Rev. Bridget made history on December 9, 2018. She was the first Woman of Color ordained in the history of the new Reformed Association of the United Church of Christ. With the intention of filling the sanctuary with friends, family and parishioners, the ordination took place during our regular worship services. Indeed the church was full - service was lively with song, poetry, and dance - the celebration left many with tearful eyes. Check out some captured moments from that day. Rev. Anthony thanks everyone for all the love and support.
Photos by: B R U C E C A I N E S P H O T O G R A P H Y, 212-729-3562
On Sunday, November 18th, Fort Washington Church participated in the annual interfaith Thanksgiving service and dinner of the Washington Heights Community. At 3pm members from various houses of worship attended the joint service at Hebrew Tabernacle led by Rabbi Jeffrey Gale. Fort Washington hosted the interfaith community dinner that followed. We served over 300 members of different faith groups and members of the community. We had Christians, Jews and Muslims all fellowshipping together. We had a diverse community of elders, youth and families who came out for great food, music and conversation. Families with children were able to eat in the gym and then allow their kids to exercise some of their energy.
For Washington had a cohesive team of organizers who signed up volunteers to cook, serve, and donate food. Thanks to Connie Acquaah and her team, we collected all the food items needed to serve our community. Connie’s team prepared her much loved stuffing and Rabbi Gale’s favorite mashed potatoes. But, oh, the turkey! You have never tasted turkey like this! Sabas Whittaker with Elder Beverley Sheares and Karen Sheares presented a menu of different flavors that melted your taste buds. We had smoked barbeque turkey, ginger orange turkey, garlic lemon clove turkey, honey drizzled garlic turkey, spicy curry turkey and traditional turkey. The United Palace donated rotisserie chicken with yellow rice and peas from Malecon Restaurant. In addition, the participating houses of worship donated traditional and cultural foods, home made pies, cakes and dessert, and drinks.
We served in three locations this year, the Atrium, Fellowship Hall and the Gym for families with children. This made for a cozy but spacious gathering. Annette Padilla and Dinean Davis organized the volunteers from United Health Care, St. Elizabeth Church, Altagracia Faith, and our local Cub Scouts, Pack. Members from various youth groups came out to serve and be a part of the festivities.
By the end of the night, we had lots of food left, so volunteers took to the streets to give out plates of food. We continued to extend beyond our doors by contributing to the daily efforts of Holy Rood Church, which feeds the hungry in the area. Not only was this an opportunity to give back during a season where people are reminded to give thanks, but it was a chance to see that humanity and love still exist and love is on the move in Washington Heights.
Let us remember that there is no one season of giving--this is what God requires always.
More than 100 migrants who were sleeping on the Paso Del Norte Bridge waiting to enter the United States have been taken to a Juárez immigrant shelter, officials said.
The migrants were moved for safety and health reasons ahead of the arrival of freezing overnight temperatures in the region, Juárez Mayor Armando Cabada said in a statement.
Small groups of migrants that have arrived in Juárez and are not part of the Central American migrant caravans traveling through Mexico, possibly heading toward Tijuana, Cabada said.
For two weeks, asylum-seeking migrants, mostly from Central America and Cuba, had been sleeping on the Mexican side of the international bridge connecting Downtown El Paso and Juárez.
See Full Article: Migrant group gathers at Paso Del Norte international bridge.
Tonight is the night! The Center for Community Engagement & Social Justice is grateful that you plan to join us for the official launch of our newest initiative! We will be discussing the Caribbean's practices of spirituality, ecology, and community as forms of sovereignty and resistance in the context of U.S. imperialism. A part of tonight's success will be dependent on the community's questions and concerns that are in reference to our topic of discussion- please come with questions!
Theologizing the Caribbean's Decolonization
Tonight, Friday, November 16, 2018
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Union Theological Seminary - 3041 Broadway (121st and Broadway)
New York, NY 10027
Street parking available on 120th St., 122nd St., and Claremont Ave.
