Touchpoint Summer 2021

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TOUCHPOINT The Marble Magazine

Worship with Us pg. 8

Spotlight: Return to Building Update pg. 2

CYF Corner pg. 5

Summer Spirituality Series pg. 4


Marble Matters

Getting through the Storms of Life

When we are experiencing storms in life, all we Faith helps us see beyond the storm. Faith helps us want to do is make it through. We yearn for a time see the light on the horizon that tells us the storm will when things will change. We long for a new beginpass. Faith helps us see the contours of the shoreline ning. Yet too often we feel like our lives are being in the distance. Most importantly, faith helps us see overtaken by so many challenges, we are reaching our there is someone beside us who will see us through. breaking point not a turning point. Even if there is no end in sight, faith teaches us Fortunately, Jesus taught us an important lesson to trust we will find a way through. I am moved by about this. The story begins with Jesus inviting the how this is embodied in 2 Corinthians. It says, “We disciples to take a boat ride with him to the other side are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perof the lake. As they embark on plexed, but not in despair; persecuted, their ride, a storm overtakes but not abandoned; struck down, but not “Faith helps them and begins to swamp the destroyed” (4:8-9). Faith tells us that no boat. The disciples panic and matter how things appear, the light and us see beyond shout at Jesus, “What are you love of Christ will help us rise to the the storm.” doing? Taking us out to drown challenge. us?” Jesus then calms the storm As we face storms in life and fear and asks them a question we should remember to ask starts to creep in, remember to stop and ask yourself, ourselves amidst any struggles or storms. “Why are why am I so afraid? And then remember your faith… you so afraid? Have you no faith?” the faith that helps you see Jesus is by your side and What Jesus is teaching us is not to let fear overready to help calm the storm so you can get to the shadow our faith. If we respond with fear, we will only other side. see the storm and nothing else. We will panic, like the disciples, and our efforts will focus exclusively on getting ready to go down with the ship! Fear closes our minds to all possibilities.

Dr. Michael Bos Senior Minister


Dr. Bos, Dr. Brown & Rev. Wade getting ready to welcome people back into the Sanctuary for Worship!

RETURN TO BUILDING As of June, 92.9% of our staff are fully vaccinated or scheduled for vaccinations which poises our team to be safe and ready to provide in-person Worship. We also have a task force that has been working diligently implementing the protocols we will follow to return to our building. Based on these factors, here is our current schedule for in-person Worship at Marble. Sunday, July 11 – We will resume live streaming Worship from the Sanctuary; attendance for staff who are leading or providing support. Late July – Staff and volunteers who assist the congregation as part of Worship will be trained in protocols to resume in-person Worship. August – We will have a limited number of people attend Worship to ensure we have everything in place to welcome larger numbers. September – We will welcome people back into the Sanctuary based on the capacity we are allowed at that time.

We are focusing on Worship first because our Sanctuary is our largest and safest environment in which to gather in person. Additionally, the temporary boiler currently on 29th Street is being moved into our building. While we are doing this, we are also renovating some of our existing space to better accommodate program needs. This means that other than the Sanctuary, most of our existing campus will be inaccessible until the end of this year. Accordingly, we will continue many of our ministries virtually. Through the pandemic, many have joined us virtually from around the country and world and, going forward, we are committed to providing a parity of experience for virtual and in-person ministry, so wherever you are, you can participate in the life of Marble. Our team is working hard to ensure that when we return to the building, our ministry continues to be available and accessible to all people. As always, yet especially as we move toward our return to building, please check regularly and our weekly Thursday eblasts for the most up-to-date information.

