Platform Meeting – Songs in Celebration of Women’s History Month
Mar 12 @ 11:00 am – 12:30 pm
Platform Meeting - Songs in Celebration of Women's History Month @ Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture

On this Sunday, the Brooklyn Women’s Chorus with Bev Grant will help us celebrate Women’s History Month with songs celebrating women and their struggle for freedom and justice.

The Brooklyn Women’s Chorus is celebrating their 20th year together with a concert on May 12 at the BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center in Manhattan at 99 Chambers Street.  The chorus has been rehearsing at BSEC every Tuesday since its formation.

Platform Meeting – Racism and Sexism: Pathetic History
Mar 19 @ 11:00 am – 12:30 pm
Platform Meeting - Racism and Sexism: Pathetic History @ Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture

Women experience racism somewhat differently than men do, and white women experience sexism differently from women of color. Movements for women’s rights were historically mostly dominated by white women, often focused on issues relevant primarily to white women, and were often expliclty or implicitly racist. Movements for racial justice were historically mostly dominated by men and often focused on “equal manhood,” and could be explicitly or implictly sexist.  Each movement sometimes actively worked against the other, and often the two movements saw each other as a common cause.  It’s a complicated history, including cooperation and betrayals. Clergy Leader Jone Johnson Lewis will call out some lessons for today in this tangled mess in honor of Women’s History Month.

Platform Meeting – Reproductive Rights 2017
Mar 26 @ 11:00 am – 12:30 pm
Statue of Liberty

Image (c) Jone Johnson Lewis

The current landscape: anti-choice lawmakers in the White House, Congress and state legislatures across the country attempting to dismantle reproductive rights and access. These changes target those populations that are already marginalized in our society, including women of color and low-income individuals.

The speaker will focus on what the reproductive rights and justice movements look like in 2017 and what we are fighting for. She will discuss the importance of state and local action to protect reproductive rights and health, and what we all can do this year to help pass meaningful state legislation that will advance abortion rights and contraceptive access in New York State.

Emily Kader

Emily Kader, Government Affairs and Advocacy Manager at the National Institute for Reproductive Health and the NIRH Action Fund

Emily Kadar is the Government Affairs and Advocacy Manager at the National Institute for Reproductive Health and the NIRH Action Fund. In that role, she lobbies for proactive, pro-choice policy in New York State and City and manages the organization’s electoral activity. Prior to joining the National Institute in 2012, Emily was part of the federal government relations team at the Center for Reproductive Rights and organized young activists as a National Campus Organizer at the Feminist Majority Foundation.

Platform Meeting – Transforming Anger
Apr 2 @ 11:00 am – 12:30 pm
Platform Meeting - Transforming Anger @ Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture

Every emotion, including anger, is part of our personal natural alarm system. Anger is a kind of human wisdom, warning us of a threat or of injustice. If we ignore, dismiss, or suppress our anger, we’ll miss that wisdom, and do measurable physical damage to our own bodies. If we act while angry, we may make the situation we’re facing even worse.  In this talk, we’ll explore how ideas from religion and philosophy and science can help us to transform anger into the kind of action that will bring real transformation to our lives and our world. With Clergy Leader Jone Johnson Lewis.


Colloquy: Transformation
Apr 9 @ 11:00 am – 12:30 pm
Colloquy: Transformation @ Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture

In a polarized nation, these are difficult times. Under what circumstances do people really open to a shift or even transformation of their perspective?

The founders of the Ethical movement had a dream of Ethical Culture Society members equipping themselves to be agents of moral transformation – building their own capacities to act in ethical ways toward the common good, and encouraging their colleagues and neighbors to do the same.

Today we can participate in our own capacity building for the sake of the larger good, by learning and sharing tools of communication that foster not simple agreement, but the capacity for transformation of both  our own and others perspectives.

Join Lisel Burns, Leader Emerita, in a colloquy dedicated to sharing our experience with tools of transformation. Feel free to bring your own experiences and tools to share.


