|what is CHURCH|
|what could we do at church???|
|who's there & who's [in] trouble|
|some 2022 shows|
what is CHURCH
the ridgewood presbyterian church (aka stone circle theatre, cross street community church, et al.) has priced out locals, shut down DIY efforts, & raised funds for projects they knew wouldn't happen. before getting into ~the church game,~ the guys running the event space made $$$ helping “banks, lending companies, & lawyers” execute foreclosures during the housing crisis; from complaints online, it looks like they screwed workers over in the process.
a group of us started going to RPC thinking we could make it better, because in presbyterian churches, members vote on church leadership... but now the tiny session at RPC has changed their policies to make it harder to join the church, underscoring how little they care about appealing to community members if they can keep pocketing room fees. RPC church leadership has also told community members they plan to evict the older adult center that has operated out of their 1st floor for 49 years.
original note was to "come to the ridgewood presbyterian church (59-14 70th ave) sundays at 10:30am; you can go in to the service or hang on the steps w/ me (i'll ask u to help w/ some ~activist~ project :D), & after we'll relocate to a nearby apartment (prolly selendis's or paul & e's). indicate interest here, or just show up!" –– tho i've been less consistent since brian locked a few of us out in october ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
short-term: church is less likely to evict the older adult center if people are watching!
longer-term: in presbyterian churches, members elect their leadership (the "session"). if we consistently go to church, we can become members, attain voting power, & more convincingly ~encourage~ the space to open its doors & live up to its potential. we aren't "displacing" anyone because almost no one attends (in the last several months, 1 regular member who isn't paid to be there, plus the pastor, pianist, & 2 managing rental space) –– & the church should *want & welcome* people attending services, using the space, & joining as members!
...that said, vicki recently told me they've changed their policies to make it *harder* to become a member (!!!), & dan & brian have been very open about their opposition... but even if they don't let us join, our rpc undercommons church is still a great way to build the habit of regularly meeting for community work, spending consistent time with people that's not for "job" or "shows."
what could we do at church???
wow GREAT QUESTION; the possibilities are endless tbh??? but we could start brainstorming by taking a few pages from <insert youth pastor voice> that Charming Radical Church [Supposedly] Likes... Jesús!! :D
• church has a huge industrial kitchen; this seems ideal for a food not bombs collab or other food distribution sitch??
• church leadership has applied for grants & solicited donations for a 19-bed shelter –– & while dan told me that there are no actual plans for this, doesn't it seem like a great idea???
• a church seems like a great place to host co-working for incarcerated ppl, like the prison library support network's reference project!
• what if there were tenant rights awareness events encouraging people to request their rent history, organize tenant associations with their neighbors, or learn how to file rent overcharge complaints??
• it's a BIG space & we had beautiful events there for a while (see way below); it would be awesome if church provided free practice space thru monthly local artist residencies, or resumed hosting events curated by & featuring marginalized artists &/or raising funds for great causes... ideally without wild room fees or prohibitive insurance requirements!!
...ooh update occasional FREE PRACTICE SPACE is now happening! (i know church leadership check this page, so a quick THANKS!! :D) here's the sign-up for free saturday practice space; if you don't see anything free, bookmark it & check back (they seem to open/close dates frequently), & circulate to other locals!!
who's there & who's [in] trouble
in the last ~2 years, church leadership was largely taken over by dan d. & brian c. (fyi wld be a true waste to sue me, i have so much debt & no savings lol), whose past experience includes making hundreds of thousands of dollars helping “banks, lending companies, and lawyers” execute foreclosures during the housing crisis. now they solicit donations for homeless-support entities that appear to be inactive: these include cross street community church, a church-within-the-church that seeks donations & grants (search "cross street") for an imaginary shelter; the presbyterian network to end homelessness, a nonprofit which appears to have lost exempt status for failing to file taxes; & now stone circle theatre, the nonprofit under which they book events. (as of fall '22, dan says SCT has a 5-year lease, making them managing agent for all rental spaces located at the church. +++ summer '23 they took down a number of their websites; i've updated links to archived versions or pdfs.)
the church's primary pastor is victoria moss; tbh i don't know much about vicki, except that she fosters a sweet rescue dog named butters (who sometimes comes to church), & she actually did try to start an emergency bed program for homeless seniors in 2017. (vicki, that was a great idea; we would love to help!!!)
