Monday, January 29, 2007

Brooklyn Troop 20, Country's Oldest, to Observe Scout Sunday in Bensonhurst


Brooklyn Troop 20, Country's Oldest, to Observe Scout Sunday in Bensonhurst

Robert M. Gates, Robert Buonvino (to his left) and Eagle Scouts from Brooklyn at a ceremony in Manhattan.

BROOKLYN - The Brooklyn-based Boy Scout Troop 20, the oldest BSA troop in the country, will observe its 97th birthday Feb. 11 at the New Utrecht Reformed Church in Bensonhurst. The church, within the Reformed Church in America (RCA), has a long history of its own, dating back to 1677.

"Troop 20 is the oldest continuously chartered and sponsored Boy Scout unit in the country," according to Robert Buonvino, the scouting coordinator for the church, and president of the Friends of Historic New Utrecht. The troop was formed on Jan. 10, 1910, and received its charter from the national Boy Scouts organization in March of that year, Mr. Buonvino says. Fifteen boys were registered at that time, he adds, and the troop's first scoutmaster was James R. Adsit.

Robert Buonvino presents Robert M. Gates with
Brooklyn chapter of National Eagle Scout Association pin during a
ceremony attended by Eagle Scouts, all from Brooklyn, in Manhattan.

When the troop was begun at the church, Mr. Buonvino says, the New Utrecht pastor was the Rev. O.E. Fisher. Currently, the New Utrecht minister is the Rev. Terry Troia, who also is executive director of Project Hospitality, an organization based on Staten Island that assists the needy. Rev. Troia will conduct the Feb. 11 Sunday service beginning at 11 a.m.

"This is a time we remember those who have made contributions to the community and now have passed on," Mr. Buonvino said. "Troop 20 has always served the community." Since its founding the troop has had 25 scoutmasters, he said.

The historian also notes that the Scouts served the nation during World Wars I and II, selling war bonds, preparing food baskets and engaging in coastal patrols. Many scouts joined the military over the years. "We lost our scoutmaster who was killed in World War II in Germany, and the assistant scoutmaster also was shot down in Europe," he said.

"Based on records we have found, Troop 20 has had more than 25 Eagle Scouts," Mr. Buonvino continued. He told of establishing the Brooklyn chapter of the National Eagle Scout Association (NESA). On Nov. 16, he presented the Brooklyn NESA pin to Robert M. Gates at a ceremony in Manhattan just before Dr. Gates was confirmed to be Secretary of Defense. He also was inducted into the Greater New York Council Eagle Scout Hall of Fame.

Among others who have received the Brooklyn pin, showing an eagle and the Brooklyn Bridge, are Ross Perot and Michael R. Bloomberg, before he became mayor of New York City.

Refreshments will be served after the Sunday service as Troop 20 alumni visit the troop's scout room, with its many photos and memorabilia, in the basement of the New Utrecht Parish House. The service will be held in the Parish House while the nearby sanctuary, in use since 1828, undergoes a $2 million repair and renovation.

More information on the history of New Utrecht, Brooklyn's earliest years, is available at and by calling (718) 256-7173.


PR services donated by bhprEspeciallyforChurches January 2007

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Notice of Election

On January 21st the congregation elected the following to terms of office: Michelle Paradies, two years as deacon, ending 2009. The installation will take place on Sunday, February 25th, 2007.

Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C

Thursday, January 18, 2007

George Washington event rescheduled for March 1

We recently informed you about our George Washington presentation at New Utrecht High School and the New Utrecht Reformed Church Parish House, originally planned for Tuesday, February 13th. However, teachers at several public schools advised us that they could not participate because buses for field trips would not be available on that day. Accordingly, we have rescheduled the event to Thursday, March 1. The event at New Utrecht High School will take place in the morning and afternoon; the event at the Parish House will take place at 8 PM. Please join us then.


Saturday, January 13, 2007

Jan. 21: Third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C

Monday, January 01, 2007

Brooklyn Bell Is Rung for Gerald Ford, As for All Presidents Since Washington


Brooklyn Bell Is Rung for Gerald Ford, As for All Presidents Since Washington
Much History 'Told' by the Sound of the Bell

BROOKLYN - For 30 months the old bell in the tower at the New Utrecht Reformed Church, in Bensonhurst, had been silent. Not since the death of Ronald Reagan had anyone climbed up through the scaffolding, dust and dirt to strike its side with a "funeral clanker." Not until Sunday morning, at precisely 10 o'clock, when again the bell in the historic Brooklyn landmark was heard.

Robert Buonvino, president of Friends of Historic New Utrecht, and Robert Tycenski, put on gloves and carried flashlights as they made the climb up into the tower which is so sorely in need of repair that the bell can only be rung in a very careful way. Underneath, the church sanctuary is undergoing a $2 million repair and restoration.

"We struck the bell 38 times, in honor of the 38th president, Gerald Ford," Mr. Buonvino said, "with a pause of 10 seconds between each strike." The bell has rung upon the death of every president since George Washington. "We took a chance going up there," he added, "but we did not want to break the tradition." It had last been rung on June 5, 2004.

The New Utrecht Reformed Church was founded in 1677. According to church records, the bell, which cost 786 guilders or $314.40, was brought over from Holland in 1701. At first, it was in New Utrecht's original, octagon-shaped church, several blocks from where the church stands today. It was recast to increase its size before it was installed in the tower of the new church building, at 18th Ave. and 84th St., in 1830.

"Much of the history of the United States has been 'told' by the sound of that bell," the historian said. Occasions of grief and celebrations he listed include:

- the death of Washington in 1799,
- the deaths of all American presidents since then,
- the end of wars, including the Civil War and World Wars I and II,
- the deaths of Cardinal Spellman, Frank Sinatra, Joe DiMaggio and Bob Hope.

After ringing the bell for former president Ford, Mr. Buonvino and Mr. Tycenski, a Friends member who also who serves as the surgical officer for the 14th Brooklyn Regiment, Co. H, re-enactment organization, waited five minutes and then rang it one more time as a signal that 2007 will be observed as the 350th anniversary of establishment of the old town of New Utrecht.

As part of the observance, the historical group plans to pull together writings on the town's earliest years, drawing upon the records of Mr. Teunis G. Bergen in the 1800s, Mr. Nicasius de Sille's account of the years from 1657 to 1660 and archives of the New Utrecht church which are now in storage, some of them at the New Brunswick (NJ) Theological Seminary. The church is in the mainline Reformed Church in America (RCA).

"Our objective is to provide a detailed, accurate report that we can publish in print and perhaps on the Internet," Mr. Buonvino said. He said a book by Mrs. Bleecker Bangs, written in 1911, contains some inaccuracies. This will be a "big but important educational undertaking" for school students and anyone interested in the earliest history of Brooklyn, Mr. Buonvino said. "The research will give us another tool as we expand our cultural-educational programs," the Friends president added.

Also on Sunday, the New Utrecht Friends raised a large flag on the "Liberty Pole" on the church lawn, and then lowered it to half-staff, in honor of the former president. The flag, which measures 15-by-18 feet, with its 50 stars, was hoisted to the "Liberty Eagle" that sits atop the pole, before it was brought part way down. The pole, the only remaining one of its type in the nation, is 106 feet high.

Persons interested in learning more about Brooklyn's early history are invited to call (718) 256-7173 or (718) 234-9268. They also may log onto the Friends of Historic New Utrecht's Web site at or send inquires to mail(at)

PR services donated by bhprEspeciallyForChurches January 1, 2007