Marble Matters

A WORD FROM OUR EXECUTIVE MINISTER ON THE ROAD FORWARD forward. You don’t put yourself in a spot where you By Rev. J. Elise Brown, Ph.D. can’t. You always go forward. In my work, that’s the As I write this, I am in Wisconsin visiting family only way to go.” whom I haven’t seen since Thanksgiving 2019. What I have pondered this wisdom a lot since that a blessing to reconnect with loved ones and emerge conversation. from this long pandemic tunnel which created such There’s a lot of talk about what we’ve lost separation and isolation for us all. I can’t remember through this pandemic. There has been loss of life, any year in my life when I didn’t see a single family loss of learning, loss of time with family and friends. member. 2020 was such a year for me, and perhaps Weddings have taken place with a handful of people; for you, too. funerals and memorial services have been held on I chose to drive from New York to Wisconsin. Zoom. Yes, there have been huge losses during It was exhilarating to get out this time. on the open road and drive But now, it is time to move “Truly, the only way we through beautiful (and long) forward. Like that truck driver, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana can go is forward.” it’s the only way to go. There is and Illinois. I stopped over in grief over what we have lost. eastern Ohio one night and There are regrets over the things we didn’t do, or the found myself in a place where a lot of large-scale things we did which we would like to undo (like the motor carriers stop over. These are huge semi-trucks pandemic stress eating so many have talked about). that are mammoth in size. Some even have several rigs attached in a row. Truly, the only way we can go is forward. And the only time we have is right now, this present moment One rig that was parked in the enormous parking and the commitments and intentions we make today, lot had three truck cabs attached in a single-file line with God’s help. after the initial cab. The front wheels of each cab the truck was hauling were hoisted up onto a ramp and I pray God gives you the courage and strength you the rear wheels were on the road. need to go forward into a new chapter of life, emergI spoke to the professional motor carrier driving this ing from a time of isolation and back into community. rig because I was amazed at the sheer length of it. I can’t wait to see you in church! “How do you back this thing up?” I asked him. “You don’t,” he said. “You just go forward.” “But what if you can’t? What if there’s not enough space and you have to back up?” I asked. The truck driver looked at me and smiled through his mask. “You always make sure you are set to go

FINANCIAL GIVING UPDATE Many thanks to everyone for continuing to support Marble financially during this extraordinary time. We appreciate it so much and we are eager to be back together again! This is where we stood as of June 9, 2021: Congregant Giving $1,371,775 (our goal is $1,398,550) Easter Offering $197,065 (our goal is $220,000) Marble Care Fund $54,152 (no goal was set for this Fund)


Rev. J. Elise Brown, Ph.D. Executive Minister

It is not too late to give to these three important funds, even as we end the FY21 fiscal year (June 30, 2021). We are able to accept gifts for FY21 into July before we formally close out FY21. If you need any help with your giving or have questions, please contact Clay Hale in the Business Office ( or 212-686-2770, ext. 252).

Staff for this Issue EDITOR:

Karla Fritsch PHOTOS:

Dave Cross Jay Johnson Dan Finegold Rick Harper Karla Fritsch GRAPHIC DESIGN:

Beth Player-DiCicco

Marble Matters


In the Marble Spotlight SUMMER SPIRITUALITY SERIES 2021 WHAT’S NEXT? Sundays, July 11 – August 29 10:00am In these days of continuing uncertainty, Marble ministers help us ponder What’s Next. Please join us online this summer. If you can’t watch live, view later at July 11 – Rev. Brittany Juliette Hanlin July 18 – Rev. J. Elise Brown, Ph.D. July 25 – Dr. Ken Ruge August 1 – Rev. Barbara Crafton August 8 – Dr. Michael Bos August 15 – Rev. Barbara Crafton August 22 – Rev. Susanah Wade August 29 – Rev. Brittany Juliette Hanlin

Sister Carol Perry

THE SAMURAI’S GARDEN ONLINE BOOK STUDY Wednesdays, July 14, 21 & 28 | 6:15-7:15pm Sister Carol Perry and Rev. Elise Brown explore the main characters and themes of one of Sister Carol’s favorite novels. Whether you have read the book or not, you are welcome to join them on Zoom. Please register in advance at so you receive the log-in information. Author Gail Tsukiyama wrote The Samurai’s Garden in 1994 and it remains one of her finest novels. The book tells the story of a young Chinese student from Hong Kong who is sent to his family’s beach home on the coast of Japan to recover from tuberculosis. At first reluctant to be “sent away,” this young man builds a whole new life and community with many surprising bonds forged in the midst of struggle. As the story unfolds, we encounter themes of what healing looks like and how inclusion/exclusion function in many societies and cultures.

