The Church of Gethsemane has many special events throughout the year.
20th Anniversary Celebration
On October 4th, 2009 the Church celebrated it’s 20th Anniversary with a special event at 3 PM at the church. Members of the congregation shared stories of our past, our present, and our future. Special guests Mary Elizabeth Fitzgerald, Director of Community Life and Joan Ryan, Chairperson of Friends of Gethsemane were honored for their unique contributions to Gethsemane. Representatives from our Partner Churches, who have helped to support our programs from the very beginning were given certificates of appreciation. A journal was published with the history of the church which is available upon request.
The Church of Gethsemane Annual Thanksgiving Dinner is served to church members and neighbors following our Sunday Thanksgiving Service on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. Donations towards the dinner are made by church members, staff and local restaurants.
All neighbors who come to our Food Pantry are invited to join our church family for a wonderful Thanksgiving meal.
Children’s Christmas Party
The Annual Children’s Christmas Party is a very special event that brings the holiday spirit to over 100 children of incarcerated parents and their caregivers each year.
Thanks to generous donations of gifts from members of The Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church and Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church each child receives a toy and clothing.
After a brief worship service, children are treated to an afternoon of food, Christmas carols, and a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus. Most children take home their gifts to save for Christmas, and for some it will be the only gifts they receive.
Criminal Justice Sunday
Criminal Justice Sunday is another major event at Gethsemane. Until recently, when the Criminal Justice Division of the Presbyterian Church (USA) was cut due to lack of funds, the second Sunday in February was always designated as Criminal Justice Sunday. The Church of Gethsemane and the Presbytery of New York City continue this tradition. Criminal Justice Sunday at Gethsemane is set aside for a special worship service that includes liturgy, scripture, prayer, and a sermon relating to prison and re-entry ministry, criminal justice reform, and other issues relating to incarcerated persons and formerly incarcerated persons. A Litany for Justice is read by formerly incarcerated persons who are members of our congregation. After the worship service, there is a program with speakers and invited guests, including families of our Project Connect Members.
For resources for Criminal Justice Sunday go to www.pcusa.org and order copies of Justice Jottings from Marketplace. You may also contact the Council on Witness in Society and the World at the Presbytery of NYC 212-870-2221 for a booklet of resources or contact The Church of Gethsemane.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service
Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service planned for Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday. Last year The Park Slope Parents (www.parkslopeparents.com) contacted the church about celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday with a “Day of Service.” From 10 AM in the morning until 2 PM in the afternoon, over 200 men, women and children came to Gethsemane with food and clothing for our food pantry and baked goods to sell that resulted in a $400 donation for more food. Families gathered to sing, read stories, and create a banner, as we shared about the importance of treating everyone with kindness, respect, and equity. Rev. Alexander talked to the children about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, and his message of equal rights, and the “call to action” from Barak Obama. Several Park Slope Parents shared their musical talents as people joined us throughout the day. This next year we hope to build upon the success of last year’s event as we plan another “Day of Service” at The Church of Gethsemane.
Children of Abraham Peace Walk
The Children of Abraham Peace Walk is an annual event held each June. Congregations from Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and other religious communities come walk from one place of worship to another sharing stories of their traditions and commitments to peace. The Sixth Annual Children of Abraham Peace Walk began at the Al-Noor School, continued on to the Church of the Gethsemane/Kolot Chayeinu, went on to Congregation Beth Elohim and concluded at the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture with a feast of mideastern food donated by Naji Amontaster.
In past years the Peace Walk has explored Brooklyn Heights, crossing the Brooklyn Bridge over to Ground Zero; and has visited many congregations, including an Albanian mosque. This year, the Ethical Culture Society on Prospect Park West in Park Slope was the final venue.
Sponsoring congregations include Al-Mahdi Islamic Foundation; Al-Noor School; All Souls Bethlehem Church; the Arab Muslim American Federation; the Arab American Association of New York; Beit El Maqdis Islamic Center; Brit Tzedek v’Shalom, New York chapter (Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace); the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture; Brooklyn Congregations United; Church of Gethsemane; Congregation Beth Elohim; Council of Peoples Organization (COPO); Fellowship of Reconciliation; Kolot Chayeinu/Voices of Our Lives; the Muslim Consultative Network; the Park Slope Jewish Center; Temple Beth Emeth v’Ohr Progressive Shaarei Zedek; and the Islamic Mission of America.
LGBT Pride Events and Parade
The Church of Gethsemane participated in The Brooklyn LGBT Pride Day and The NYC LGBT Parade in Manhattan. New York City celebrates Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride in June each year. Brooklyn begins the celebration in early June. This past year Brooklyn Pride Day was on Saturday June 13th. Eight members of the Gethsemane family helped at The Church of Gethsemane Booth at the Brooklyn Pride Street Fair this past June, where we passed out over 150 brochures about the church and origami flowers from JusticeWorks. In the evening we carried the church banner down 7th Avenue in the parade.
On June 28th we joined with Presbyterian Welcome and other church groups to proclaim our inclusion of all of God’s children in our church. Our banner - Welcoming, Diverse, Inclusive - says it all! People of all ages and backgrounds cheered as we walked by.