FWCC members, friend and our sister churches participated in Faith, Public & Private: A Spiritual and Social Justice Retreat on Friday and Saturday. We opened up with a time of food and fellowship and watched the movie, A Question of Faith, a movie about three families struck by tragedy, and how destiny forces them on a converging path to discover God's love, grace and mercy as the challenges of their fate could also resurrect their beliefs.
Saturday morning began with tai-chi and breakfast. Then Minister Bridget Kelso Anthony led us in a spirit filled devotional before beginning the series of workshops. Retreat participants attended workshops and activities delving into our faith and explored subjects on: "Raising Christian Children," with Mia McClain, "My Christian Identity," an activity led by Luisa Padilla-Korber, "Busy Parents in Christ," led by Rev. Kimberleigh Jordan, “Organizing Christian Leaders,” presented by Alfred Gill, and "Lawmaker Accountability,” presented by Johanna Garcia. Our keynote on Saturday, Reverend Vaughn led "How Do I Pray. God Talk 2.0”. There were no dry eyes in the room.
Other activities included: a spirited afternoon devotional before lunch with Elder Beverly Shears. “Prayers from The People,” which used performance and poetry to share various ways we can use prayer in our daily lives. In addition, “Finding God in the Garden,” gave people an opportunity to explore God’s presence in nature. Participants engaged in visual prayer, song and art in the Garden, led by Alexis Agliano Sanborn, Mark Williams and Dinean Davis. The retreat included live performances, art, music, a “Labyrinth Walk” and one-on-one private time with Reverend Whittaker. As always, we provided Childcare where families were able to have a time of spiritual growth and fellowship together. Rev. Whittaker led a spirited discussion at dinner where participants shared warm feelings about FWCC.
We closed out with Music for Our Souls with Porfirio Figueroa who presented a cellist playing Bach concerto before being led through the garden where Rev. Whittaker blessed every attendee with a hand washing as we exited the garden. We prayed, laughed, cried, sang, worshipped and broke bread together. This event not only enriched our spiritual growth, but brought us closer together as a family, the FWCC family.
We have been very busy this summer. Rev. Damaris D. Whittaker has led two mission trips, the first with 5 youth from FWCC and the last with Middle Collegiate Church. Edna Benitez has been leading the efforts at Middle Church. We led a group of volunteers from Pax Christi in Arkansas and introduced them to our partners on the ground. During our trip we repaired three roofs of the homes of elderly women over 70 years old, who did not qualify for FEMA aid.
Fort Washington Collegiate Church Supports Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands
The Collective Action for Puerto Rico, a faith-based coalition. Join us for a Weekend of Action/Faith as we continue our solidarity work with the people of Puerto Rico, and all people impacted by ecological devastation.Read More
Fort Washington Collegiate Church Responds to Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands
The Collegiate Church of New York made an initial donation of $10,000 to help the people of Puerto Rico with water filtration. As an ongoing effort, the Collegiate Church will match each dollar you give -- up to an additional $15,000.Read More
Register for Big and Little Skills Academy (BALSA) from July 5-27th at Fort Washington Collegiate Church Register now for $375!
Fort Washington Collegiate Church is located in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan at 729 W 181 Street, New York NY, 10033. This site has newly built basketball court, state of the art equipment and classrooms, and plenty of room for participants to have loads of fun.
Programming for our 3-week+ camp this year will include Basketball and other sports, Yoga, Nutrition, Public Speaking workshops, S.T.E.M. and Financial Literacy workshops, Education Enhancement games, Outdoor Play, and Read Aloud with Guest Appearances. We will also be going on a trip to the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Free (limited) tickets to the New York Liberty games will be available for families throughout the summer time!
Spread the word about our camp and get a discount! Any questions email the Director, Jamael Lynch directly at email@example.com.
