The Marble Magazine
Worship with Us pg. 7
CYF Corner pg. 7
Spotlight: Stay Connected Online page 9
Thankful in Tough Times
As I was thinking about all that has unfolded in I’m thankful for our amazing staff. They are one of the past few months, I sat at my computer wondering the most gifted and dedicated teams with whom I’ve what to write for this article, asking myself, where do worked. During the pandemic they have risen to the I even begin? Then a scripture passage came to mind, challenge, worked extra hours and extra days, all so “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in our ministry could continue strongly during a time of all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ great need. They are extraordinary! Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). I’m thankful for the lay leadership at Marble. Amidst all the challenges we’re facing, there is so Recently, sixty-five leaders met (via Zoom) to talk much for which to be thankful, yet it’s easy to lose about Marble, where we are, and where we’re going. sight of this. If I stop to do a personal check in, I real- Their passionate faith and commitment to the minisize I’m worn out and becoming a little cranky at times tries of Marble are truly remarkable! (pray for Tena!). Slowly, my world has become more I’m thankful for our Board. They spend countless consumed with the challenges I’m facing than with hours in meetings, all behind the scenes, working to the many blessings God has given me. Maybe you’re ensure Marble’s future is bright. It’s not a glamorous experiencing the same thing. Unfortunately, when job and the load can be heavy, but they do it because this happens, our world shrinks and so too do the God has used Marble to touch their lives and they possibilities we see in it. want to give back to God in this way. Taking time to be thankful “Taking time to I’m thankful for all of you! We are a changes things, especially community bound together by our faith be thankful changes in tough times. As we conin Christ. Because of this, we face the sider this, it’s important to things…” future with faith not fear, a future filled note that scripture doesn’t with possibility. tell us to give thanks for all All of this is to say, if you’re struggling and circumstances. It says to give thanks in all circumstressed with the weight of what we’re facing, take stances because there is a power in being grateful. some time to be thankful. It’s not a way to ignore As Melody Beattie says, “Gratitude makes sense of what’s before us. Instead, God uses gratitude to our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision strengthen our resolve and widen our hope for what for tomorrow.” Therefore, when times are tough, this is to come. I know in writing this, God has certainly is precisely when gratitude is most needed. used it to help me. This is why I’m going to use this time to be Blessings, thankful.
Dr. Michael Bos Senior Minister
Dr. Michael Bos
Stuart Cole Gary Thompson
Staff for this Issue EDITOR:
Karla Fritsch PHOTOS:
Dave Cross Jay Johnson Siobhan Tull Karla Fritsch GRAPHIC DESIGN:
The ministers are working on a Resource List we hope will help each of us engage in the ongoing work of combatting systemic racism in our community, country and world. Please stay tuned to MarbleChurch.org for more information. American Civil Liberties Union – www.aclu.org Black Lives Matter – www.blacklivesmatter.com Campaign Zero – www.joincampaignzero.org
The Campaign Against Hunger – www.tcahnyc.org #8ToAbolition – www.8toabolition.com BOOKS
Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon for White America, by Michael Eric Dyson How to Be An AntiRacist, by Ibram X. Kendi So You Want to Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Oluo
Equal Justice Initiative – www.eji.org
Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor, by Layla Saad
Kings Against Violence Initiative – www.kavibrooklyn.org
Children of Promise – www.cpnyc.org
NAACP Legal Defense Fund – www.naacpldf.org Poor People’s Campaign – www.poorpeoplescampaign.org
The Cross and the Lynching Tree: A Requiem for Ahmaud Arbery. A United Church of Christ event from May 31 – www.youtu.be/vkJlT00onrA (UCC is one of Marble’s denominations.)
