On Sunday, September 26, Plymouth Church will dedicate a new pulpit at the worship service led by Senior Minister Rev. Dr. David C. Fisher. This special moment for the membership of the Brooklyn Heights-based Congregational Church has historical resonance beyond the walls of the church’s 19th century sanctuary.
In the years following the Civil War … an era of peace and prosperity led many prominent church members to seek new leisure, and one group led by Moses Beach, publisher of The Daily Sun, put together an ambitious plan in 1867 to take an epic passenger cruise to Europe and the Holy Land … the Quaker City voyage gave him the opportunity to bring a special gift back to Plymouth: olive wood from Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives. The wood was used to create a new pulpit as well as a chair, a baptismal font and two small pulpit tables. These were an integral part of Plymouth worship into the 1940s, whereupon a large, sleek and modern lectern arrived. Once replaced, the old pulpit was lost to history, save the original olive veneer top which had been incorporated into the new version.
With the 2004 arrival of Rev. Fisher to Plymouth Church and growth in the church’s History Ministry came new interest in building a pulpit that honored the church’s past as well as its modern presence. Plymouth member and interior designer Sabina Hemminger, trained as a woodworker in her native Germany, volunteered to undertake a design that referenced the original piece. To aid her work, photographs and documents of [Henry Ward] Beecher’s pulpit were uncovered in the Plymouth archives and Brooklyn Public Library. She then found a Brooklyn-based woodworking specialist with experience in ecclesiastical furniture named Franz Fischer. He crafted the new piece of furniture from Mediterranean olive wood, once again incorporating Beecher’s original veneer top into the design.
The new Plymouth pulpit will be dedicated on Sunday, September 26, at 11:00 a.m. Additional information is available at 718-624-4743 or at the Plymouth site, www.plymouthchurch.org.