06/06/15 2:45pm
06/06/2015 2:45 PM
Tom Gahan calls everyone to attention during Saturday's celebrations in Mattituck. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

Tom Gahan calls everyone to attention during Saturday’s celebrations in Mattituck. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

Mattituck Presbyterian Church celebrated its 300th anniversary on Saturday with a party on and around its church grounds. The bash included tours of the church and the cemetery, presentations by local dignitaries and plenty of games for children.

The event also featured live music and a farmers and artisans market.

Celebrations continue with a concert Saturday evening at the church and conclude with Sunday’s services.

Click here to find out more about the celebration.

Scroll below for more photos by Katharine Schroeder.

Face painter Susan Brewster works on Annelise Durkin, 10, of Mattituck.

Face painter Susan Brewster works on Annelise Durkin, 10, of Mattituck.

Tony Raynor, 3, of Mattituck enjoying a game of hopscotch.

Tony Raynor, 3, of Mattituck enjoying a game of hopscotch.

County lawmaker Al Krupski with one of many proclamations handed out during the event.

County lawmaker Al Krupski with one of many proclamations handed out during the event.

Old meets new as Meghan Cavanaugh of Hampton Bays takes photos at the party.

Old meets new as Meghan Cavanaugh of Hampton Bays takes photos at the party.

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07/25/14 11:23am
07/25/2014 11:23 AM
Friday was the start of the man's three-day journey. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

Friday was the start of the man’s three-day journey. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

Did you notice a man carrying a cross down Main Road Friday morning?

The man, who identified himself only as Donald, started his morning at Mattituck Presbyterian Church where he had spent the night in preparation of what will be a three-day journey on foot — carrying a three-foot tall cross weighing in about five pounds — throughout his trip, he said during a brief interview on the Main Road sidewalk by in Aquebogue. (more…)

10/06/13 3:48pm
10/06/2013 3:48 PM
GRANT PARPAN PHOTO | Deacon Jeff Sykes and altar boy Chris Massey of Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Mattituck bless a horse Sunday.

GRANT PARPAN PHOTO | Deacon Jeff Sykes and altar boy Chris Massey of Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Mattituck bless a horse Sunday.

It’s not every day you go to church with three horses, two donkeys, a guinea pig, several cats and a few dozen dogs. And that’s what people love about the Blessing of the Animal ceremonies held at area churches each October.

“It’s the most fun we have all year,” said Deacon Jeff Sykes of Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Mattituck. “It’s particularly great out here. Other places, you’ll see some house pets. Here we have horses and donkeys, too.”

The Mattituck ceremony was one of several blessings held on the North Fork this weekend, along with events at Old Steeple Community Church in Aquebogue and St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Greenport.

06/02/13 1:20pm
06/02/2013 1:20 PM

CYNDI MURRAY PHOTO | Rabbi Gadi Capela inside Congregation Tifereth Israel in Greenport.

When rain threatened to wash out Greenport’s Arbor Day celebration on Thursday, Rabbi Gadi Capela opened the doors of Congregation Tifereth Israel synagogue on Fourth Street to shelter the ceremony. 

Born and raised in Israel and educated in New York City, Rabbi Capela said the community has been equally welcoming to him since moving to Greenport in March to begin his new job as the synagogue’s rabbi. He has already made fast friends with community members and local religious leaders.

“We don’t just work together, we enjoy lunches and we’ve formed personal relationships with each other,” he said. “Part of what attracted me here is how beautifully everything is kept. I thought if they keep care of the trees like this they must take good care of people, too.”

Rabbi Capela’s road to a life in religion was not a typical one.

Raised in a Jewish Orthodox family in Israel, he came to the United States at age 22 after spending four years in the Israeli Army, three of which were mandated. He signed on for an additional year to complete his officer training, he said.

Continued education initially drew Rabbi Capela to the United States. He studied at Yeshiva University in New York City and went on to become a successful banker at a mid-sized Manhattan firm, but he never lost sight of his faith.

