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Spring 2013 Volume 1, Issue 1

The GreatHeart A newsletter from the Chapel of The Bowery Mission

What is The GreatHeart? By Jason Storbakken

In this issue: • New: Bible study and Support group • Washing the feet of the poor • Andre Griffin (10/1/45- 3/17/13) • Meet the interns • Ministry Spotlight: Loving Education at Home • Chapel themes for May, June and July • Ministry Partners’ Prayer Breakfast • Important dates to remember

Many of you may not know that the name of the chapel at The Bowery Mission is The GreatHeart. There was a wonderful book published in 1925 by former Mission Superintendent, John G. Hallimond, called “GreatHeart of the Bowery.” It was published shortly after Hallimond’s passing and initially (and posthumously) Hallimond was given the title “the GreatHeart of the Bowery.” Since his passing, and as the organization has continued to expand and deepen our commitment to NYC’s most marginalized, the chapel itself has taken on that title. And each of you, our Ministry Teams who faithfully share God’s love and the holy Gospel, help us to keep that GreatHeart beating. It is for that reason, that the chapel newsletter is also named The GreatHeart. While continuing to send the monthly email, it is my intent to distribute this newsletter on a quarterly basis. If you would like to contribute a poem, photo, reflection, etc., to the newsletter, please send me an email at

Mission Superintendent, John Hallimond, and his book “GreatHeart of the Bowery”

Ministry Spotlight: Loving Education at Home In the Fall of 2012, at The Bowery Mission’s Bi-Annual Ministry Partners’ Awards Ceremony, Rudy Hugo and Loving Education at Home were honored for “Encouraging the Next Generation of Christians to serve ‘the least of these.’” Rudy has ministered at the Mission for more than 15 years. Rudy’s co-laborer is Steve Esposito, who has ministered at the Mission for more than six years.

Island and New York State. They arrive around 11:30am, lead the noon chapel service, volunteer in the clothing room and kitchen or wherever needed, and then they lead the evening service. The Bowery Mission is blessed to partner with Rudy, Steve and the young people of Loving Education at Home.

In Steve’s ministry profile he wrote: “Over the years at the Bowery Mission I have witnessed lives changed, addictions defeated, families re-united, and faith in Jesus renewed and restored.” It is the young people who are truly the heart of Rudy and Steve’s Ministry. Loving Education at Home consists of homeschoolers from throughout Long

Rudy receiving his award for ministry

The GreatHeart

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Bible Study and Support Group Every Thursday at 2pm, when chapel is over and lunch has been served, a group of men and women, most of whom are homeless, gather in the chapel for the weekly Bible study. There are usually 20-30 of us gathered in a circle with our Bibles open seeking a deeper relationship with God and one another. The Bible study has addressed topics, such as “Recognizing Idols,” “Who is Jesus?” and “Who Wrote the Bible?” We have also gone verse-by-verse through James’ Epistle, and since December we’ve been reading through Luke; we are currently in Chapter 8. On Friday morning at 10:30am, a next group of men and women gather in the second floor

conference room for the weekly support group. These men and women talk about issues that affect their lives, such as alcoholism and drug addiction, gambling, anger issues, etc. Our interns (see Page 3) provide much support at these groups. Gwen co-leads the Bible study with me, and Gwen and Elif, under the direction of Kathy, colead the support group. Due to health or other issues, many of the attendees are not able to join The Bowery Mission’s residential recovery program. Thus, through the Bible study and support group we have found ways to more deeply minister to those on society’s fringes.

The Bible Study at The Bowery Mission: All Are Welcome!

Washing the Feet of the Poor On Maundy Thursday, we had two footwashing services at the Mission. In the morning the counselors washed the feet of the residents in the program; in the afternoon, Uros (who leads the Gospel Jazz band every Friday night in the chapel) and I held our second annual footwashing service for the homeless community. Since it was Thursday, we had our weekly Bible study that afternoon. Many of the men who had their feet washed were at the study. We applied spikenard oil on many of the men’s feet (just as Mary did for Jesus) and the chapel had a

wonderful musky smell. It is amazing how God works. It was not planned to reflect on the footwashing at the Bible study, but it just so happened that we left off in Luke 8, which tells the story of Jesus having his feet washed. Many men came to the Lord that day. Fifteen of the men in the program made an outward confession of faith. Actions do speak louder than words, and although we mostly washed feet (and said little), many responded with faith commitments. Please hold these men in prayer as they journey with God.

“Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.” – Jesus (John 13:14)

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The GreatHeart

Ministry Partners’ Prayer Breakfast On Saturday, March 16th we had our first Prayer Breakfast of 2013. It is always an encouragement when we gather together to break bread, worship and call on the name of the Lord together. Our ministers who serve at The Bowery Mission are a diverse group, representing Presbyterians, Baptists, Episcopalians, Pentecostals, Mennonites, and more denominations, yet we remain centered in Christ!

The Prayer Breakfast began with introductions and an ice-breaker question: “What does the chapel pulpit represent to you?” There were many great responses, some of which included: “Good News to the Poor,” “New beginning, new life,” and “Rebuild, restore, resurrect.”

Our ministers range from young adults to seasoned ministers in their mid-80s. We have skateboarding ministers and college professors. We have one service a month that is primarily Spanish (with an English translator) and another service that is primarily Chinese (with an English translator).

Trevor, our head chef, and his team made a delicious All-American breakfast of bacon and sausage, eggs, potatoes and fresh fruit. Sharon Buntin led us in a Spiritfilled time of worship! And we prayed! God is so good. It was a blessing to rest together in God’s presence and call upon our Holy Father to continue His mighty work in each of our lives and at The Bowery Mission.

Meet the Interns: Gwen and Elif The Bowery Mission currently has two graduate-level interns: Gwen is a divinity student at Union Theological Seminary and Elif is a social work student at Columbia University. They are both in their second semester of service at the Mission. Gwen works with Jason to minister to the homeless community, leading Bible studies and chapel services, and providing pastoral care. Gwen is originally from North Carolina and worked many years at the Department of Homeless Services in NYC. Gwen has already earned an advanced degree from New York Theological Seminary. She will graduate from UTS very soon.

Interns: Elif and Gwen

Elif works with Kathy Kiesel, the Crisis Intervention Coordinator. Elif helps

members of the homeless community access services and benefits for which they may be eligible. Elif is from Turkey. Gwen and Elif helped to start the Support Group and co-lead this group every Friday morning (See Page 2). It is a blessing to work with interns from various schools throughout the city. The first intern I (Jason) had the privilege to supervise at the Mission was Martin Aschner, who recently graduated with his Master of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary! Martin continues to lead a monthly chapel service and a devotional for the men in the program. The interns help us to build our capacity to serve while gaining real-world ministry and practical experience.

Chapel Themes

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May: “Through Christ You Will Be Forgiven!” (Scripture: Micah 7:1819) You have been forgiven. Everyone in this world has been forgiven. Christ hanged on that cross 2000 years ago. It is done. But now it is up to each of us to receive the forgiveness that God offers us through Jesus Christ. Forgiveness

is difficult because it implies that we have done something wrong: we have grieved God, ourselves and others.

God wants relationship with us. He desires us. He has made a way for us to be restored to a right relationship with Him.

Forgiveness is like a gift. It has been offered to us, but if we do not accept the gift then we have not yet received it. We must now accept our acceptance!

You are forgiven! Accept that God accepts you, and enter His presence – restored and a new creation in Christ!

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – Jesus (John 13:35)

June: “God is Love” “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance?” – Micah 7:18

(Scripture: John 13:34-35)

Jesus loves us so much that he allowed himself to be spit on, cursed, pierced, and killed. He had the power to call down armies of angels to destroy those who persecuted him, but he allowed himself to suffer so that we might have a way to enter into God’s presence.

We live in a culture that encourages strength through domination; i.e., he who can control others is stronger. But Christ calls us not to control or dominate others, but to be in relationship with others in a way that allows Christ’s light and love to shine through us The Israelites had many into the lives of others. commandments that regulated their lives. These

commandments affected their diet, the type of fabric with which their clothes were made, and many other seemingly arbitrary commandments. Christ gives us a new commandment: Love one another! If we confess Christ as our Lord and Savior, then we must love others as Christ loves all of us.