SAVE THE DATE FORUM 2021: SACRED FOOD, BLESSED EARTH Thursday, September 9 Marble is partnering again with the Temple of Understanding for a virtual global forum on the environment. At the forum, we’ll explore: • The Indigenous heritage of sacred food • Reclaiming ancient wisdom to protect our future • Scientists on the impact of industrialized agriculture • Sacred food from an Interfaith perspective • Working farmers and organizers on International perspectives on regenerative farming • Faith-based farming in the United States • International Interfaith prayers and sacred music For more information, go to

MEMBERSHIP MATTERS – NO MATTER WHERE YOU ARE Whoever you are, wherever you are in your faith journey, wherever you live – we invite you to take that step and journey forward with us as a Marble member! We would be so glad to have you, and think you’ll find it will make a difference knowing you belong – knowing you are welcomed and loved for who you are. For more information or to sign up, please contact Kim Sebastian-Ryan, ( or 212-686-2770) or sign up at engage/join/become-a-member.

Marble Matters

CYF CORNER This year has been a wonderful online school year at CYF – with friends, family, faith, classes, service projects, parties, and worship. We thank all the teachers, choir directors, children, youth and families for making it so awesome. CYF classes will continue Sundays through July 25. The month of August will be a “screen break” for families to enjoy some time together. Rev. Brittany and Brian will be in touch with our Fall 2021 programming around September 1. For any questions, please contact Brian Hampton ( Thank You to all who contributed to the Youth Service Project Fundraiser, supporting Charity Water, working to bring clean and safe drinking water to people in developing countries, and the United Way of Houston, serving those impacted by the severe winter storm. They raised $ 6,360. If you missed the Youth-Led Earth Day Worship on April 18, or want to see it again, visit Walker McSween, Ella Niewood, Amanda Crewey giving their April 18 sermon, And God Saw It Was Good.

WHEN YOU NEED HELP During these challenging times, please reach out for help if you need it. Marble Care Line: Call 800-531-1913 — Wednesdays through Sundays, 12:00-8:00pm. A trained volunteer will listen to you with a Christcentered ear and a caring heart. Available to adults 18 years and older. Stephen Ministry at Marble — A one-to-one ministry that empowers lay members to provide high-quality, confidential, and Christ-centered care to those who are struggling with difficult life events. Email: Blanton Peale Counseling Center — If you need more in-depth, professional help with mental health issues, visit



