Arts at Old First: Cara Wall, "The Dearly Beloved," with Rev. William H. Critzman

September 11, 2019, 7:30 PM

Old First Reformed Church
729 Carroll St
Brooklyn, NY 11215

Cara Wall presents The Dearly Beloved with Rev. William H. Critzman

Arts at Old First is honored to host beloved teacher and Brooklyn neighbor Cara Wall to present her debut novel The Dearly Beloved, called "a rare and intellectually stimulating outing" by Publishers Weekly. The novel follows two young married couples whose lives become intertwined when each husband is appointed to co-minister a venerable New York City church in the 1960s.

Wall is joined onstage by her friend Reverend William H. Critzman, the first openly LGBTQ Senior Minister of the nearly 400-year old West End Collegiate Church on Manhattans Upper West Side. Join us for a conversation about this intimate story of love and friendship, compassion and piety, as part of Old First's ongoing literary series on art and faith. Audience Q&A and book signing to follow.

Seating is limited; RSVP required. A wine reception follows the event. Books offered for sale by Community Bookstore. A portion of all book and ticket sales benefits the Old First Restoration Fund.

Please note: online ticket sales end at 3:00 PM on August 24, but additional tickets are available at the door.


This wonderful book has all the things that are hardest to find in literature: good marriages sustained by abiding love; nourishing friendships that endure trials; nuanced explorations of religious faith; and characters who strive to do good for others while battling their own demons. What it has, in short, is that hardest-won of qualities in a novel: genuine goodness.
MATTHEW THOMAS, New York Times Bestselling Author of "We Are Not Ourselves"

When I began reading The Dearly Beloved I braced for piety, worried it might be a book only a believer could appreciate. Instead, I found myself carried along by Cara Walls luminous prose, and then by these characters and their stories. I saw myself in their doubts, in their hopes. There is no moralizing here, only empathy. When I arrived at the end I felt absolutely lifted by the spirit of the story.
MARY BETH KEANE, New York Times Bestselling Author of "Ask Again, Yes"

I am not a Christian not a religious person in any way, yet the explorations of faith in The Dearly Beloved speak to me on levels of extraordinary emotional depth, and with gut-wrenching meaning. I will cherish this book for a long, long time.
THISBE NISSEN, Author of "The Good People of New York"

Cara Wall is a graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop and Stanford University. While at Iowa, Cara taught fiction writing in the undergraduate creative writing department as well as at the Iowa Young Writers Studio in her capacity of founder and inaugural director. She went on to teach middle school English and History, and has been published by Glamour, Salon, and The San Francisco Chronicle. She lives in New York City with her family.

The Rev. William H. Critzman, a United Church of Christ Minister, has been called as the 58thSenior Minister of The Collegiate Reformed Church in the City of New York and settled as the 6th Minister-in-Charge of West End Collegiate Church on Manhattans Upper West Side. Rev. Critzman is the first openly LGBTQ Senior Minister of the nearly 400-year old Collegiate Church. Rev. Critzman joins West End after six years in ministry at The First Presbyterian Church in the City of New York, where he most recently served as the Minister of Discipleship. Before entering ministry, Will was a theatre producer, fundraiser, and arts executive working in London, San Francisco, and New York. Will attended Wagner College, Cornell University, and holds an M.Div. from Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York, where he was awarded the Jonathan Kneeland Award for Excellence in Preaching. In addition to his work in ministry, Will continues post-graduate clinical training in psychoanalysis at the National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis (NPAP). Will lives in the East Village with his partner Patrick Willingham and their two dogs, Pink and Mr. Hazel.

Arts at Old First carries out Old First's mission to offer hospitality to creative and art-minded community groups. This includes the annual Brooklyn Bluegrass Bash, the annual Park Slope Messiah Sing-along, and various other events supporting the visual, literary, and musical arts. Arts at Old First events benefit the Old First Restoration Fund.

Old First Reformed Church, founded in 1654, is a diverse, open, and supportive church community that welcomes persons of every ethnicity, race, and orientation to worship, serve, and love God, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Its 200 members and adherents are from all walks of life and reflect a diversity of backgrounds.

Old First's main sanctuary had been closed since 2011 when plaster fell from the ceiling, revealing wear in the 19th century structure. Listed on the National Register of Historic Place and a hub for community events in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn, the building is undergoing a multi-million dollar restoration project, supported by grants as well as community contributions. More at