A WORD FROM OUR EXECUTIVE MINISTER RE-OPENING OUR HEARTS The triple crises – the COVID-19 pandemic, a global As I write this, New York City is moving into Phase 2 economic collapse and the eruption of centuries’ old of the great “Re-Opening.” I cannot tell you how happy patterns of racism in our country – literally brought our I was to see restaurants in my neighborhood pulling country to a standstill and, at the same time, people out tables and chairs to make room for outdoor seattook to the streets to stand up for justice and against ing. The first day outdoor dining was allowed in my violence lodged in racist attitudes and behaviors. neighborhood, all of the restaurants along Riverdale Think about what you have learned through this Avenue were teeming with people, activity, and life. time and perhaps ask yourself some questions: Barber shops and hair salons began to take appointments. Shop owners of stores that How do I want to re-enter the have been shuttered for over three world? How has experiencing these “What new doors triple crises changed me? How has it months were polishing their windows and sweeping the sidewalks, caused me to reflect on my life, prihas God opened getting everything ready for their orities, thinking, behaviors, attitudes, within you…? ” great “re-opening.” how I spend my time and resources? Many of us who live in New Times of crisis can be times of York City do so because of what the city has to offer opportunity. Crises bring great challenges, but they can – theater, music, museums, culture, diversity, great also bring real change and open new doors we have food and great energy. To watch all of that shut down not seen before. What new doors has God opened almost overnight was beyond unsettling – it was surwithin you during this time, new doors in your heart, real, almost eerie, to walk through empty city streets in new doors in your mind and patterns of thinking? New the middle of the day, streets that regularly teem with ways of speaking forth and emboldening action? workers, tourists, and the crowds of diverse peoples I am so anxious for the time when we can be back who make up New York. together again. But, in this in-between time, I send my But now we are starting to experience the love and prayers to you all. “Re-Opening.” As we move back into the world, might this be a time to once again push the pause button before we Rev. J. Elise Brown, Ph.D. go rushing back to reclaim as much of the “before” as we can? Before we rush back into life, might we take stock of what we have learned during this time and commit to emerging changed?
THE MARBLE CARE LINE Confidential, Christ-centered support for those who are hurting from those who care Life as we know it has changed drastically and with this has emerged a number of spiritual and emotional needs in our communities. The Marble Care Line Ministry is intended to help us spread God’s love and hope through caring support. The Care Line’s trained volunteers will provide non-judgmental, active listening to callers. 1-800-531-1913 or 646-790-6770, ext. 231 Wednesdays - Sundays, 12:00-8:00pm Available to adults 18 years and older. For more details, visit MarbleChurch.org/CareLine
Rev. J. Elise Brown, Ph.D. Executive Minister
Mario Sprouse Arts Ministry Coordinator
How the death of George Floyd is related to COVID-19. THOUGHTS ON GEORGE FLOYD AND THE GLOBAL RESPONSE TO HIS DEATH By Mario E. Sprouse As I watched demonstrations in the states and abroad protesting the cruel death of George Floyd, I found myself wondering, “Why now?” I expected a visceral reaction in American Black communities, but an international response? I was puzzled. What was it about this particular death that it would spark worldwide outrage? Why wasn’t there a similar reaction after the murder of Ahmaud Arbery was revealed, or Breonna Taylor’s bullet-riddled body was discovered? Why THIS death? My thoughts somehow took me back to an old poem from the late 19th century written by Paul Laurence Dunbar. “We Wear the Mask” was published in 1896, and in three short stanzas tells the story of African Americans who must be two distinctly different people in our society. The outer image that the world sees as a happy, grinning caricature hides the pain and deep suffering Blacks experienced every day of their lives. The pain of not being seen or heard followed them past Dunbar’s death in 1906 through Jim Crow, lynching, two world wars, the modern civil rights movement, riots, de-segregation and more. There was no massive international response, until now. Why? COVID-19 first appeared in December 2019. After the initial outbreak and the rapid spread to Europe, the world started to panic. I heard comments like “death and sickness in Biblical proportions” was on the horizon and we weren’t prepared. So the world shut down to contain the spread, which set off a mad scramble to find a vaccine. In the meantime, in order to slow down the virus, people all over the world were forced to wear a mask. Wait? A mask? Like Paul Laurence Dunbar wrote about. A mask to shield the wearer from getting and spreading the deadly disease. A mask, that on an unconscious level, I believe, very subtly made people aware of what it was like to hide and be fearful. Hourly newscasts
If you missed the special Talk Backs, Marble Artists Respond to Race in America (June 14), where Mario read his essay, or A Conversation About Race (June 7), with Marble’s ministers, you can view them at MarbleChurch.org on the event calendar pages for those dates.
