Our Visionary Ancestors
Posted on October 20, 2014 by Sister Carol Perry

Every day I learn something new!

I always knew New York City was different from the rest of the country, but it took Robert Romagnoli to tell me why and how. I had slipped into his presentation on the history of Marble (for the 60s Plus Fellowship) and I was enthralled.

Of course, I vaguely remembered that the persecuted Puritans had headed for Massachusetts, the Quakers for Pennsylvania and the Catholics to Maryland, but somehow it had escaped me that New Amsterdam was not founded by the religiously oppressed. It was the Dutch East India Corporation, a trading organization with an eye to business profits. No one was excluded. All were welcome. Diversity was of the essence from the beginning.

So, if Marble is the heir of those Dutch worshippers who found their way to a grist mill in 1628, that heritage was continued when the present edifice was built in 1854. The church leaders chose to build where they believed the future might be – far uptown on 29th Street. They were dreamers and they were practical; practical, in erecting a fence to keep wandering livestock from nearby farms in their place and dreamers in building a steeple that would dominate the skyline for the owners of those same cows!

Religious liberty was assumed, since it existed in the mother country. I have always loved the concept of the mill ceasing to function on Sunday so that God could be acknowledged there where the flour for the daily bread was produced on the six other days. No image more clearly speaks of the spiritual and the ordinary woven together in seamless harmony.

Church and state had no need to be separated. Each had found its place in the unique colony where Marble is rooted. It is in realizations like this that the past becomes so much more than prelude. It becomes part of our genetic make-up!

Happy anniversary, Marble!

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Sister Carol Perry

A gifted teacher and resident bible scholar at Marble, Sister Carol uses her extensive scholarship and imaginative storytelling skills to offer a fresh and innovative approach to exploring the Scriptures, bringing the stories of the Bible to life.

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