He decided to pursue his master’s degree at Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City and began teaching Hebrew scripture, in particular the Book of Genesis, at Our Lady of the Island Catholic shrine in Manorville.

It was there where he met Ellen Harbes, a parishioner St. Agnes R.C. Church in Greenport. As his graduation from the seminary drew closer, Ms. Harbes encouraged Rabbi Capela to seek employment at Greenport’s Congregation Tifereth Israel. “Even before I started I had a recommendation from the Catholic church,” he said.

Still, Rabbi Capela said he struggled with leaving the corporate world.

“I loved my job; I wasn’t sure that I actually wanted to do congregational work,” he said. “A turning point came when I was at the office and thinking about studying, but when I was studying I didn’t think about the office. I was hesitant, but when I found Greenport it was a match.”

In March, Rabbi Capela replaced Rabbi Myron Fenster, who had come out of retirement to serve the synagogue as an interim rabbi.

“It took them five years to find a rabbi and there was a match on both ends,” Rabbi Capela said. “I didn’t want to be in a big synagogue and be very official, I wanted a one-on-one relationship with people and that’s what I’m getting here.”

Congregation Tifereth Israel was built in 1903 by a group of enterprising Jewish vendors seeking new markets. They arrived in Greenport by way of the railroad and purchased the lot on Fourth Street for $1,430. The building has been expanded several times, however the primary 20-by-30-foot sanctuary remains mostly unchanged from the founders’ original design. In 2006 the sanctuary was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

The synagogue has traditionally welcomed those of every faith for social events and religious education classes. Rabbi Capela said he looks forward to honoring that history.

“Interfaith to me is one of the cornerstones of being a rabbi,” he said. “It is not just for the Jewish community, it’s really about being embracing and being embraced by the general community. In scripture, God says ‘My house is a house of prayer for everybody,’ and that’s what I want to create.”

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11/23/12 8:01am
11/23/2012 8:01 AM

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | William Sockey, Our Lady of Fatima’s official custodian, brought the statue to St. Agnes R.C. Church in Greenport on Sunday.

The Our Lady of Fatima staue, hand carved from wood and blessed in 1952, made its way to churches across the region last weekend.

William Sockey, the statue’s official custodian, brought it to St. John the Evangelist R.C. Church in Riverhead last Friday and St. Agnes R.C. Church in Greenport on Sunday. Mr. Sockey, who lives in Venus, Pa., visited a total of 23 Long Island churches last week.

Worshipers brought rosaries and other religious items to be placed under the robes of the statue.

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10/08/12 8:00am
10/08/2012 8:00 AM

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | No amount of rain can spoil the pleasure of a good scratch for this pooch awaiting his blessing at Our Lady of Good Counsel in Mattituck.

In honor of the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, animals and their owners attended ceremonies across the North Fork to receive the traditional blessing.

Greenport’s Holy Trinity Episcopal Church held a ceremony at noon Sunday, presided over by Rev. Paul Wancura.

Deacon Jeff Sykes at Our Lady of Good Counsel in Mattituck performed a ceremony in the early afternoon as a steady downpour drenched both animals and their owners.

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08/05/12 5:00pm
08/05/2012 5:00 PM

COURTESY PHOTO | Growing up in Southold, Monica Miller was known to get into some trouble. Now she’s written a book named for two of the things that helped straighten her out, “Hip-Hop and Religion.”

When Monica Miller was growing up in Southold, she was always getting into trouble.

She was one of few African-Americans in her school, and says most of her early memories are of seeing the only potential black role models working as janitors or cooks on the lunch line.

She rebelled in the ways most teenage North Forkers were rebelling around the time she graduated in 1999. She wore eye makeup and ripped jeans. She got into fights at school. She listened to Metallica and learned the lyrics to every Guns & Roses song.

And then she discovered two passions that have intertwined in her newfound career as an academic: religion and hip-hop music.