Marble Matters

Rev. Rashad McPherson Marble Community Gospel Choir Director

NOTES ON FREEDOM FROM A BLACK QUEER PREACHER By Rev. Rashad McPherson “What are we doing for Juneteenth?” That’s the “What is freedom to you?” That’s the question question that buzzes through my family’s text thread that I ask myself when I find myself feeling “stuck.” every year round about the first week of June. Since I recently saw a screenshot of a quote by Alexander I was a child, my family has celebrated by attending Leon that dropped on me like a ton of bricks. It read: parades, hosting cookouts, taking road trips, and the “Queer people don’t grow up as ourselves, like. Always together. Always with family and close we grow up playing a version of ourselves that friends. sacrifices authenticity to minimize humiliation & You may now know that Juneteenth is a portmanprejudice. The massive task of our adult lives is teau of the words “June” and “nineteenth.” On to unpick which parts of ourselves are truly us & June 19, 1865, roughly two months after the which parts we’ve created to protect us.” confederacy surrendered, General Granger arrived in I literally felt the realization of those words in my Galveston, TX to communicate news that the war had body when I first read them. Because their truth is ended. Most importantly with the end of the war, the undeniable for so many of us; having been taught to words of the Emancipation Proclamation concerning love parts of our identities, but to “pray away” other slaves in the American South could finally be realparts we knew we would never be able to change. ized... Slaves were finally free! The realization that I, a queer person, could be Celebrations to commemorate Juneteenth loved, affirmed, and used by God just as I am occurred Independence Day (or “Freedom Day” as it is also during seminary. For my partner, it occurred not long called) sprang up in the years that followed. Originally after his 40th birthday. The preacher at his church mostly observed in Southern States, the Juneteenth greeted the congregation and said words that he had holiday migrated along with Black families who trav- never heard said from the pulpit before: “Happy Pride! eled north and west in search of gainful employment There is nothing wrong with you. God loves you just and better opportunities. as you are.” “What do you think about Juneteenth being in So, I’ll ask again... the news?” That’s the question that’s being debated “What is freedom to you?” As you consider what around dinner tables, and in social media; asked in freedom means to you, I’ll share what it means for me articles by pundits, and answered by memes that are as I near my fifth “coming-out-aversary.” As I continue equal parts funny and cynical. First and foremost, so to do the work of “removing disguises” to live into my many incredible activists and their supporters deserve truest and freest self, I learn that freedom is validacredit for their tireless work which resulted in the tion: acknowledgement from myself and others of all national recognition of Juneteenth as a federal of the things that I’ve overcome. holiday; activists like Ms. Opal Lee. Freedom is liberation. The late Toni Morrison However, we know better than to overestimate famously wrote: “If you wanna fly, you got to give up the significance of public gestures. Validation and the [stuff] that weighs you down.” liberation are not synonyms. To borrow a quote from Congresswoman Cori Bush: “It’s Junetenth AND Lastly, freedom is affirmation. Affirmation from reparations. It’s Juneteenth AND end police violence.” within and from the people that matter to you that you Liberation isn’t a function of words or announcements. are enough just as you are. Liberation is a result of the coordinated dismantling of Happy Belated Pride, family! systemic oppression. BE UPLIFTED & INSPIRED BY MARBLE MUSIC AGAIN & AGAIN! Visit to see Grace Notes: Inside the Music, the Spring concerts All Creation Sings God’s Praise (April 25) and The Sound of Revival (May 23), virtual videos by The Marble Choir and Gospel Choir, Jazz Vespers, last year’s Hymn Sings and more.

Marble Matters


Reflections from the Editor

By Karla Fritsch Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder. — E.B. White It’s easy for me to notice the presence of wonder when I’m surrounded by nature. How can I not be in awe when I see a sunset like I captured in this photo in Ellsworth, Maine. I do love it when God shows off like that. In addition to nature, there have been countless times in my life when God’s Presence of Wonder has come in the form of hearing from the right person at the right time, glimpses of inspiration flashing before me, an empty bus pulling up to the curb when I’m desperate for sitting in silence, hearing a song that nourishes my soul when I need it most… It used to be easier for me to observe all sorts of wonder but I think life during Covid, especially during the last six months, has rusted some of my wonderconnecting equipment. My world got smaller. Beyond the month I spent in Iowa, I only left my neighborhood or the city a handful of times in fifteen months. Even getting outside was a struggle as I dealt with mobility issues due to a recurring leg injury and arthritis, added to less built-in activity in my pandemiccreated world. My senses were dulled, they weren’t being stretched in a variety of directions as usual. It doesn’t mean there isn’t wonder always around me. Even here in Manhattan, beyond the parks’ borders, nature’s wonders have shown themselves, some more subtle than others, some more meaningful. After pushing to get myself outside one day, I was finally sitting on the stoop when a dragonfly flew close by me. That would be a nice surprise anyway, but four years ago, soon after my dear friend Ron (Chef Ron) Svenningsen died, one of his “visits” to me was a dragonfly flying beside me as I rode the escalator up from Penn Station. So, this time, as soon as I saw the dragonfly, I felt it was Ron coming by to say hi and to congratulate me on getting outside. Wonder. Delight. Gratitude.

