‘Time’ is up for Green Church

The Brooklyn Paper
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It might be too late to save the “Green Church,” but preservationists are hoping they can rescue a tiny piece of the emerald-stoned house of worship’s history before the wrecking ball arrives next week — a time capsule.

In 1899, the founders of the Bay Ridge United Methodist Church — then called the New Grace Methodist Episcopal Church — tucked some period relics behind the church’s cornerstone.

“In the little copper box which was placed in the corner stone were a Bible, a hymn book, a book containing the names of the members of the Ladies’ Aid Society, the Epworth League and the Building Committee; a photograph of Simon De Nyne, now deceased, a pioneer Methodist in the Bay Ridge section; a history of the church, a picture of the first church of the Methodist denomination in the vicinity, which was erected on Cowenhoven’s lane in 1830; a picture of the second church, which stood on Stewart avenue, and a photograph of the present church,” the Oct. 22, 1899, edition of the long-defunct Brooklyn Eagle reported.

“There was also a copy of a newspaper, containing the account of the capture of Manila by Dewey, in the box,” the Eagle reported.

Church officials think that the time capsule — and all of the 19th-century heirlooms with it — is still be behind the cornerstone.

“When we do the demolition, we’ll look into it,” said Pastor Robert Emerick, who has succeeded in his quest to tear down the gorgeous, but difficult-to-maintain, structure, sell the church’s land at the corner of Ovington Avenue, relocate the 211 bodies buried on the grounds, and build a smaller, more modern and more manageable house of worship that better fits the tiny congregation.

The demolition is pending Department of Buildings approval, but workers have already removed many of the church’s stained glass windows.

For some of the preservationists who rallied and petitioned to save the historic church, retrieving the time capsule is crucial.

“If the building comes down, the time capsule needs to be taken care of,” said Eric Rouda, a member of the Committee to Save the Green Church. “On top of everything else, I would hate to see that piece of history lost as well.”

But for other activists, the time capsule can’t stand in for the soon-to-be demolished church.

“When you compare the time capsule to the whole experience of what is happening — remains being moved, the church being stripped, and the crosses being taken down — this is so miniscule,” said Victoria Hofmo, who is a member of the committee.

The time capsule isn’t the only part of the church that might be salvaged.

Over the last two weeks, workers from the architectural antique shop “Olde Good Things” have been stripping the church clean.

An employee told The Brooklyn Paper that the company can resell “any architectural details, all the way down to the boards in the wall. It could be stained glass, it could be lighting. It could be the pews. It all depends on the building.”

All of the salvage work going on this week at the church is mere prelude to the demolition of the building itself, which is expected to begin next week. For months, local preservationists have sought a way to save the church from the wrecking ball, but the congregation held firm that demolition was necessary.

Updated 5:08 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Janis from Bay Ridge says:
It is amusing to discover so much misinformation in one tiny article.
Interesting who provides info for this kind of writing. Dear Ben Muessig have you ever considered to talk with with some of the active members of the Bay Ridge United Methodist Church?
I guess that is the "good tone" of the The Brooklyn Paper to keep throwing dirt at the people in the church community as they transition through loss and sadness.
Sept. 16, 2008, 7:40 am
Michael from Bay Ridge says:
Janis: What misinformation do you think this article contains?

Just curious.

As a bay ridge resident (though admittedly not a memeber of the methodist church) I am sad to see this building go. I am sure that something could have been done to save it, and those who let it be torn down have removed a piece of bay ridge's beauty and history. But it isn't the first time that has ever happened, nor is it the last. I hope that the new church building can be as beautiful and special as the old green church was.
Sept. 18, 2008, 7:32 am
Norm from Bay Ridge says:

I hope you count yourself among those people who could have 'done something to save it.'

Saving the church and saving the structure are two entirely different things you, or the preservationists seem unable to grasp.

Despite what councilman Gentile may perceive as a win-win, the congregation's mission shouldn't be handicapped because they enter into an 'alternative solution' that does more to satisfy the whimsical sentimentality of a few idle hands, than it does to make sure the work of this church survives for as long as they wish it.

Bay Ridge was asleep at the wheel for decades. They never saw the changes happening (micro or macro) and all these years this church was in disrepair, they walked past it's crumbling clock tower (myself included) took for granted the fact that there would be no one in the wings to just come along and save it.

Now that time has come, and the preservationists want to turn back the clock, and divert attention from the fact that they too were apathetic all these years.

I wish the congregation swell.
Sept. 18, 2008, 5:18 pm

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