We asked the ministry staff to share their most memorable Easter recollections! Here's what they said about special Easters-past:
I was five years old in 1965—the middle of the “Mad Men” era. Easter was still a “formal” family affair—women wore hats and gloves and men wore suits and ties, often with a fedora. I can still see (in my “minds eye”) my parents looking very young (and thin!), my sister in her white patent leather shoes, and my brother and I trying to get comfortable with our “clip-on ties.” The day centered on church, a big meal with extended family members, the obligatory viewing of my grandfather’s most recent 8mm film of recent travels, and a sugar induced “coma” from loads of Hershey’s chocolates, jellybeans, pies, and cakes. But this Easter was especially memorable because my siblings and I each received a “duckling” as a gift from our grandparents. I named mine, “Charlie.” And the great thing about this (at least for my parents!) was that the ducks lived on my grandparents’ property for a number of years, so we had these great pets to visit without any of the responsibility for caring for them. (It’s also the reason why duck is not on the Easter menu of my family!)
- Rev. Dr. Scott Kenefake, Interim Senior Minister
Every year when we were little, my mother would find an Easter brunch or celebration for us to go to. We would get new outfits: clothes, shoes, etc. (One year I got a new sea foam green trench coat!) Cousins that I hadn't seen all year would join us and we would storm the hotel or brunch place with our fabulous South Side of Chicago selves. I don't remember eating lots of candy, but I do remember Easter being like a glamorous family reunion. I’m grateful that my mother is here now in New York City with me. Together, we are continuing the tradition.
- Pastor Bridget Kelso Anthony
When I was Director of Worship at Hollywood Presbyterian Church in 2010 for Easter Sunday we were going to have two identical Worship Services. We completed the Good Friday Service, in which we stripped the front of the black-draped sanctuary of all furnishings and carried the Christ Candle out of the church leaving the worshippers in darkness while the chimes rang 33 times, one for each year that Jesus lived on the earth. Immediately I started making preparations for Resurrection Sunday. We were to have two identical services with pipe organ, worship band, handbell choirs, adult and children choirs and a special dance offering. One of the members of Actor's Coop, Andrea Kim Walker, had choreographed a beautiful dance piece for six children to perform to an a cappella CD of "Were Your There." The children had worked very hard to bring excellence to the performance and in the first service, in front of about 1100 worshipers, from the sound booth the music began. All was beautiful. The well rehearsed dancers were in perfect unison as they stretched their limbs in full extension and even lifted the body of Christ as they laid him in the tomb. In the congregation there was great anticipation for the climactic verse: "Were you there when he rose up from the grave?" And that's when it happened. Sitting in the front row I could hear that the CD had a glitch. The recording ground to a halt just before the first line of the final verse. I looked at my dear friend who accompanied the Carol Choir and said, "I know what I have to do" and stood up in my pew as I belted out the familiar verse to the best of my ability in front of 1100 people (without a microphone). Soon Kimmie the choreographer started belting out a harmony (she had an excellent voice) while the well-rehearsed children continued the dance, not missing a beat. In the second service the booth had resolved the CD problem but the pastor said in his message, "I wish you all could have been here for the first service -- Eric saved Easter." I certainly knew that I had done the right thing that Easter Sunday!
- Eric Alderfer, Director of Children's Ministry
When I was little, my Mom and Dad and two brothers and I would spend Easter Sunday afternoon at my Grandfather’s house where all the extended family would gather for a steadfastly Lutheran over-cooked Easter ham. My Grandpa had a big back yard where we would hunt for eggs with our cousins. Then if the weather was right, there was a field not far from there where we could fly kites. But what stands out the most about his old suburban house where my dad and aunts and uncles grew up was the particularly exciting basement. There he had old toys that we didn’t have at our house, like a hot wheels track and an Apple II computer. So after dinner we would escape downstairs away from the boring adult conversation to try and build the most elaborate race tracks, and we’d try our hand playing pong and learning how to program BASIC.
- Chris Whittaker, Director of Music
The Women's March
SATURDAY, JANUARY 21st
UCD (Uptown Community Dems) will form part of the Northern Manhattan contingency who will march in unity at the Women's March on NYC. All are invited to join us.
Below are details of meet up:
* 10:15 am UCD Members and friends will meet at the #1 train downtown platform of 168th St. subway station.
* 10:30 am our UCD group will travel together to join all other participating Northern Manhattan groups at 145th Street Subway on downtown # 1 platform.
