Why this Blog Exists

To make the case for expanding the Park Slope Historic District

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Old First's Mission Missing?

We noticed today that Old First's Mission Statement has gone missing from its usual home in a display case facing 7th Avenue. Here is what it used to look like:

Old First is like an old friend, towering over the intersection of 7th Avenue and Carroll Street. If Park Slope were a medieval European town, Old First would be the Gothic cathedral facing the main public square.

Old First Reformed Church
George L. Morse, Architect - 1889-92

We've always been impressed that Old First has historic preservation built into its Mission Statement:

Old First Reformed Church is a community of Jesus Christ in Brooklyn.

We welcome persons of every ethnicity, race, and orientation to worship, serve, and love God, and to love our neighbors as ourselves.

We embrace the following missions:

-To offer God's word, prayer, the sacraments, and discipleship.

- To offer outreach, education, fellowship and music.

- To offer sanctuary to anyone seeking spirituality and hope.

- To offer hospitality to community groups and the arts.

- To care for the gifts we have been given through our Reformed Church, including our historic sanctuary and building.

Could preservation be a form of spiritual practice? Old First's Mission Statement seems to hint at the possibility. Perhaps there is a sense in which Park Slope, our home, is a boon, a Gift, a "Garden" for which we, its residents, in a distant echo of Adam, bear a gardener's responsibility.

We hope to see Old First's Mission Statement soon restored to its rightful place facing 7th Avenue.


Old First said...

How sweet this is. Thank you. This is the first positive public notice we've ever gotten about that mission statement posting. We have to rebuild that signboard (it's falling apart) and we'll think hard about what we put up there.
Daniel Meeter

plain talkin' jane said...

Excerpts from Old First's News Release of Sept 30:

"Historic Old First Reformed Church suspends all use of its sanctuary until the ceiling can be secured or repaired.

"On Wednesday evening, September 28, 2011, at 7:50 PM, in the majestic sanctuary of Old First Reformed Church, pieces of plaster molding fell from the 60 foot high ceiling. Miraculously, no one was injured, because Congregation Beth Elohim was gathering for its Erev Rosh Hashana service just ten minutes later.…

"It was not accidental that a Jewish congregation was offered hospitality at the church. Ten years ago, on 9/11, the doors of the church were opened for a week to provide “sanctuary to anyone seeking spirituality and hope,” as its Mission Statement says. It also offers “hospitality to community groups and the arts.” The sanctuary, which seats a thousand, is used for concerts, Community Board meetings, readings, lectures, and more. It is the home of the Brooklyn Community Chorus, and the church’s deacons had just invited a local youth orchestra to move in.…

"Old First, one of the oldest churches in North America, was established as the Reformed Dutch Church of the Town of Brooklyn, along with its sister churches in Flatbush and Flatlands, on October 13, 1654. Its pastor, the Rev. Dr. Daniel Meeter, a published theologian, is active in civic affairs.…"

- - -

This is an expensive enterprise.

Many people have asked if they can help. Old First will post updates and have a page where you can see how to help, both on facebook:


Help Old First: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Help-Old-First-Sanctuary-Ceiling-and-Chandelier-Damage/259017780809040?sk=info

Thank you for your interest and support.
Old First will assess, make the repairs, and plans to open the sanctuary again, soon.