Migrants sleeping on Paso Del Norte Bridge at El Paso border moved to Juárez shelter

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.


Theologizing the Caribbean's Decolonization

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.

Faith, Public & Private: A Spiritual and Social Justice Retreat September 21-22

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.

Mission Trips to Puerto Rico

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. 

BALSA Summer 2017


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  balsamanagement@gmail.com.


Click Here to REGISTER


Women's March, Saturday January 21st

The Women's March


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 uptowncommunitydems@gmail.com. You will be provided with a group leader's name and contact cell phone number.

Guest Preacher on January 15th for MLK Celebration

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.

Children, Go Where I Send Thee! A Counting Song for Advent

advent acolyte.jpeg

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!

Eric Alderfer
Director of Children’s Ministries

Advent: Hope, Peace, Joy, Love - A Way Forward in Difficult Times

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


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.



Playing Jazz with God

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.