* 11:00 am Together the Northern Manhattan contingency will ride the subway to travel to One Dag Hammarskjold Plaza at United Nations and then march with our fellow New Yorkers to Trump Tower. (We are scheduled to march at 11:50.)
Although not mandatory, if you plan to join UCD, it is recommended that you RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. You will be provided with a group leader's name and contact cell phone number.
Reverend Rashad Raymond Moore
Rev. Moore currently serves as Assistant Minister at The Abyssinian Baptist Church in the City of New York, under the leadership of Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts III. Reverend Moore’s responsibilities include providing creative leadership and support to the church’s ministries.
An alumnus of Morehouse College and Union Theological Seminary, Rev. Moore earned a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy with a minor in Religion from Morehouse in 2012.
While attending Morehouse, he served as President of the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel Assistants for two consecutive years. Demonstrating potential for ministry and scholarship, he was named the Martin Luther King Jr. Scholar during his senior year.
Moore earned a Master of Divinity with a concentration in Christian Social Ethics from Union Theological Seminary where he was a George Andover Taylor Scholar. A passionate preacher, teacher, and scholar, much of his research interests center on the history and philosophy of African-American Education, as well as concepts pertaining to joy, becoming, and imagination. He is a proud member of the Academy of Young Preachers and Phi Sigma Tau Philosophical Honors Society.
Driven by a deep love for the church, academy, and community, Rev. Moore’s life’s work is a reflection of I John 3:2: “Beloved, now are we the children of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be...”
Reverend Moore is presently pursuing a Ph.D. in Philosophy and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University.
As the boys and girls are preparing to present a Christmas pageant in the 11:00 service on December 18th, and as they are hearing the familiar stories again in Godly Play®, they are remembering that this is the beginning of a brand new church year. With the start of another church year come memories of the “good old days” — of Christmases past.
This year we are revisiting a favorite counting song that makes the singer remember many Bible stories at the same time — CHILDREN, GO WHERE I SEND THEE. It’s fun to do a YouTube search of this song and hear the many versions that are out there — Peter, Paul & Mary, Johnny Cash, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Kenny Rogers — and the list goes on.
There are many versions in existence but we have decided to do this version:
Children, go where I send thee,
How shall I send thee?
I’m gonna send thee ten by ten!
"TEN for the 10 Commandments"
"NINE for the 9 who saw the sign"
During Advent we remember the many prophets who foretold the Birth of Jesus. (Some versions say “NINE for the 9 all dressed so fine” and that could represent being clothed with the fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5, a list of 9 including 1) Love; 2) Joy; 3) Peace; 4) Patience; 5) Kindness; 6) Goodness; 7) Faithfulness; 8) Gentleness; and 9) Self-Control.)
"EIGHT for the 8 the flood didn’t take"
1) Noah and his sons 2) Ham, 3) Shem and 4) Japheth. Add their wives and you have a total of 8 humans who survived the Biblical Flood.
"SEVEN for the 7 on their way to heaven"
This refers to the story found in Luke 20 and Matthew 22 of the woman who had seven husbands who died, and the question was asked of Jesus: “Whose wife will she be in the resurrection?”
"SIX for the 6 who couldn’t get fixed"
This could represent the 6 days of creation. After the Biblical Fall, all of creation was broken and looking for redemption.
"FIVE for the 5 who came back alive"
There are many people in scripture who came back from the dead. Here are 5 of them: 1) Jairus the synagogue ruler'’s daughter raised from the dead by Jesus; 2) Eutychus, the boy who fell out the window while long-winded Paul preached in Troas according to Acts 20; 3) the son of the widow of Zarephath who Elijah prayed for in I Kings 17; 4) Lazarus; 5) Jesus.
"FOUR for the 4 who stood at the door"
This stands for the four Gospel writers — 1) Matthew, 2) Mark, 3) Luke and 4) John.
"THREE for the Hebrew children"
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, survivors of King Nebuchandnezzar’s fiery furnace in Babylon, according to the Book of Daniel.
"TWO for Paul and Silas"
Paul and Silas were early apostles who travelled as missionaries together.
