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'President Lincoln' comes back to Brooklyn for birthday celebration - public invited
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New Utrecht Reformed Church

328 Years
1677-2005

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EDITORS: We invite your coverage. We also call to your attention for more information about James Getty: www.gettysburg.com/gcvb/lincoln.htm.

Immediate Release

BROOKLYN - Abraham Lincoln was only 19 at the time - when a famous Brooklyn building, the New Utrecht Reformed Church at 18th Ave. and 84th St. in Bensonhurst, opened its doors to the community.

But now, when Mr. James Getty arrives for one of his popular appearances in which he "becomes" Lincoln for members of the community who enjoy finding out about life in those times, the doors to the 1828 building will be locked. For more than a year, scaffolding to reinforce a roof has replaced people in the pews.

One of Mr. Getty's two performances Thursday, Feb. 10, will be in the church's Parish House, itself a historic structure known for its stained-glass windows and architecture. The show, free of charge, begins at 7:15 p.m. Parking is available in the church lot, off 18th Ave. Bus and subway stops also are nearby.

Earlier in the day, "President Lincoln" will be seen by more than 1,200 students at New Utrecht High School in a program arranged by Friends of Historic New Utrecht and school officials. Until December of 2003, when the church building was closed, the Lincoln's Birthday and other educational and cultural programs for the community were held in the church sanctuary.

"In the church, the students were in a historically authentic setting - much as Mr. Lincoln would have seen if he had visited Brooklyn in the 1800's," Friends president Robert Buonvino says. The historic organization and the church are raising funds to repair and restore the stone and wood structure. The cost is estimated at $2 million.

Mr. Getty is from Gettysburg, Pa. For more than 25 years he has given his one-man show as the nation's 16th president not only at The Battle Theater in Gettysburg but on television and in theaters around this country and in Canada. He also has worked with the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Seminars, the Corcoran Gallery and with universities including Johns Hopkins. His voice is heard as that of President Lincoln in two A&E programs. He appears in the Turner television film "The Ironclads."

In his Brooklyn programs, Mr. Getty, as Lincoln, will tell homespun stories about his early years, recalling his personal as well as political life. He shares the anguish he felt over Gettysburg and delivers his Gettysburg Address.

Because seating in the Parish House is limited, Mr. Buonvino suggests "history buffs" and others in the general public, including veterans and seniors groups, interested in attending the Thursday evening program at the church call in advance to reserve a seat. The number is (718) 256-7173.

The high school program is one of many in which the Friends organization and the New York City school system are working together to bring "living history lessons" to city youngsters. Mr. Getty's school appearance is made possible through the assistance of New Utrecht High School Principal Howard J. Lucks and Vice Principal Joseph Rizzi. With the assistance of librarian Norman Ringle, Friends also is opening to school children the church's archive material dating from Brooklyn's earliest years, from which the school got its name.

The New Utrecht Reformed Church, a member of the mainline Reformed Church in America (RCA), was founded in 1677. Its minister is the Rev. Terry Troia from Staten Island. Rev. Troia also is executive director of Project Hospitality, which serves the needy.

More information on the history of Brooklyn is available at www.historicnewutrecht.org.

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February 2005

 

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