Pastor Charged with Bigotry
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Pastor Charged with Bigotry

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The Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith has accused the Presbytery of New York City of failing to take action against one of its pastors for repeated “willful, undisguised bigotry.” The clergyman is the Rev. William Glenesk, pastor of the Village Presbyterian Church which, for 19 years, has shared worship facilities with the Brotherhood Synagogue.

Robert C. Kohler, director of the ADL New York regional office, said the ADL had discussions since last September with the Rev. James D. Watson, acting executive presbyter of the Presbytery, about the activities of Rev. Glenesk. Those activities led the Brotherhood Synagogue board to vote last November to end the agreement by which it had shared facilities with the church.

Kohler said that Rev. Watson had privately expressed concern but that “the Presbytery has not publicly indicated, by word or deed, its displeasure” with Rev. Glenesk. Since assuming the pastorate at the Village Church, Kohler said. Rev. Glenesk has repeatedly posted anti-Israel pro-Arab propaganda on the church bulletin board.


After Rabbi Irving Block posted a notice of a prayer for “victory and peace for Israel” after the start of the Yom Kippur War, Rev. Glenesk offered “regrets” in his church bulletin to “our friends, Arab, non-Zionist Jews and all who are offended by the arrogant, self-righteous sign” posted by the synagogue.

Kohler said Rev. Glenesk called “a symbol of arrogant piety” the Holy Ark installed 17 years ago by the Jewish congregation with the approval of both the church congregation and Rev. Glenesk’s predecessor, the late Rev. Jesse Stilt. Kohler also charged that Rev. Glenesk opposed erection of a succah by the synagogue. In a previous pastorate, Spencer Memorial Church in Brooklyn, Kohler said. Rev. Glenesk staged anti-Jewish “Passion Plays,” which forced the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue to vacate the shared premises.

Kohler said he had informed Rev. Watson that many members of Rev. Glenesk’s a congregation were distraught over his behavior, that the Presbytery’s “failure to act firmly has left them deserted and impotent” and that Glenesk had “caused a schism between Presbyterians and Jews and among his own congregants.” Kohler urged the Presbytery to “act promptly to resolve this regrettable situation.”

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