Posts Tagged ‘First Presbyterian Church’

Includes the Randall Thompson pieces Feast of Praise, The Lord Is My Shepherd, Alleluia and The Last Words of David

First Presbyterian is at 362 State St, corner of Willett St, near Washington Park in Albany

The primaries in New York State are over. I must admit a fascination with all the yard signs in people’s lawns‘ we have three in ours, a new record. How do they do their designs so they don’t look like everyone else’s? A lot of them use red, white, and/or blue.

Generally speaking, I give points to anyone’s signs that didn’t fall in that category. Although: a candidate for city auditor named Susan Rizzo had an orange sign; from a distance, it looked red to me, and one doesn’t want red in a sign for someone in charge of the money. Her opponent, Glen Casey, had a picture of himself with a pale orange background, which, also from a distance, made him look as though he had clown hair.

I came across this state manual Municipal Control of Signs. Interesting geek reading. “Sign controls applicable to residential areas must therefore be carefully drawn to respect free speech while protecting the community’s appearance.”

The Capital District and north got a new area code in the 518 this summer, which is 838. It’s an overlay, which means that the new area code would cover the same geography as the old one when new numbers are assigned. Some folks are whining complaining that now they have to dial 10 digits rather than seven, but it is no big deal to me.

This is MUCH better outcome than if they had split the area code, with everyone in Albany and Troy, e.g., having to get new phone numbers, which would mean new business cards, new signs, and the need to spend advertising to promote that.

My church got a new sign, welcoming immigrants and refugees, around Labor Day. It fits in with the position of our Session, which is the local governing board, adopted at its meeting on Tuesday, September 19:

“As Christians, we are committed to stand with all who are oppressed, marginalized, or persecuted and to do all in our power to protect and defend. We boldly assert that God’s creation is universal and is a reflection of God’s own self, those of every race, color, ethnicity, of every gender, sexual orientation or sexual identity, speaking every language and born in every place, following every religious tradition. Every one of these is created in God’s own image and rejection of any is a rejection of God. We especially invite those in positions of leadership and power to restrain any injustice and to avoid at all costs any pandering or use of prejudice for political gain. We seek a world as God envisions, a world of justice, mercy, and love.”

One of the MANY things I’ve worried about as a parent is, while trying to instill values, trying not to turn the Daughter into some sort of philosophical mini-me. I’m not sure how that’s supposed to work.

Five or six years ago, when the LGBTQ Pride Parade was on Sunday, as it is this year, I took her along. I’m sure the marching and seeing all the people along the parade route was FUN. But was it really her choice?

The great thing about her getting older is that now I know she gets to make decisions for herself. Not only did she help decorate the church’s van, she helped led the Presbyterian Connection contingent.

When she was younger, she knew a friend with two mommies and thought that was fine. Now, though, she’s more aware of the bullying and discrimination that still takes place against LGBTQ people.

And she knows the world is not always a safe place. Back when we left the Tulip Festival in Albany’s Washington Park in May, she noted the concrete barriers at certain locations. These were deployed, no doubt, to try to prevent to ward off people using motor vehicles as weapons, as has happened in Nice, France; London, and elsewhere.

She expressed surprise that such measures weren’t used in the Pride Parade, given the increased backlash against equality. Indeed, during the parade, I’ve been long been wary of the intersection of Madison Avenue and Lark Street, where the religious resistance against the parade appears strongest. I waved at the guy with the giant 10 Commandments sign, but he scowled back.

Conversely, most of the people on the parade route absolutely LOVE the fact that the faith community is so active in the parade. And not just the Presbyterians, but the UUs and quite a few others.

It’s local election season, and a ton of political candidates actually led the parade.

I mentioned to one of our church members, who is gay, and suggested that I think the Pride Parade is more important than ever. He agreed, though five years ago, he thought the time might be right to abandon the event.

Next year, should the Daughter participate, I’ll know it is entirely her decision, based on her proudly wearing an Ally rainbow button.

During the first Sunday in June’s adult education class at church, a couple folks led a discussion on the journey we have taken individually in our personal understanding of issues involving LGBTQ rights. There were no right or wrong answers, just a safe place to share.

I talked about one guy, Vito Mastrogiovanni, who was “out” when I was in high school, although there were more gay men that I knew personally who were not out at the time.

There was the gay fellow in college, my next door neighbor in the dorm, who was openly hostile to me, seemingly for no reason. I later concluded that perhaps it wasn’t exactly my race but rather how especially judgmental black people, especially in the church, could be. And I was a nominal Christian at that point.

I mentioned being in Boys in the Band, and how transformative that was.

Others shared their stories. More than one told of same-gender couples who they knew. Though those pairings weren’t publicly couples in those days, most people knew.

One older gay man talked about acceptance, and sometimes lack thereof, from his family. In the 1970s, his mother couldn’t understand his sudden distaste for orange juice. I too mentioned boycotting it, over the fact that Anita Bryant was the spokesperson for Florida oranges.

One man was curious about the term “gay” when it used to mean happy. Some of the gay folks explained that it was almost like code, where it would mean different things to different audiences. (The Wikipedia article discusses its evolution. A reference to the Kinks song ‘David Watts’: “The lines ‘he is so gay and fancy free’ attest to the ambiguity of the word’s meaning at that time, with the second meaning evident only for those in the know.”)

Some in the group also mentioned how the term homosexual had become distasteful and anachronistic, rather like “colored” or “Negro” for black people. Moreover, homosexual, in a shortened form was a slur, and the word was a term that had been associated with a people who the psychiatric community had once called diseased.

It was, I must say, a very brave conversation, and I’m glad I was able to participate, only because the Gay Men’s Chorus was singing during the church service, which meant the chancel choir didn’t need to rehearse.

The Knox Choir is comprised of youth in grades 7 through 12 and is one of eight choirs of Westminster Presbyterian Church, Dayton, Ohio, where Pastors Glenn and Miriam served prior to coming to First Presbyterian in Albany.

This summer the group is embarking on a seven-day concert tour of the Northeast, including at First Presbyterian Church, 362 State Street, at the corner of Willett Street, across from Washington Park, in Albany, on Thursday June 8.

A wide variety of music will be sung, including works by Fauré and Bach, as well as music from the gospel tradition, and songs from around the globe. Since 2007, the Knox Choir has done eight tours, including three Presbyterian heritage tours of Scotland.

The evening will begin with a Potluck Supper at 6:00 in Assembly Hall at First Presbyterian. Bring some food to share and enjoy good conversation.

The Knox Choir Concert will begin at 7:30 pm in the church sanctuary. An event for all!

In addition to presenting concerts in churches, the group will be exploring local points of interest in Western and Central New York, Maine, Boston, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

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