Platform Meeting – Liberation, Sacrifice, Rebirth, Transformation
Apr 16 @ 11:00 am – 12:30 pm
Platform Meeting - Liberation, Sacrifice, Rebirth, Transformation @ Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture

What can ethical humanists make of the Christian story of sacrifice and the Jewish story of liberation, and other religious stories centered on spring?  Each has a different way of expressing a concept of birth, renewal, transformation.

Frances Beal, in 1969, wrote an essay on the topic of “to be black and female.”  In that essay, she identified the turning point of sacrifice — the point that differentiates the healthy sacrifice that is an important part of the human life journey, and the unhealthy part, that sacrifices others for the sake of the few.  She said, “To die for the revolution is a one-shot deal; to live for the revolution means taking on the more difficult commitment of changing our day-to-day life patterns.”

Many have asked what values you’d be willing to die for. Brooklyn Ethical’s interim Clergy Leader Jone Johnson Lewis. challenges us to think about what values we’d be willing to live for.


A Poetry Reading- Your Silence Will Not Protect You.
Apr 23 @ 11:00 am – 12:30 pm
A Poetry Reading- Your Silence Will Not Protect You. @ Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture

In honor of National Poetry Month
The Brooklyn Society Writers
Your Silence Will Not Protect You.”

It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.
When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid. –  Audre Lorde

Please join us as a dozen Brooklyn poets lend their voices to share the promise of hope, the power of love and now, more than ever, the power of standing up and being counted!

Platform Meeting – Journeys: An Exercise in Dialogue and Reflection
Apr 30 @ 11:00 am – 12:30 pm
Platform Meeting - Journeys: An Exercise in Dialogue and Reflection @ Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture

Christian Hayden, Mossler Fellow this year of the American Ethical Union, will lead attendees in an evolving exercise, that explores how we can become more grounded, and leave a space more connected than we entered. Christian will employ techniques of exchange from Ethical Culture’s own colloquy (meditative reflection that uses music), along with Theatre of the Oppressed (an assortment of movement games that explore social justice) techniques. If you want to be a part of this experience, come open minded in comfortable clothes and ready to explore with others.

Christian is a member of the Philadelphia Ethical Society and works as a community educator with a domestic violence organization in Philadelphia. Inspired by the colloquy, Christian sought to bring the technique to communities of color while also expanding the technique to include movement as a means of enhancing dialogue. He spent three years as an Americorps member and completed a year of service in Ghana with the Humanist Service Corps. He looks to expand Ethical Culture with his work as a Mossler Fellow of the American Ethical Union, the umbrella organization of Ethical Societies.

Being a Change Agent with Heart
Apr 29 @ 11:00 am – 12:30 pm
Being a Change Agent with Heart @ Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture

How our compassion can emerge for the long haul of a lifetime.

Lucia Gomez is an apprentice with Universal Partnership and an organizer with the Laborers Union. She cultivates her capacity to approach her activism for social change with love and compassion. Universal Partnership promotes the belief that at the heart of sustainable movements must be the beat of sustainable people. Their mission is to provide innovative self-healing tools, life, and leadership skills to support agents of change in sustaining their humanity and the humanity of the communities they serve, by organizing from a place of wholeness. Join us while we hear how Lucia Gomez has been able to bring her whole self to her organizing and help us do more of the same.

Sunday Meeting: Black Art and the Ethics of Disruption
Jul 15 @ 11:00 am – 12:30 pm

(c) Adobe. Used with permission.

In his talk, Black Art and the Ethics of Disruption, Joe Tolbert Jr. will explore the ways that Black expressive culture enacts an ethics of disruption and the impact that it can have in our current political climate.

Joe T. is a minister, scholar, writer and cultural organizer whose work is at the intersections of art, culture, spirituality and social justice. He received his B.S. in Communications from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and completed his M.Div. with a concentration in Social Ethics from Union Theological Seminary in the city of New York. His work has been supported by fellowships from National Art Strategies Creative Communities Fellowship, and he is currently an Arts and Culture Fellow with the Intercultural Leadership Institute. His goal with his work is to help others live, dream, achieve, and inspire. Agreeing with Hip-Hop mogul Russell Simmons statement, “Art allows people to dream their way out of struggle,” Joe believes that art and culture plays a vital role in any movement for social change. As a Cultural Organizer and Consultant, Joe is a sought-after facilitator and cultural strategist that works with communities to help them harness the power of art and culture through the building, implementation and evaluation of cultural strategies. As a writer he has contributed articles to Alternate Roots, Arts.Black, and Quiet Lunch, among others.

