Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Theater Grows In Brooklyn

As I was googling about looking for Presbyterians in the news, I stumbled upon this article in The Brooklyn Paper: Bam! New Theater on the Map.

They say the neon lights are bright in Fort Greene, thanks to the arrival of an acclaimed Off-Broadway theater company to the brownstone neighborhood.

The Irondale Ensemble Project has converted a disused wing of the historic Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church, on South Oxford Street, that has not been used since before World War II into the company’s first permanent home in its 25-year existence.

“Part of the challenge for us was that we wanted something that was completely versatile and raw and changeable,” said Terry Greiss, Irondale’s executive director. “This is the perfect space for us.”

His group’s domain is the upper floors of the massive church between Lafayette and Greene avenues, which was once a hotbed of abolitionist fervor before the Civil War.

I checked out the website of the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church and found a really cool congregation. The Lilly Endowment declared it
as one of the 300 Outstanding Protestant churches in the US. The Endowment identified LAPC as one of the American congregations that “nurture the human spirit, draw people closer to God, bring them into loving service and exemplify what is best in local churches throughout America.”
Among other things, this church is affiliated with the New York Jobs With Justice. The pastor, David Dyson serves on the board.
Founded in 1987, JwJ’s mission is to improve working people’s standard of living, fight for job security, and protect worker’s right to organize. JwJ’s core belief is that in order to be successful, worker’s rights struggles have to be part of a larger campaign for economic and social justice. To that end, JwJ has created a network of local coalitions that connect labor, faith-based, community, and student organizations to work together on workplace and community social justice campaigns.

Social justice is the heart of this congregation from its abolitionist beginnings to the present. Rev. Dyson was a former staffer for the United Farm Workers and the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers.

You'll enjoy this interview in which David tells how he went from union worker to pastor.

Back to BAM! According to the article this portion of the building hasn't been in use since before World War II. Now it will host the Irondal Ensemble Center that opens in October.

From abolitionist fervor to theater. It all keeps Jesus dancin'. Hey, if you have been googling Presbyterian news and think a story would be good for Joyful News on Ministry, let me know! Let me know what you are doing as well!

John Shuck is the pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton Tennessee and he blogs at Shuck and Jive. Contact him with your joyful news at this E-mail.

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