson’s Plan for the division of the Northwest Territory into 10 new states.

Regionalism and Religiosity

A Map of the Internet’s Black Holes

A Diagram of the Eisenhower Interstate System

Birthplaces of Mississippi Blues Artists

Ancient Mississippi River Courses