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Congressional Record2017/3/15Senate | House | Extensions

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E328-E329]
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. [[Page E329]] ____________________



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