July: “Follow Jesus in All Circumstances” (Scripture: Luke 6:20-26) According to the Scriptures, Jesus preached the Beatitudes at least twice in his ministry. The Beatitudes first appear in Matthew at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount, and it appears again in Luke at the beginning of the Sermon on the Plain. Some consider the Beatitudes the core of Jesus’ teachings. Clearly, there is much to be mined here. The Lucan and Matthean versions of the Beatitudes are similar, yet have an interesting difference. Luke simply reads “Blessed are the poor…”

whereas Matthew reads “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” Luke’s version is more earthy; Matthew’s version is loftier, more spiritual; both imply great reward for those who endure in the midst of suffering. Why are the poor, hungry, weeping, hated, insulted and rejected to be considered blessed? The Word does not say they will be blessed. It says they are blessed. The blessing is in the present. Yes, the hungry will be satisfied, the weeping will laugh, etc. But the Word clearly says that those who hunger, weep, etc. are already blessed. Even in the midst of

suffering and persecution, if we persevere and trust that God will deliver us we can embrace the blessing of God’s presence in the present moment while still waiting to enter into the fullness of what God has for us. We must press on. We must persevere. We must embrace God’s blessing for us even in the midst of turmoil. God’s blessing is a spirit of calm and peace and confidence that God is true to His Word and will deliver us. Follow Jesus in every situation and circumstance, and live into the blessing even now!

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The GreatHeart

The passing of Andre Griffin (10/1/45 – 3/17/13) Andre was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam from 19661968. He saw much during his service, and was honorably discharged with the rank of Private. He came to The Bowery Mission soon after serving in the Vietnam War. By the early 1980s he was a regular fixture here. Andre was homeless and he didn’t have any family. The Mission became his home and we became his family. He always sat in the second to last pew of the chapel, and he was around the Mission longer than any staff person. He was 68 years old when he passed. He drank heavily and over the course of his last month his vital organs began to shut down and he was losing weight quickly. Kathy Kiesel, the Mission’s Crisis Intervention Coordinator, called the EMS. I visited him the next day at Beth Israel and, although he was already in a coma, I sat and prayed over him and held his hands. Less than twelve hours later he passed away.

Andre’s funeral at Calverton National Cemetery

Because he didn’t have any family, I claimed his body. With the help of Polly Lewis, a Ministry Partner (with Chatman Payne) and director of Lewis Funeral Service, we were able to honor Andre in his passing. The memorial service was attended by many staff, students and members of the homeless community. The funeral was held a couple of days later, and also attended by staff, students, and members of the homeless community who knew him well. As a veteran he had burial benefits and was given a plot and headstone at Calverton National Cemetery. The Army Honor Guard was present for the playing of Taps and the folding of the flag. The headstone will include his name, birth and death date, rank and branch of service. The inscription will read: “A friend of The Bowery Mission. Luke 6:20.” Andre will be missed by many.

The Army Honor Guard

Important Dates to Remember The next Ministry Partners’ Prayer Breakfast will be Saturday, June 15th at 9am at The Bowery Mission

The Bowery Mission 227 Bowery New York, New York 10002 PHONE: 212-674-3456 E-MAIL:

The inaugural Ministry Partners’ Retreat will be September 6-8 at Mont Lawn Camp. All Ministry Partners are invited to this low-cost/nocost retreat.

Visit us online at:

Mont Lawn Camp is located in the Poconos, a 2-hour drive from NYC. Pictured above: the chapel at camp

A Franciscan Benediction

May God bless you with discomfort At easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships, So that you may live deep within your heart. May God bless you with anger At injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, So that you may work for justice, freedom, and peace. May God bless you with tears To shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger, and war, So that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain to joy. And may God bless you with enough foolishness To believe that you can make a difference in the world, So that you can do what others claim cannot be done, To bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor.

The GreatHeart  
The GreatHeart  

A newsletter from the chapel of The Bowery Mission