However, some of my openness that used to be a channel for the unique and unexpected – especially for hearing God’s whispers and recognizing some wonders within – has gotten clogged. A couple months ago, God did awaken my senses to make sure I got an important message. So often it isn’t only the actual message, the wonder is wrapped in how the message comes through. I went to paste a document into my “Inspirations & Personal Growth” folder, when I accidentally opened another document without noticing the title. It was a quote by Wiss Auguste from The Illusions of Hope. It wasn’t even in any of my extensive quote folders where it belonged. When I looked at the words on my screen that day, I started to cry. My inner channel to God was stretched fully open. I was in awe that out of all my documents that was the one I clicked. I was in awe that I didn’t have a recollection of ever saving the quote, don’t even know where I first discovered it. I was in awe of the last sentence that I so desperately needed to read at that very moment. “Her legs were heavy. A grunt followed each step she took. Each step she took sent a painful sensation up her spine. Each step she took caused her knees to wobble. Yet she walked.” This hasn’t been my exact experience but close enough. I definitely needed the gift of the message, “YET SHE WALKED”. I got teary each time I read it. In addition to the literal message of reminding myself to move my body no matter what, it made me yearn for that open, free-flowing connection with God’s Wonder that I used to have. Has that connection been open and flowing since that experience? Not as much as I’d like. Yet, it has raised my consciousness to keep working on opening my eyes and opening my spirit. I have to hold on to hope and believe that each day as I walk, no matter how hard it is, my physical muscles will get stronger – and the flow of Wonder through my muscles and my being will get stronger, too.

Karla Fritsch Publications Manager




July /August 2021 Dr. Michael Bos Senior Minister

Freedom: A Complicated Journey JULY 4

Rev. Susanah Wade

Risky Faithfulness JULY 11

Rev. J. Elise Brown, Ph.D.

Sheep without a Shepherd JULY 18

Rev. Chad Tanaka Pack

Trusting Instincts JULY 25

Rev. J. Elise Brown, Ph.D.

What Makes Us Happier? Dr. Michael Bos, preaching

The Mindset AUGUST 1

Relationships AUGUST 8

Purpose AUGUST 15

Gratitude AUGUST 22

Generosity AUGUST 29


#WeWo: Wednesday Worship is on hiatus in July & August

And the Winner Is ___ ! SEPTEMBER 5 Sister Carol Perry

PRAYER CIRCLE VIA ZOOM Sundays | 10:00am Join us for this weekly time of prayer and music. The Circle is always open – all you need is a willing heart, an internet connection or telephone. Please note, not meeting on July 4.



Access the online bulletin each week while streaming Worship. Follow along during the service or download it for easy reference during the week. It pops up in a box directly below the streaming window on the homepage or Watch page, and you can also find it on the calendar page for a particular date. The Sunday bulletin is posted in advance each week on Friday.

Engage in conversation with others during the live stream of Worship. Click on the chat bubble located on top righthand corner of your screen. If you are watching via Facebook, let us know you are there in the comments. If you miss Worship or want to watch again, visit You can choose to view the sermon with scripture reading or the entire service.

FINGER LABYRINTH Finger Labyrinth Since you can’t walk the Marble Labyrinth in person, “walk” this image of the labyrinth by tracing the path into the center and then back with a finger of your non-dominant hand.



Marble Matters

ANTI-RACISM RESOURCES Marble is dedicated to sharing the best resources we have found on learning and growing in our shared commitment to racial justice and anti-racism. Please visit engage/anti-racism-resource-guide/ for a list of books, articles, podcasts and films so you can learn and help us in the on-going conversation.

RACIAL JUSTICE SERIES If you missed this year’s sessions or want to watch again, visit In addition to these videos from February – June 2021, you can also watch other Marble Racial Justice videos. We will continue our conversations in the Fall. Racism and the Church Dr. Nigel Pearce, Senior Minister of Grace Congrega­ tional Church, Harlem, discusses where the church has gone wrong and where the church has gone right in the quest for racial justice. The Evolution of Voting Rights Jessica Huseman, a reporter and CNN analyst, who covered voting rights during the recent elec­tion helps us learn more about the surprising history and current state of voting rights in America and why this issue is of great importance today.

