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Historic church stands "silent, quiet, awaiting further support"
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New Utrecht Reformed Church

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Left: Bob Buonvino, President of Friends of Historic New Utrecht, points out scaffolding inside sanctuary. Note the organ is covered in protective sheeting. Right: Scaffolding placed to shore up cracked ceiling.


BROOKLYN - A church in Brooklyn known for its historic roots as well as its modern-day vitality in the Bensonhurst community stands "silent and quiet, awaiting further support," according to the head of a borough organization that sponsors cultural and educational programs.

"Just as the New Utrecht church stands silent and quiet, as if awaiting the end of this long winter, so do we await  funds needed for repair and restoration," says Robert Buonvino, president of Friends of Historic New Utrecht.

The sanctuary of the  church, established in 1677, has been closed since just before Christmas. The estimated cost of repair is close to $2 million.

Scaffolding has been erected from the basement of the building, which dates from 1828, through the ceiling of the sanctuary to the attic. "Now, we await the next phase of construction," Mr. Buonvino said, adding that in order to preserve the historic community resource "significant  help will be needed from city, state and federal resources."

"We're in a holding pattern at the moment," he said. "Silent and quiet, we wait."

The New Utrecht Reformed Church, on Liberty Pole Boulevard (18th Ave.) between 83rd and 84th Streets, has for many years been a community home for organizations and church members from other denominations. Currently, all activities, including its Sunday worship services, are being held in the New Utrecht Parish House, itself a well known historic site.

The scaffolding was put in place to see that the roof did not collapse from snow during the winter. "We survived," Mr. Buonvino says. "Now, with financial help, the other work we have planned can continue." That will involve reinforcing wooden trusses with steel plates while the scaffolding stays in place, he explained.

Pictures of the work done so far are being posted on the recently-revamped Web sites of the church and Friends organization.

The church grounds are easily identifiable from miles around by the "Liberty Pole" on its front lawn, 106 feet high with a "Liberty Eagle" on top. This is the sixth pole placed there. The first went up in 1783 when the British were leaving the shores of what was to become the United States of America.

The church, its Parish House, cemetery and grounds dating back to Colonial Days, are within the Reformed Church in America denomination (RCA), formerly Dutch Reformed. The minister is the Rev. Terry Troia, who also is Executive Director of Project Hospitality, a service for the homeless and other needy, based on Staten Island.

Hundreds of public school students have been going into the sanctuary as part of the Friends' educational and cultural programs each year. "With public support, we can restore a vital part of our nation's heritage to Brooklyn, right here. We have a magnificent treasure rivaling what we find in Williamsburg and Boston in our own borough," the historian said.

More information on the old town of New Utrecht and other aspects of the history of Brooklyn may be obtained by calling (718)256-7173 and (718)234-9268.


PR services donated by bhprEspeciallyForChurches March 2004


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