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Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church - National Fund For Sacred Places
2020 Cohort

Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church

Brooklyn, New York

Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church (LAPC) in Brooklyn, New York, has been a leader in social activism for over 160 years, prominently participating in the temperance, suffrage, labor rights, and LGBTQ rights movements, among others.

Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church by Deborah Howard

Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church by Deborah Howard

2020 Cohort

Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church

Brooklyn, New York

Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church (LAPC) in Brooklyn, New York, has been a leader in social activism for over 160 years, prominently participating in the temperance, suffrage, labor rights, and LGBTQ rights movements, among others.

The congregation was founded in 1857 by abolitionists who recruited Rev. Theodore Cuyler as pastor by promising to build a new church. This church, designed in the Romanesque Revival style by architecture firm Grimshaw & Morrill, was completed in 1852, with stained-glass windows added later. Cuyler’s reach spread well beyond LAPC, writing weekly columns read by prominent figures such as Abraham Lincoln, Charles Dickens, and Mark Twain. Notably, Cuyler invited people of color, including Booker T. Washington and Frederick Douglass, and women, including evangelist Sarah Smiley, to preach at LAPC.  

LAPC’s tradition of social activism lives on today. The congregation works collaboratively with the community to advocate for immigrant rights, living wages, and prison reform. The Audre Lorde Project, a community organizing center for LGBTQ people of color, has met at LAPC since 1996. Irondale, a theater company that comments on social and economic justice issues through performance, found its home in LAPC’s double height Sunday school space in 2008. LAPC embodies the idea of a church as a community space, as seen in the sanctuary with Hank Prussing’s 1978 mural featuring candid photographs of people in the neighborhood.

With a $250,000 National Fund grant and $500,000 in matching funds raised by the congregation, LAPC will make progress in completing a 23-year project to restore the building’s envelope. Work will include restoring and cleaning the brownstone facade and study tower to prevent further water penetration and repairing the 1893 Tiffany-designed stained-glass triptych in the sanctuary.

Historic Houses of Worship as Advocates for LGBTQ Rights & Inclusion

Houses of worship may not be the first places that come to mind when thinking about institutions that uplifted lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people, as many LGBTQ individuals across the nation and the world have faced discrimination as a result of the policies of organized religions. Although discrimination against this community has not been extinguished from religious institutions, an increasing number of religious groups in the United States have taken firm steps towards welcoming and advocating for the rights of the LGBTQ community.

Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church by Deborah Howard

Stories and Media Coverage

Read more about how the National Fund for Sacred Places is helping congregations around the country rehabilitate their sacred places.

Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church by Luis P. Gutierrez