shouted death tolls rising everywhere. But what struck me really hard was the urgent, almost frantic call for ventilators. There weren’t enough for everyone. Hundreds of thousands were getting really sick and dying because they couldn’t breathe. They couldn’t breathe. They. Couldn’t. Breathe. With millions of masks on millions of faces, people saw their loved ones of all ages in all countries suffer because they couldn’t breathe. It all began to make some sort of sense. It’s as if we were primed for this moment. Millions had already died from COVID-19 when Ahmaud Arbery was brutally hunted down and killed. No global protest. Millions had already died when Breonna Taylor died in a hail of bullets. No global outcry. But George Floyd was killed saying “I can’t breathe.” And the world erupted. Those last words took on an almost instantaneous meaning to global citizens because they’ve been hearing it for months, uttered by parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters, the elderly, and children – all over the world. There was something about wearing a mask for so long and hearing “I can’t breathe” that helped the world identify with George Floyd and the plight of people of color. The indiscriminate destruction of COVID-19 and the scope of racial injustice collided to form a voice of unity calling “Enough is enough!” that has never been heard on this grand scale before. A deadly disease that caused the world to stop, also is enabling it to come together, to begin the deeper healing process of eradicating systemic racism. Although at some point the coronavirus masks will come off, the cry of those unheard, will not be silenced and we will have to learn to listen to those whose darker skin is still their mask.
Reflections from the Editor
By Karla Fritsch I was lying on my bottom bunk in my room at the sorority, staring at the top bunk’s springs above me. It was during one of the darkest times in my life that had begun when my dad died four years earlier. To this day, decades later, I remember having a clear understanding in that moment – what I was going through was going to help me become who I was meant to be. I had to lose Daddy – or more specifically, to have my life fall apart in some huge way – or I’d go along playing the role that others wanted me to, not thinking for myself, not using my own voice, not being my true self. Not everyone has to have things totally fall to pieces in order to live a great life. Yet in large and small ways, there are always cracks. It hurts to have your life break open. It can be excruciating. And in my case, the major breaking seemed to get worse and worse, and take much too long. Yet, like a seed breaking open beneath the ground, growth was happening even when I couldn’t see it. The cracking or breaking open must happen. I feel like what we’ve all been going through these last four months during the COVID-19 pandemic has broken us open – as individuals, as communities, as a country, as a world. Then George Floyd was murdered. What hadn’t already been broken within us shattered. Horrendous things happened, yet so many awful things had been happening for ages. Is it that too many of us had been ignoring the cracks? In order to live our Divine call as humans, I guess the world as we knew it needed to burst wide open. It makes me think of the story of the Golden Buddha. For almost 200 years there was a big stucco statue of the Buddha, then when it had to be moved, it fell and the stucco cracked. Upon investigation, it was discovered that beneath the stucco was a statue made of gold. The stucco statue was large and amazing on its own, yet its authentic self had been hiding. It took breaking to let it show and truly shine.
As a whole, we humans have been that golden Buddha hiding our true, Divinely created selves. The pandemics of racism and the coronavirus have broken us open. Now we’ve been given the opportunity to see and live the truth that God intended – He created us all as unique individuals, yet connected in countless ways and meant to shine fully together. Racism, discord, division, ignorance and fear are all layers and layers of stucco hiding our light. With the stucco of our norms broken open, we can now experience the gold of our compassion. That gold shines a light that enables those of us who are white to see more clearly what systemic racism is and how it has severely wounded Black lives. That compassion glows when we wear a mask, because we care for others, not whether or not a government official requires it. That golden compassion illuminates how nature has responded positively to our sheltering in place, therefore our being more gentle with the earth. That compassion brightens the whole world when we march side by side and commit to never letting our light be covered again. Of course, with breaking comes grief. There is, and will continue to be, a lot of grieving of all kinds – grieving the normal routines that ended due to COVID-19, grieving the lack of hugs, grieving vacations not taken, grieving financial stability, grieving co-workers no longer working beside us, grieving changed neighborhoods due to closed businesses, the collective and cumulative grieving of racism, grieving the unbelievable number of deaths of loved ones and strangers… As the breaking and grieving go on, I pray we remember to use that shining gold of compassion to be gentle with ourselves and with others. Whether growing seeds, creating a sculpture, or dealing with loss, it’s a process. May we keep watching for new cracks and be dedicated to shine even more brightly.