"ONE for the itty bitty baby who was born, born, born in Bethlehem!"
Preparations for the Christmas Pageant are underway, and we invite you to learn this song with us!
Director of Children’s Ministries
The past few weeks since the election have been difficult for most New Yorkers—the result was a shocking surprise and felt like a rebuke to the progressive values so many in this city hold dear: diversity, inclusion, tolerance, and equality, among others.
And to add insult to injury, those in the progressive Christian community have discovered that a majority of white “Christian” voters supported the candidate who ran an overtly racist, misogynistic, and xenophobic campaign—which are the antithesis of the Christian ethic to love our neighbor as ourselves.
So, where do we go from here? And what can we do to resist what feels like an existential threat to the values we hold most dear?Read More
Things look different in church this time of year. We use blue or purple cloth and candles, and we have evergreen wreaths and garland. This time of year, when we start getting ready to celebrate Jesus' birth at Christmas, is called Advent.
Advent is a time of expectation. "Expectation" means "looking forward to something", and during Advent, we are looking forward to Jesus being born.
Feasting on the Word: Advent Companion, David L. Bartlett, Barbara Brown Taylor, and Kimberly Bracken Long, Editors.
What was the first Bible verse you memorized as a child? Was it The 23rd Psalm? Was it The Lord’s Prayer? Was it The Golden Rule? How did you learn it? Can you still quote it today?
Singing scripture is one way to learn it. When I was a child we had lots and lots of scripture songs. One of my favorite was Psalm 119:11 in the King James Version, “Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against Thee!” I sing scripture all the time with our boys and girls and I especially love it when they ask to sing their favorites! They seem to really love it.
Many of us learned Bible verses because we were participating in a Christmas pageant. It’s funny how those verses can come back in new ways each time we revisit them with each passing year. Just the other day, a dear friend from this church who is praying for healing for my wife, Julie, reminded me of Luke 1:37 in a text message, “Nothing will be impossible with God.” These were words that brought me encouragement in the moment that day. These were the words the Angel Gabriel said to Mary when mentioning old Elizabeth, who although thought to be past child-bearing years, was pregnant with John the Baptist. Similar words were spoken to Abraham under the Oaks of Mamre in Genesis 18:14, “Is anything too wonderful for the Lord?” when referring to the fact that Sarah, although 90 years old and well past child-bearing age, would conceive and give birth to a son before the year was done. No wonder she laughed and her child was named “Isaac” which means “he laughs.”
Scripture verses are such a joy to learn and the art of applying them to current circumstances is wisdom indeed.
I love to see children get excited about learning Bible verses together. This summer I was visiting my granddaughter, Sofia, and her best friend, Olivia was over for a playdate. (see picture) I was enjoying talking with my daughter-in-law, Kelly, and Olivia’s mother, when she let me know that all of the five-year-olds in Olivia's class had learned Psalm 100 for Thanksgiving. So I asked Olivia’s mother to film her reciting it and whenever I need a pick-up I get out my cell phone and hear that child say, “Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth….” and by the time she finishes the entire Psalm with “….God’s faithfulness continues to every generation” and says “Goodbye!” I always have a smile on my face. It’s amazing how children love to recite scripture.
When my sister, Jill, and I were in grade school our father decided to teach us to recite Psalm 1. He brought a chalkboard to the dinner table and as we learned each verse he would erase it. By the end of the meal we could recite the whole thing. It’s something my sister and I still enjoy doing together from time to time.
Isaiah 40:8b tells us, “…the Word of our God will stand forever.” I believe that helping children memorize scripture is one of the most important things we do.
What were some of the first scripture verses you learned as a child?
What verses do you think are important for our children to learn?
Would you like to help be a Bible Memory coach for some of our children?
I’d love to hear from you!
Autumn is my favorite time of year. I love the changing colors, the shorter days, and the cooler nights.
I also love the rhythm of the changing “church seasons.” Autumn - and the end of the long Pentecost season, for example, brings new church programming for all ages, the return of children and adults from summer breaks, and lots of new music!: our Joyful Voices Choir on Sunday mornings, the Washington Heights Chamber Orchestra, and this year… our new Fort Washington Community Choir.