Racism and the Asian Community During the pandemic we’ve seen hate crimes against Asians increase, highlighting the racism that exists toward the Asian Community. Dr. Hyun Kyung Chung, Asso­ciate Professor of Ecumenical Studies at Union Theological Seminary, explores the roots of this racism and how together we can address it. Racism and the Latinx Community The Latinx community is the largest minority group in the United States. Dr. Damaris Whittaker, Senior Minister at Ft. Washington Collegiate Church, helps us learn more about the Latinx experience in America and what we can do to advocate for equity and equality for all.

Marble Matters

Engage – More Upcoming Events

AFTERNOON PRAYER Tuesdays | 4:00-4:20pm Wind down your day with a brief time of sharing and prayer. Join us via Zoom or by phone. CHAIR YOGA Every Thursday | 10:00-10:45am Center yourself physically and spiritually with this beginner-friendly time of gentle movement. Join us via Zoom. Questions? Contact Siobhan Tull (STull@

ARTS ONLINE POP-UP GALLERY August 1 - Labor Day For three years the Arts Ministry held a Pop-Up Gallery in the Loft after Worship every Sunday in August so the congregation could see Marble artists up close and personal. This tradition has continued even during the pandemic by moving online. Join us this year at for Summer Joy featuring paintings and photographs that chronicle our post-pandemic summer experience.

For direct links and the most up-to-date information, visit

CAREGIVERS SUPPORT GROUP Saturdays, July 10 & August 7 | 1:00-3:00pm Learn how to provide better care to loved ones while protecting your own health and well-being. Please contact group leader Rev. Marion Gambardella ( or Judy Tulin (JTulin@


BEREAVEMENT GROUP Every Monday | 11:00am-12:00pm Are you mourning the loss of a loved one? You need not travel this road alone. Share your story in a confidential atmosphere of love and faith. Led by Dr. Bill Lutz. For video link and more information, contact Judy Tulin ( or 212-6862770, ext. 207).


Touchpoint: July & August 2021

UPDATE ON PRINTED TOUCHPOINTS FOR FALL 2021 This is the last printed issue of Touchpoint ​for now. Remember, the digital version emailed to you or found on the website can also be downloaded to your computer and printed at home if you prefer to read or share a hard copy. If you haven’t subscribed yet to receive Touchpoint via email, visit, click on “Email ENCOURAGING WORD Sign-Up” on the middle of the homepage and select Touchpoint from the drop-down list. Call 212-686-2774 — Hear an uplifting recorded message from one of Marble’s ministers 24/7 (messages change periodically). Be encouraged and pass it on.

THE LAST WORD I have come to accept the feeling of not knowing where I am going. And I have trained myself to love it. Because it is only when we are suspended in mid-air with no landing in sight, that we force our wings to unravel and alas begin our flight. And as we fly, we still may not know where we are going to. But the miracle is in the unfolding of the wings. You may not know where you’re going, but you know that so long as you spread your wings, the winds will carry you. — C. JoyBell C.

LIVE WEBCAST SCHEDULE Visit or Facebook Sundays 10am – Summer Spirituality Series 11am – Worship

Wednesdays WeWo on hiatus Sermon Podcasts: Subscribe at

Marble Collegiate Church

1 West 29th Street (at Fifth Ave) New York, New York 10001 212-686-2770 MARBLE ON SOCIAL MEDIA

WITH GRATITUDE TO OUR MARBLEVISION MEDIA CREW A special thank you to the MarbleVision crew You have blessed countless people by sharing your who has worked especially hard these last 15 gifts and putting in so much extra time. months keeping the Marble Community connected online through live streaming Worship and other Thank you also to all the staff members who events: Christina Morano Keiser, Director of Media hosted Zoom events and became a helping hand & Communication; Nick Giardina, Media Production through the pandemic as so many of us learned new Specialist; Dan Finegold, Part-time Production technology. Assistant; Tom Stark, Camera; Mike Thurlow, Camera; Rick Harper, Camera.