[Extensions of Remarks]
From the Congressional Record Online through GPO
IN HONOR OF THE 250TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE BRICK PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
HON. CAROLYN B. MALONEY
of new york
in the house of representatives
Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Mrs. CAROLYN B. MALONEY of New York. Mr. Speaker, I rise to celebrate
the 250th Anniversary of The Brick Presbyterian Church, one of the
nation's oldest and most venerable religious institutions. The Brick
Church has been in continuous operation since 1767, with the exception
of a few years during the Revolutionary War, and has a rich history of
serving the community as a spiritual home. Pastoral leaders of The
Brick Church have had a profound impact on the nation as spiritual
leaders, brilliant composers of sacred music and compassionate
advocates for the poor, the downtrodden and refugees.
The Brick Church began as an expansion of the First Presbyterian
Church at Wall Street, whose growing congregation could no longer be
accommodated. Its first building was on Beekman Street on a site now
occupied by Pace University's downtown campus. The first pastor was
Reverend John Rodgers who would close the street in front of the church
during services to eliminate noise. Dr. Rodgers also corresponded with
George Washington, was the first moderator of the General Assembly and
served as chaplain to the New York State Legislature.
During the Revolutionary War, the British commandeered the church for
use first as a hospital and later as a brig. By 1858, after surviving
two wars, three epidemics and three fires, the church followed its
congregation uptown to Fifth Avenue at 37th Street. Nearly a century
later, in response to further migration north, the church moved in 1940
to its present location at 91st Street and Park Avenue.
The church's other pastors were Gardiner Spring (1810 through 1873),
James Ormsbee Murphy (1865 through 1875), Llewellyn Bevan (1877 through
1882), Henry Van Dyke (1883 through 1900), Maltbie Davenport Babcock
(1900 through 1901), William Rogers Richards (1902 through 1910),
William Pierson Merrill (1911 through 1938), Paul Austin Wolfe (1938
through 1964), D. Reginald Thomas (1965 through 1970), James Seth
Stewart (1972 through 1974), and Herbert B. Anderson (1978 through
2001). Rev. Van Dyke became ambassador to the Netherlands under
President Woodrow Wilson and organized efforts to serve the tens of
thousands of refugees flooding the country at the onset of World War I.
The Brick Church is currently led by the remarkable Reverend Michael
L. Lindvall who was installed on October 27, 2002 as only its 13th
installed pastor. Rev. Lindvall has made education a center of his
ministry at the church, recognizing that parishioners may have less
exposure to the Bible, theology or the history and governance of the
church than they once did. Accordingly, educational programs such as
the Children's Sunday Church School, youth programs, and adult
education are critically important to The Brick Church.
Over the centuries, Brick Church has assisted in educating poor
children, supported immigrant congregations and settlement houses, and
worked to improve the neighborhood. Before the Civil War, leaders of
the congregation were outspoken abolitionists who condemned slavery and
corruption. Members of the Brick Church have support the Deacon
Ministries and Grants program that helps over 22,000 people annually.
Members also volunteer for a wide variety of community-based
organizations that tutor young people, help homebound seniors, serve
the homeless and help the formerly incarcerated make a fresh start.
A number of The Brick Church's clergy have made significant
contributions to sacred music, including Revs. Van Dyke, Babcock,
Merrill and Wolfe. In addition, Clarence Dickinson provided outstanding
musical leadership along with Helen Dickinson, who founded the School
of Sacred Music at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. Today,
Keith S. Toth, a graduate of the Oberlin and Juilliard Schools of
Music, carries on the church's fine tradition of musical excellence.
Mr. Speaker, I ask my colleagues to join me in honoring The Brick
Church for providing a spiritual home to New Yorkers for 250 years.