2 of the church's most significant community partnerships are with the ridgewood older adult center & the gamelan dharma swara. re: the former, church leadership has told community members they plan to evict the older adult center that's been there for 49 years; here's the "space for lease" 1-sheet dan was distributing as recently as june 2023. (the ROAC didn't seem to know anything about this, but said "the center will do all it can to remain at this location.") the gamelan ensemble residency was arranged by another person who left the church after months of unpaid labor and promises that he would be hired; the two of us worked to convince church leadership that the ensemble's presence would be free press, though their original plan was to jack up costs after 6 months. (hopefully that doesn't happen; everyone luvs the gamelan crew!!)
the congregation is *very* small. some of the few members who regularly showed in 2022 spoke about their disappointment that church leadership doesn't put more effort into outreach, checking in on congregants, or encouraging attendance; the "official" membership has only gotten smaller since.
money-soliciting entities @ 59-14 70th Avenue, Ridgewood, Queens, NY // it appears several of these sites were taken down recently (est. summer '23, since i started sharing these links more widely); for pages i can't currently open, i've linked to the wayback machine's last "archived" snapshot!
• Cross Street Community Church of NYC [archived]
–– Church; Dan is "Founder/Community Leader" [archived] & "Senior Clergy" (2023)
–– solicits grants & donations for an imaginary homeless shelter, including $14.2k grant for "serving those who are houseless in NYC" (2021)
–– "Sanctuary (Under Development) [archived]: Providing hospitality to the youth and young persons who are currently facing houselessness" (2022)
• Stone Circle Theatre
–– Nonprofit; Brian is "President"; Dan is "Co-Director of Operations," "Treasurer," & filer (2023)
–– the other business connected to that filing page, Searchlight Abstract, is the company dan & brian ran during their brief window of business success: helping "banks, lending companies, and lawyers" kick people out of their homes during the housing crisis (2007).
–– theticketing.co event page (2023)
• The Presbyterian Network to End Homelessness [archived]
–– Nonprofit (?); Dan is "National Organizer" [archived]; c/o Cross Street(2023) [archived]
–– GuideStar Profile | pdf // "This organization's exempt status was automatically revoked by the IRS for failure to file a Form 990, 990-EZ, 990-N, or 990-PF for 3 consecutive years. Further investigation and due diligence are warranted." (2022)
• The Ridgewood Presbyterian Church [archived]
–– Church; Dan is "Parish Associate for Community Engagement" (2023)
–– abandoned plans: "Ridgewood church aims to open ‘emergency bed’ program for local homeless seniors" (2017)
UPDATE: as of late 2022, it looks like i won't be able to continue booking or coordinating bookings at the church. i'll eventually explain further, but tl;dr: i recommend caution for those choosing to work with "stone circle theatre" at the ridgewood presbyterian church.
(i'm the 2nd person in a row to pay out of pocket + program gigs for them for free, for months, before being told they'd changed their mind about prior agreements; hopefully u aren't as much of a sucker as us! 🙃)
note on those playing the church: i have no problems with those booking / playing the church; they aren't responsible for the church's practices, & those of us axed worked to establish some of those connections... but plz check the below & know who you're working with!
note to church: (since dan mentioned checking this page) i would love to be proven wrong about the [money soliciting entities section], & will happily take this down (& even resume volunteering!) if anything changes enough to warrant updates. in the meantime, happy pre-easter temple cleansing! :D
some 2022 shows
lookin for VOLUNTEERS (especially in RIDGEWOOD) to do door & sound [backline] & cleanup / setup / general ~helpins~ at some beautiful shows––& also to LITERALLY SHOW UP TO CHURCH (59-14 70th ave, sundays at 10:30am) so they can't kick us out!!! most of us will never be able to afford property in nyc––but if we show up to church on sundays, become members, & vote on leadership, we could transform a multi-million-dollar space into a center for activism & community––as kwami put it, "practice what THEY preach."
church has 2 flights of steps to entry: 1 flight outside, 1 flight inside, additional couple of steps to restroom.