She moved to New York to attend college in one of the most diverse cities in the world, then received her doctorate at Chicago Theological Seminary. With that degree in hand took a position just last year teaching religious studies at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Ore., where she’s once again one of the few African-Americans around.

Now 31, Dr. Miller is about to release a book titled “Religion and Hip-Hop,” which expands on the work she did in her doctoral thesis, and is about to launch a 12-city radio tour.

“No one would predict I would be a professor. I was really bad. I can’t tell you how many times [former Southold principal] Mary Fitzpatrick suspended me for fighting,” she said of her childhood in Southold, where her family moved full-time after her parents split up.

Dr. Miller’s mother, Charlotte Miller, has worked at Eastern Long Island Hospital for 30 years.

“She would always get calls to come pick up her daughter in the principal’s office for fighting,” said Dr. Miller. “It was hard. She was a single mom with three little brown girls. My grandparents, Addie and Alvin Pace in Peconic, helped my mom raise us. We lived with them for eight years.”

Looking back now, though, Dr. Miller sees how her unique upbringing helped her understand the role of the outsider in American culture.

With her new book, she finds herself again an outsider in the society of religious scholars. In her research, she examines frequent religious references in hip-hop music in the light of conventional thinking that hip-hop is in some way opposed to religion.

“ ‘Religion and Hip-Hop’ settles the score between the sacred and the profane,” she said. “There is no divide between the sacred and the secular. It’s a manufactured divide. There is no such thing.

“It’s going to piss off a lot of religious studies professors,” she added.

Her book is being released by Routledge, the British publishing house known for its academic titles,
Dr. Miller said she initially intended to enroll in law school, but realized that her interest in sociology was much stronger than her attraction to the law. From there, she began to explore the social context of religion.

“I wanted to find out what makes us choose to believe,” she said. “Religion is an important part of primary socialization in African-American culture. Pew [Research Center] studies consider African-Americans to have high rates of religiosity, but if you look at youth Pew data, there’s a growing trend of young non-belief.”

She said that while many fewer young African-Americans are going to church, as with their counterparts of other ethnic backgrounds, they still have a high rate of claiming to believe in God.

She points to the trend in Crump dancing, an ecstatic street dance form in South Central Los Angeles, and to the uptick in tattoos in the hip-hop community, as part of a new “faith in the flesh,” an atheistic humanistic trend she believes practitioners describe using religious language because “they have no other language to talk about it.”

“It’s actually something very humanistic,” she said. “You have no faith in the government and the state, or in God, but you do have faith that you and your friends can channel your hurt and anger and dance it out. That’s putting power in the self. It’s very new age.”

She added that when hip-hop artists talk about God and about killing in the same song, they’re only creating a contradiction for people who believe religion is something inherently moral and good.

“You can go through the Bible and see that same kind of contradiction,” she said. “God is also a murderer.
“It’s not our job [as academics] to make religion the moral sanitizers of everything in the world,” she said. “I think religion should be seen as a social construction. We should be critics, not caretakers.”

Dr. Miller has equally blunt words for educators in Southold.

“I got a very good education. It was like getting a private education in a public school,” she said. “But I still felt cultural isolation. There was a void that was not filled in me. I felt my teachers didn’t really believe in me.”

She urges teachers on the North Fork not to judge students and to teach James Baldwin’s works as well as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s.

“Give marginal groups the resources they need so they can build the confidence necessary to live full lives,” she said. “I make my students go to a community outside their own comfort zone and know what it feels like to be the other. It’s really important for everyone to feel that. I felt a lot of that growing up in high school. When I did see black students, they were in special ed. I fought back through knowledge.”

“Religion and Hip-Hop” will be available on amazon.com as of Aug. 15. More information about the book is available at religionandhiphop.com. Dr. Miller will be speaking at Columbia University on Sept. 21, and hopes to come back to Southold to speak around that time.

[email protected]