Sunday Meeting: Queer Safe(r) Space:  Black Church Concerts
Jul 29 @ 11:00 am – 12:30 pm

From our Intern Clergy Leader, Jé Exodus Hooper:  Homosexuality in the Black church could be considered by many an intersectionality of the sacred and profane. Secularist and the religious community agree on the antithetical positionality of the persistently egregious tensions between their respective communities.  For those who find themselves at the crossroads of identifying as black, Christian and same-gender loving, compartmentalizing these aspects of oneself provides an illusion of safety.  This means rarely existing in a truly authentic manner, fully disclosing oneself, but frequently showing-up in a partially present demeanor.

The word "MUSIC" written in rusty metal letterpress type sitting on a wooden ledge background.

(c) Adobe, used with permission.

Paradoxically, it seems that the black church, in its dogmatic heterosexism, would provide a limited safer space for those who do not conform to heterosexist ideas of sexuality and gender performance that is sermonized within the same walls.  Limited safer space indicates that the LGBT community is provided with more liberties in the music scene but not fully authorized to outwardly display genuine sexual expression.  Boundaries for appropriate behavior are relaxed but not fully removed; again, tensions between the sacred and profane appear.

Our guest speaker on this topic in our Summer Series on The Arts and Social Justice is Ryan Hill of Richmond, Virginia, who has been a creative, analytical lover of humankind.  Living a life of actively helping people, Ryan has assisted others via fitness and nutrition, served as mentor and counselor, been a financial advisor, and is currently embarking on additional education to offer spiritual guidance within the community.  Having a career in finance for more than 15 years, he now plans to integrate the physical, spiritual, emotional, and financial into a practice of offering holistic services to the disenfranchised.  A lover of music, art, and the human spirit, Ryan desires to implement the arts in every aspect of life creating an atmosphere leading where creativity aids in the healing process.

Decolonized Eyes: Embodied Engagement with Experience
Aug 5 @ 11:00 am – 12:30 pm
Decolonized Eyes: Embodied Engagement with Experience @ Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture

This platform explores an ethical approach to engaging art for the purposes of justice. In it, we explore strategies for disrupting the colonial gaze when engaging the experiences of people of color as expressed through art.
Elyse Ambrose is a black queer woman.
She is a healing activist, sexual ethicist, and word artist. Her justice work, research, and art lie at the intersections of race, sexuality, gender, class, and spirituality. Currently, a Ph.D. Candidate at Drew University (Religion and Society, concentrating in Women’s & Gender Studies and African American Studies), Elyse’s desire for her scholarship to impact and be informed by real lives leads to a synergy of theory and practice. She is the Founder and Creative Organizer of phoeniXspark, which offers workshops and retreats that center the experiences of queer and trans people of color (QTPoC) as it creates space for healing of sexual and gender selves. Currently, Elyse serves as a Research Fellow at The Center on African American Religion, Sexual Politics, and Social Justice at Columbia University. This summer, she will also engage research on 1920s black queer Harlem as a Coolidge Fellow through Auburn Seminary and CrossCurrents.

Humanitas: The making of a film and fellowship
Aug 12 @ 11:00 am – 12:30 pm
Humanitas: The making of a film and fellowship @ Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture

Jé Hooper, our summer intern, and upcoming Ethical Culture Leader, offers a panel discussion with the staff and cast of Humanitas. Join Storäe Michele, the Society’s own black female director, and screenwriter, as she moderates the panel discussion. Get a chance to witness first hand, a perspective on film and simultaneously, a new lens to congregational life within Ethical Culture. How do film and art intersect with congregational life? How does film create and validate fellowship? How does this era of media and arts inform our community and revitalizes the importance of congregation? This is a platform you don’t want to miss.