Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Episcopal Diocese plans to demolish historic Black church in Queens Village

Dear Friends,

Bishop Lawrence Provenzano of the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island has a track record of closing Black churches while favoring the restoration of non-Black churches. Parishioners of historic and architecturally significant St. Joseph’s Episcopal Church (built 1894) located at 99-10 217th Lane Queens Village have sounded the alarm on his latest attempt to close their church. Enough is enough!

At a press conference in front of the church on June 7th, I was joined by concerned members of the community and preservationists, including Bishop Melvin Artis, pastor of 4 local churches, urban planner and historian Paul Graziano, Richard Hellenbrecht, Vice President of Queens Civic Congress and First Vice Chair of Community Board 13 and Maureen Grey, church historian and former member of the St. Joseph's congregation.

The Episcopal Diocese is trying to close St. Joseph’s using inconsistent arguments, saying that DOB violations are making it cheaper to demolish and build a new ‘financially viable’ building. However, violations have been cleared up and outstanding penalties amount to $1,000.

The complex, dating back to 1894, is in relatively good repair and has many historic details. The architectural pedigree of the church complex is incomparable, having been designed by some of the premier architects of the late 19th and early 20th centuries:

Parfitt Brothers – Considered the top architectural firm in Brooklyn in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Hundreds of Parfitt designed buildings in Brooklyn Heights, Crown Heights North and Park Slope have been landmarked. Their firm designed the church. It is the only confirmed commission in Queens County by this firm and must be preserved.
Tuthill and Higgins – A renowned architectural firm from Jamaica. Designers of the St. Joseph’s Parsonage. Also designed the original Jamaica Hospital, Richmond Hill Branch of the Queens Public Library (one of the Carnegie Libraries) and an addition to the Reformed Church of Jamaica.
Hobart Upjohn – The grandson of Richard Upjohn (who designed Trinity Church in Manhattan). He was one of the most well-known architects for religious buildings, particularly for the Episcopal Church. He designed the parish hall.

Bishop Melvin Artis, who oversees 4 local churches, said, “I am appealing to every clergy member in the southeast Queens area: Let’s get behind the people of this church and make sure that this history remains intact.”

Urban planner and historian Paul Graziano pointed out that the Episcopal Diocese does not do this to churches in wealthier, majority white neighborhoods. “Would you see this happen in Garden City at the seat of power of the Episcopal Diocese? No. Do you see this happening in wealthy congregations in white neighborhoods? Definitely not. So, there is definitely something through the prism of ethnicity and race which is very disturbing to me because looking at how the Episcopal Church has described themselves that doesn’t really match.”

As a result of this deeply concerning situation, I have taken the step of submitting a Request for Evaluation (RFE) to the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Designation of the complex as an official NYC landmark would permanently protect the house of worship from demolition.

Please see photos of church, video of press conference and RFE application here. I'll keep the community up to date on my progress.

Yours truly,

Rene Hill
Candidate for City Council
District 27

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

That building is a real gem, something the Landmarks Law was created to protect. Definitely not the NIMBY nitpicking the Commission typically spends its time on.

Anonymous said...

BLM should give some money and save the Church !

Anonymous said...

The problem is, as it always has been, the elitism of the preservation community - we take care of ours and if you are too stupid to take your share of the taxes used to support the Landmark Commission, etc then that is your problem.

Sure, so the 90% of councilmen that have no Landmarks in their district destroy their communities and then turn on the islands skipped over. Look at South St Seaport. Look at Soho. Look at the East Side - all likely to lose their cases.

Then the final blow on Brooklyn Heights, 5th Ave, the Village, the West Side. In a generation the hopes of 50 years ago will be extinguished because the players were both elitists and unsavvy when it came to urban politics. Compare NYC to any city in Europe and weep.

Anonymous said...

America is letting this happen....do something before it's too late !

Anonymous said...

Moe said...
The devil is hard at work ladies and gentlemen.

Anonymous said...

America is letting this happen....do something before it's too late !


So much for the myth of NYC.

John Prester said...

"The Future Belongs to Those Who Show Up For It."

The chart below shows how TEC has lost almost 40 percent of its members, 1980 to 2019, within the context of a rising U.S. population.

