Historic New York Episcopal Church Chosen for Partners in Preservation Contest

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St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery the only Manhattan church among finalists.

St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery, one of New York’s most historic Episcopalian churches, is one of 40 New York landmarks chosen from more than 500 competitors to compete for a portion of $3 million in grant money marked for historic preservation projects through Partners in Preservation. The landmarks are competing in an online voting contest, and grant money will be awarded based on votes gathered and support demonstrated for each facility. St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery is one of five churches across New York City chosen to compete, and the only church located in Manhattan.

St, Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery is a diverse, welcoming Episcopal congregation that has experienced rapid growth in recent years under the leadership of The Rev. Winnie Varghese. Varghese leads the congregation in ancient, modern soulful Episcopal worship.

The church, which was the first U.S. parish independent of Trinity Church, is the oldest site of continuous worship in New York. A long line of notable architects have contributed to the church’s design, including James Renwick, Jr., the famed architect of the “Castle” in the Smithsonian Institute and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. If successful in the contest, St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery plans to use the grant funds to restore the circa 1858 cast iron portico that serves as the church’s entry way. The cast iron in the portico is attributed to James Bogardus, noted early proponent and innovator of cast iron construction.

St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery holds a unique position in its East Village community. In addition to providing spiritual leadership, the church has a long history of connecting the arts and spirituality and of pursuing social justice and community empowerment through worship, music, poetry, theater and dance. It carries on that tradition today by partnering with three progressive arts projects: Danspace, Incubator Arts and The Poetry Project to create daily opportunities for arts, activism and spiritual renewal for New Yorkers. St. Mark’s has a long history of supporting the arts and social justice, dating back to the 1920s when Isadora Duncan danced at the church.

“The opportunity to lead such a passionate and diverse congregation with a deep commitment to service has been an incredible one for me,” Varghese said. “So many members of our church see art and beauty as a way to connect spiritually. So, for me, this grant to restore our historic cast-iron portico was about improving our capacity to welcome the community to the church and preserving an artistic and historic component of our site.”

Voters anywhere in the world interested in supporting St. Mark’s can cast votes each day through May 21, by visiting PartnersinPreservation.com or Facebook.com/PartnersinPreservation. St. Mark’s Facebook page can be found at Facebook.com/StMarksBowery. The top three votes winners automatically receive grant funds, plus an additional number of finalists will receive some funds.

Other congregations, Brown Memorial Baptist Church, Congregation Beth Elohim, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Shrine and Rossville AME Zion Church were also chosen to participate in the contest this year.

About St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery

St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery is located in New York City’s East Village, at the intersection of 10th Street and Second Avenue. The property has been the site of continuous Christian worship for more than three-and-a-half-centuries and is the second-oldest church building in Manhattan. The church’s buildings and burial grounds were designated a New York City Landmark in 1966, and the site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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Erin White
Camino Public Relations
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