As my time as Interim Senior Minister at Fort Washington Collegiate Church also grows shorter (the Senior Minister Search Committee has been very active over the summer months; a large, diverse and talented pool of candidates has been screened and narrowed, and face-to-face interviews will begin in mid-October), I feel very good about all the work we have accomplished together over the past (almost!) two years:
- coming to terms with recent history
- developing a new vision for ministry in the community
- bringing expenses into alignment with income
- assembling a new, talented church staff
- beginning several new programs of outreach to the community
- welcoming new members and developing new leaders
I am also in the process of searching for my next “call.” I don’t yet know where my new place of ministry will be, but I’m excited about the possibilities. Gail and I have thoroughly enjoyed our time in New York City and we’re grateful for the support you’ve given us.
Over the coming weeks and months every effort will be made to make the conclusion of my ministry here, and the beginning of the new Senior Minister’s ministry at Fort Washington, as smooth as possible for everyone concerned.
Change is hard–and some people handle it better than others, but, for the most part, the congregation has handled it well. I’m confident that Fort Washington Collegiate Church is poised for a bright future as it embarks on its next chapter of ministry in northern Manhattan.
I shared this reflection at our Evensong Jazz Vespers this past summer – jazz as a metaphor for relating to each other and to God in our lives.
What is jazz? We know it when we hear it, or see it? But how would you define it? Pianist Bill Evans once said, “Jazz is not a what, it is a how.” Evans meant was that jazz isn’t a single style or sound, but rather it’s the way musicians relate to each other.
Very little in the music is predetermined. While the musicians might play off of a set tune or chord progression, each musician responds to that loose set of instructions in his or her own way, based on their experiences and what they’re feeling and hearing in the moment.
See, when we’re playing jazz, we’re relating to each other. We’re listening; we’re interacting – following each line and solo, imagining how we can support where the music goes. It also takes a lot of trust in one another – and in our own abilities to listen and respond – but in that relationship we continually find new, unexpected, and wonderful places.
And it’s not about us as individuals. The worst thing a jazz musician can do is get so caught up in his or her own sound that in that moment they abandon the group and forget about the bigger music we are creating together.
And you never know quite where jazz might go. To truly give yourself over to the spirit of jazz, there’s no way to control the music’s path. The most unhappy jazz musician would be the one who plays with others expecting them to play according to his way. There’s no room for creating together. He wants a world of robots.
Sometimes we want to place a score in front of God, and say “play!” and dictate each note – volume, length and articulation according to our way; according to what we think we deserve.
But I believe God’s mysterious ways are more like jazz. God hears the song of our lives, the prayers, the devotion, and the choices we make, and doesn’t just parrot back at us what we think we want. The Creator of the Universe takes our broken, incomplete, tattered lead-sheets we attempt to compose and plays back to us something unexpected, something we couldn’t have created ourselves, maybe something we feel we don’t “deserve” – good or bad.
Because, see, there’s no “shouldn’t have” in jazz. There’s no, “I played this, so you ought to have played that!” To play jazz together is to embrace where the music goes – whether we hear it as sublimely beautiful or seemingly off-key. When we truly take in what another person plays, it might not always be pretty to us. It might throw us off what we expected. But our choice is this: to judge, show contempt, stop listening, take ourselves out of the music. Or to engage – to take what we’ve been given and respond melodiously, to continue the music together, wherever it goes.
So do we engage with God when difficult music comes? When He spins a line that we didn’t expect, or don’t like, or we may even feel unworthy of receiving!
Likewise, who are the out-of-tune players in your life? The sour trumpet player who always hits you with the ‘wrong’ notes? The drummer who can’t seem to play quietly behind you when it’s your turn to solo.
When we accept the freedom that Christ offers – to die to ourselves, our desires, and our self-centeredness – what is reborn in us is a new song and wide-open ears. The new song we weave into the music of those around us, and the open ears which take in the songs of others, fully, understanding that this composition is not only ours to write. This life is not our own.