Episcopal Church Baptized Membership 1980-2020

1980 2,556,926*
1990 2,446,050
2000 2,329,045
2010 1,951,907
2019 1,637,945

Episcopal Church Average Sunday Attendance 2000-19

2000 856,579
2005 787,271
2010 657,831
2015 579,780
2019 518,411

Episcopal Church Child Baptisms, 1980-2019

1980 56,167
1990 56,862
2000 46,603
2010 28,990
2019 17,672

Marriages

However startling the drop in baptisms, the most dramatic data is that for marriages, from 38,913 in 1980 to 6,148 in 2019. The number of marriages has declined markedly across the last 40 years, but the rate of decline sharply increased since 2000 and shows no sign of slowing. In the years when TEC argued about whom it should marry, it has largely ceased to marry anyone.

1980 38,913
1990 31,815
2000 22,441
2010 11,613
2019 6,128

Source: https://livingchurch.org/covenant/2020/10/19/facing-episcopal-church-decline-the-latest-numbers/

Anonymous said...

It really gets tedious seeing this same story repeated over and over again in Queens.

Don't waste your time - there is only one small group of people - your local elected officials - that matter. You, being from Queens, will be too polite to go after them for support and threaten them to nonsupport in their re-election bid if they don't.

And since no matter what happens, you will dutifully elect them again, this place is doomed. Check out their RE donors.

BTW, what IS Paul's track record?? (Hmmm what is that saying about doing something over and over again and expecting different results....?)

Anonymous said...

See the complaints filed and inspected. Someone is on a vendetta to cause trouble for this beautiful church http://a810-bisweb.nyc.gov/bisweb/ComplaintsByAddressServlet?requestid=1&allbin=4230728

Most of the inspections say that the complaints were not warranted.

Anonymous said...

I have seen this building and it's property in person and it is beautiful. We need to preserve this gem and highlight the history here.

Anonymous said...

More proof that black lives don’t really matter much in reality­čĄ« nor does their heritage. Just keep the “natives” happy with slogans and platitudes while selling off their real estate. SHAMEFUL!!!!

Anonymous said...

I have seen this building and it's property in person and it is beautiful. We need to preserve this gem and highlight the history here.

no $$%&$. feel better that you have made a statement?

so what are you doing besides proclaiming a platitude? I wager nothing. When it's gone we can all remember what the communities of Queens and their legendary neighborhood pride are worth when the rubber meets the road.

Anonymous said...

If this church is that important to people in the neighborhood and its a landmark, then it should be preserved and protected from these crappy people who are allowed to ruin neighborhoods with crap. Save this church! It is a landmark!

Anonymous said...

If this church is that important to people in the neighborhood and fits a landmark, then it should be preserved and protected from these crappy people who are allowed to ruin neighborhoods with crap. Save this church! It is a landmark!
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Of course, it is. The church can get it Landmarked, then sell it to another group which was the resources if they cannot maintain it - how about the Mormons? Religion is strong in this country, the mainstream faiths are like the Democratic Party, dying as they release a toxic stench. A dozen solutions are there if someone thinks for a change in these parts.

Words are cheap. You're going to do something about it? - take petitions, call your local electeds, come to a rally? Of course not. One of the reasons that when 'Queens' is mentioned in polite circles eyes go up and smirks come on people's faces. BS BS BS

Deke DaSilva said...

If this church is that important to people in the neighborhood

Then maybe they should show up for mass on Sundays?

Anonymous said...

As long as everyone is 'WOKE,' let's talk about the big, stinking elephant turd in the room: The FAITH Business (yes, fellow believers and worshipers, religion is a business). ALL deities are imaginary and man made. Abolish the churches, or better yet, impose tax regulations on their pious state of fraudulence, and watch them all topple like hobbled dominoes.

❝Man is the most insane species. He worships an invisible God and destroys a visible Nature. Unaware that this Nature he’s destroying is this God he’s worshiping.❞ ――Hubert Reeves

❝Religion is excellent stuff for keeping common people quiet. Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.❞ ――Napoleon Bonaparte

❝Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.❞ ――Karl Marx

❝All religion, my friend, is simply evolved out of fraud, fear, greed, imagination, and poetry.❞ ――Edgar Allan Poe

❝Music is the ONLY religion that delivers the goods.❞ ――Frank Zappa

❝The reason why people use a crucifix against vampires is because vampires are allergic to bullshit.❞ ――Richard Pryor

❝Religion is nothing more than an argument over real estate.❞ ――Joseph Campbell

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8r-e2NDSTuE