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Pictures from a special Saturday at First Presbyterian Church of Brooklyn

For the first time in three years, the Presbytery of New York City gathers for a hybrid meeting

by Jim Nedelka | Special to Presbyterian News Service

A highlight of Saturday’s first-ever hybrid meeting of the Presbytery of New York City’s, held at First Presbyterian Church of Brooklyn, was the musical offering of the congregation’s no-audition choir and its band. (Photo by Jim Nedelka)

NEW YORK — On Saturday, the Presbytery of New York City gathered in the 147-year-old sanctuary of First Presbyterian Church of Brooklyn for its first quarterly stated meeting of 2023.

What helped make this particular Saturday presbytery meeting special was that it was the presbytery’s first-ever hybrid assemblage, with a number of minister members and ruling elder commissioners opting to join those attending the proceedings in person via Zoom. They were joined by people serving the PC(USA) on the national level.

For the attendees in First’s pews, it was first time some three days shy of the date three years ago when the body last gathered in person in the pre-Covid world of March 2020, when, during the Year of the Woman, the PNYC installed the youngest woman elected as the body’s moderator, Ruling Elder Frances Thom.

The Rev. Shavon Starling-Louis and the Rev. Mary Newbern-Williams celebrate Communion. (Photo by Jim Nedelka)

This time around, during Women’s History Month, the presbytery heard testimony during worship  from the Co-Moderator of the 225th General Assembly, the Rev. Shavon Starling-Louis (beginning at 34:37 through 55:26 here), who concelebrated Holy Communion with the Rev. Mary Newbern-Williams, promoted during Saturday’s gathering from the PNYC’s gap presbyter to that of transitional presbyter.

In keeping with the hybrid nature of the meeting, the body also heard a message delivered via Zoom from the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, which can be heard here beginning at 56:14 through 1:07.03.

The Rev. Shavon Starling-Louis, Co-Moderator of the 225th General Assembly, addresses the Presbytery of New York City at First Presbyterian Church of Brooklyn. (Photo by Jim Nedelka)

Whether meeting in person or virtually, all attendees thrilled to the congregation’s “no audition choir” under the enthusiastic direction of Minister of Music Amy Neuner, accompanied by the sounds of First Brooklyn’s house band led by Matt Podd’s piano and Hammond organ, filled out with drums and a pair of saxophonists who double on bass and sharing Hammond duties.

The musical high point came during the worship service’s anthem, when soloist Nathania Reid delivered an amazing rendition of “In Times Like These,” which can be heard here from 29:26 through 34:24.

First Presbyterian Church of Brooklyn has been in continuous existence since its founding in 1822 when Brooklyn was an independent city. The congregation has worshipped in its current home at 124 Henry Street since 1847, having sold their original building a few blocks away on Orange Street to Plymouth Church, where noted theologian the Rev. Henry Ward Beecher began his pastorate in 1847.

 Jim Nedelka is a ruling elder and a frequent contributor to Presbyterian News Service.

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