Karla Fritsch Publications Manager
MOMENTS OF GOD’S GRACE By Kenneth Dake A few years ago I was in a deli on 28th Street one morning and ran into a friend from Marble. “How’s it going,” I breezily inquired, as I hadn’t seen her in a while. She was a singer in New York specializing in the American Songbook, and I remembered enjoying her many performances over the years. She began to explain that her life had just fallen apart, that she and her husband were having to flee the city. “Please pray for us!” My heart was heavy with her obvious grief, and my mind was confused about what this terrible calamity could be, I readily agreed to her request for prayer. As we kept in touch by email over the years, I gradually learned that her husband pleaded guilty to a crime and was sentenced to seven years in prison. She was now a broken soul who repeatedly turned to Marble livestreaming services for hope and support as her life was ripped away. Marble’s Ministry as an expression of God’s grace – available to anyone – was with her every step of the way. The day after the sentencing, at the behest of then senior minister Dr. Michael Brown, congregant Don Jiskoot travelled to meet with them and offer them his compassionate ministry. Don has a lifetime of experience as a Bureau of Prisons chaplain, mentor and counselor, and his Rev. Don Jiskoot generous counsel was invaluable in helping them navigate their many fears regarding the upcoming incarceration. To this day they consider Don’s visit a divine intervention. While imprisoned, her husband kept a jail journal. In it he wrote 125 poems, among which is his moving recollection of Marble’s Ministry, and what it meant to him during those difficult days.
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MARBLE I am an inmate at a Federal prison. Like all prisoners, exiled in relentless remorse and turning points that passed; The most painful the internal confinement in search of its meaning. But on certain nights, I recall the climb up Marble’s steps and those welcome smiles, its open doors, the special scent of holiness inside, the rapture of its transcendent choir; Everything telling you to come in: “You’re loved in here – Everyone’s loved In here” and all is forgiven. My daughter was married there; I can still hear the Marriage march; Its resounding bursting joyous hymn as we waited, my daughter and I In arms and love on that special day. I am 77 years old; I have run out of time and Grace; and only a memory of your blessed church, Please say a prayer for me; Even from this dark place I will know it.
We still have the Marble Care Fund, established to help members of our Marble Community in financial need after COVID-19. To donate or request help, please go to MarbleChurch.org/CareFund.
SUNDAY WORSHIP 11AM ONLINE
July/August 2020 Dr. Michael Bos Senior Minister
SUNDAY, JULY 5 Rev. Susanah Wade SUNDAY, JULY 12 Rev. J. Elise Brown, Ph.D. SUNDAY, JULY 19 Dr. Michael Bos SUNDAY, JULY 26 Rev. Brittany Juliette Hanlin SUNDAYS, AUGUST 2, 16 & 23 Dr. Michael Bos SUNDAY, AUGUST 9 Rev. Anthony Livolsi SUNDAY, AUGUST 30 Dr. Kenneth Ruge
As we continue to worship together ONLINE ONLY, remember, you can engage in conversation located on the top right corner of your with others during the live stream. Please click on the chat bubble screen. If you are watching via Facebook Live, let us know you are there by making a comment. Call-In Worship: (866) 893-5381 – Please tell those without internet they can call on Sunday afternoons and during the following week to listen to the full service or sermon & scripture only.
CYF CORNER VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL Monday, July 20 – Friday, July 24 | 1:00-2:30pm Welcome to The Wilderness Escape, an exciting journey with God’s people, the Israelites, that brings God’s Word to life for kids and the Israelites as they escape Egypt. Discover the truth straight from Moses—one of history’s greatest God-followers. See, hear, touch what it might have been like to live in the Bible-times wilderness! Children of all ages welcome! Middle School and High School youth can participate as junior leaders. Meet new friends, make crafts and sing songs. Each student receives a T-Shirt, Bible Memory Makers and materials for each craft. Please register by July 7 at MarbleChurch. org. Questions? Contact Rev. Brittany Juliette Hanlin (BHanlin@MarbleChurch.org).
Olive gets to know Moses
Online Sunday School will continue in July, take a break in August, then resume September 13.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 6 Sister Carol Perry
#WEWO: WEDNESDAY WORSHIP, 6:15PM Every Week, except July 8, August 26 & September 2
LIFE DURING QUARANTINE How did YOU spend your time during â€œThe Great Pauseâ€?? Here we see some members of the Marble Community who cooked, sketched, painted, practiced self-care and caring for others, streamed Sunday School and cut hair.
from Jeannie Michael
from Judy Tulin
from Abigail Shue
from LeCora Okeagu
from the McSween Family
from Tomasita Sherer
from the McSween Family
Touchpoint: July/August 2020
As the physical distance created by the COVID-19 pandemic continues, we are blessed that we can gather together online for Worship and other events. For direct links and the most up-to-date information, visit MarbleChurch.org/ moving-online.