• 6pm: Black Science Fiction presents: Organic Sounds of the Black Mind (led by Matthew Jamal), keiyaA, Boomscat, Aquiles Navarro, Davia Spain, Sounds by Bryce @ ridgewood presbyterian church, 59-14 70th ave, ridgewood, queens // curator: imani n. dennison (aka the heart o' black science fiction) // sound: mike nowotarski
• 7pm: NYC NOISE & FRIENDS PRESENT: Julia Santoli (w/ Tamio Shiraishi), azumi O E & Tim Dahl, C. Spencer Yeh, M. Lamar @ ridgewood presbyterian church (all ages), 59-14 70th ave, ridgewood, queens // $15 via paypal or venmo w/ note "7/17 ticket for [your name]" // curator: me! :D idk why i said "& friends," sometimes i just feel weird about my self i guess ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ // sound: mike nowotarski
• 7pm-11pm: NYC Noise x Tripticks Tapes present: Matteo Liberatore (Record Release), Nat Baldwin / Stella Silbert / Webb Crawford, Johann Diedrick & Temar France, Nava Dunkelman & Chuck Bettis, Kirin McElwain (fb) @ ridgewood presbyterian church (all ages), 59-14 70th ave, ridgewood, queens // $15 via paypal or venmo w/ note "8/13 ticket for [your name]" // curators: nat baldwin (aka the heart o' tripticks tapes) & me! :D // sound: s¡an (aka how i quit ketamine)
• 7pm: PTP presents: Among the Rocks and Roots, HARDCOREBAE, Protect the Peace Quartet (Dis Fig, Dreamcrusher, King Vision Ultra, Tcheser Holmes), Swaya, LOKA (DJ) @ ridgewood presbyterian church (all ages), 59-14 70th ave, ridgewood, queens // curator: GENG (aka the heart o' PTP) // sound: jefferson (aka BSTFRND)
• 7pm: Mesma & Legitime present: More Eaze, Ohyung, Omar Ahmad, The Poet Engineer (Visuals) @ ridgewood presbyterian church (all ages), 59-14 70th ave, ridgewood, queens // curators: gabriel mester (aka the heart o' mesma records) & matthieu astruc (aka the heart o' legitime) // live projections: the poet engineer // art installation: sarah philouze // sound: izzi stevenson
• 7pm: Mercury Symbol x NYC Noise present A Night of Ecstatic Sound: Evicshen, Centennial Gardens, Jadelain, Mercury Symbol, Nullobite, Polly Urethane (fb) @ ridgewood presbyterian church (all ages), 59-14 70th ave, ridgewood, queens // curators: adonis (aka mercury symbol) (with… me! :D) // sound: s¡an (aka how i quit ketamine)
• 7pm: Center For Psychic Technology presents: Sweater On Polo, Haitlin, Skinkitten, DOGHATESNOISE @ [stone circle theatre at the] ridgewood presby church (all ages), 59-14 70th ave, ridgewood, queens // curation *&* sound!: john pugh (aka center for psychic technology)
• 7pm: Relative Pitch Records x NYC Noise present: Sakina Abdou, Nava Dunkelman, Michael Foster / Joe Moffett / Eli Wallace, Tamio Shiraishi & Marie Carroll (fb) @ [stone circle theatre at the] ridgewood presby church (all ages), 59-14 70th ave, ridgewood, queens // TICKETS // curators: kevin reilly (aka the heart o' relative pitch records!) & me! :D //
• 7pm: Chris Cochrane / John Thayer (Album Release; w/ Nick Jozwiak, Anthony Coleman), God Is My Co-Pilot (ft. Sandy Ewen), Aliya Ultan & Drew Wesely@ [stone circle theatre at the] ridgewood presby church (all ages), 59-14 70th ave, ridgewood, queens // godco = Normandy Sherwood, Craig Flanagin, Jason Blackkat, Kevin Shea // TICKETS // "unforeseeable circumstances" = the decade's big lol; ALWAYS COVID, FAM // feel better, chris!!
• 7pm-10pm: Henry Fraser, Lester St. Louis (fb) @ [stone circle theatre at the] ridgewood presby church (all ages), 59-14 70th ave, ridgewood, queens // TICKETS // sound: gavilán rayna russom, aka the heart of voluminous arts!
• 7pm-10pm: Guðmundur Steinn Gunnarsson & the USA Clangers (w/ Jonathan Pfeffer, Liz Meredith, Shayna Dunkelman), Madison Greenstone, Kwami Winfield @ [stone circle theatre at the] ridgewood presby church (all ages), 59-14 70th ave, ridgewood, queens // TICKETS