LIVE WEBCAST SCHEDULE If you can’t be here in person, visit MarbleChurch.org or Facebook. Sundays 10am – Bible Study/Prayer Circle 10:48am – Grace Notes on Hiatus 11am – Worship
Wednesdays 6:15pm – #WeWo: Wednesday Worship TV – Fridays @ 4:30pm, MNN Time Warner Ch. 57 (Manhattan) Sermon Podcasts: Subscribe at MarbleChurch.org.
Marble Collegiate Church
1 West 29th Street (at Fifth Ave) New York, New York10001 212-686-2770 MARBLE ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Online Opportunities Spotlight MIDWEEK DEVOTIONAL Wednesdays, beginning July 1 12:00-12:30pm The Marble ministers lead a time of spiritual conversation. Join us via video chat at meeting.windstream.com/j/1122516515?status=success, or call (646) 741-5293 and enter meeting ID 112 251 6515.
ONLINE PRAYER CIRCLE Sundays, August 2-30 | 10:00-10:40am Join us for this time of prayer. All you need is a willing heart, an internet connection or telephone. Stay tuned for link and phone details. 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. Ken Ruge. For video link and more information, contact Judy Tulin (JTulin@MarbleChurch.org or ext. 207). Please note, does not meet on July 6, August 10 & 17.
ONLINE SMALL GROUPS Praying Our Experiences, Sundays, thru July 5, 12:30-1:15pm; Study of Esther, Mondays thru July 6, 7:00-8:00pm; The Empowered Woman II, starts Thursday, July 2, 6:30-8:00pm; When God Is Silent, starts Monday, July 13, 5:15-615pm; Enough: Finding Abundant Life in a World Striving for AFTERNOON PRAYER More, Tuesdays, thru July 14, 6:00-7:00pm. See MarbleChurch.org for details and register with Baleta Weekdays | 4:00-4:20pm Wind down your day with a brief time of sharing and McKenzie (BMcKenzie@MarbleChurch.org). prayer led by the Marble ministers. Join us via video chat or call. PRIMETIME (55+) Wednesday, July 8 | 1:00pm CHILDREN OF GOD STORYBOOK BIBLE Sister Carol Perry is our special guest for our last Every Monday, Wednesday & Friday | 1:00pm weekly video chat of the summer. Contact Baleta Read through Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s Children McKenzie (BMcKenzie@MarbleChurch.org or ext. 219), of God Storybook Bible with Rev. Brittany on Instagram. or Clay Hale (CHale@MarbleChurch.org or ext. 252). CHAIR YOGA YOUNG ADULT PUB THEOLOGY ONLINE Every Thursday | 10:00-10:45am Monday, July 13 | 6:00-7:00pm Center yourself physically and spiritually with this Grab a beer or whatever you have in the fridge, beginner-friendly time of gentle movement. and join our chat on faith and life. For details, contact CALL MINISTRY Rev. Anthony (ALivolsi@MarbleChurch.org). If you would like to help us call people from our congregation who live alone and might feel isolated, GIFTS: LGBTQ VIRTUAL COFFEE HOUR please fill out the online form or call us, 212-686-2770, Sundays, July 19 & August 16 | 12:00-1:00pm 9:00am-5:00pm, to be added to the call list. LGBTQ people and allies are invited to bring your own coffee and check in via video chat. ENCOURAGING WORD Hear an uplifting recorded message from one of SUNDAY MORNING BIBLE STUDY AND PRAYER Marble’s ministers at 212-686-2774. The messages Sundays, through July 26 | 10:00-10:40am change periodically and are available 24/7. Rev. Anthony Livolsi continues our exploration of Acts. Submit concerns and join in praying for others. WOMEN’S MINISTRY EVENT Monday, July 27 | 7:00-8:00pm Stay tuned for details. THE LAST WORD Hope is like the sun, which, as we journey toward it, casts the shadow of our burden behind us. — Samuel Smiles
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