From Rev. Heather Shortlidge

Dear Friends,

Join us for worship this Sunday January 24th at 10:00am on Zoom. I’m preaching from Mark 1:14-20, in which Jesus calls the disciples to repent and believe, for the kin-dom of God has come near. Immediately following worship, you won’t want to miss an update from the Pastoral Nominating Committee (PNC) and a deeper look at the results of the congregational study (CAT) that was completed in fall 2020.

Join us on Zoom at 10:00am
Dial-in: 1-929-436-2866 Meeting ID: 150 620 342

A prayer from Howard Thurman, African American theologian and civil rights leader to nourish your spirit this week:

I Need You

I need your sense of time.
Always I have an underlying anxiety about things.
Sometimes I am in a hurry to achieve my ends
and am completely without patience.
It is hard for me to realize that some growth is slow;
that all processes are not swift.
I cannot always discriminate between
what takes time to develop and what can be rushed,
because my sense of time is dulled.
I measure things in terms of happenings.
O to understand the meaning of perspective
that I may do all things
with a profound sense of leisure of time.

I need your sense of order.
The confusion of the details of living is sometimes overwhelming.
The little things keep getting in my way
providing ready-made excuses for failure
to do and be what I know I ought to do and be.
Much time is spent on things that are not very important
while significant things are put into an insignificant place in my scheme of order.
I must unscramble my affairs
so that my life will become order.

I need your sense of the future.
Teach me to know that life is ever on the side of the future.
Keep alive in me the forward look,
the high hope, the onward surge.
Let me be not frozen either by the past or the present.
Grant me your sense of the future,
without which all life would sicken and die.

Peace and Courage,


Radcliffe Room Continues Despite Security Obstacles

Despite downtown blockades and security fences bisecting our church’s building, the Radcliffe Room team continued to provide food and companionship to our neighbors experiencing homelessness on Sunday.

Security allowed Radcliffe Room leaders access to the New York Avenue door, just inside the city’s red zone. This made it possible to serve lunch and open the clothing closet to over 40 people. Thanks to all our volunteers for their perseverance!

From Rev. Heather Shortlidge

Dear Members and Friends,

Join us this Sunday January 17th at 10:00am for worship—our weekly ritual of coming together, attuning our ears, bolstering our spirits, and remembering our call as people of faith. I’m preaching from Mark 12:41-44, the story of the widow’s small gift to the treasury and how so often we ask those with the least to give up the most. The liturgy and prayers will be in honor of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., including a stunning choral anthem that intersperses songs and readings, written by U2’s Bono.

Join us on Zoom at 10:00am
Dial-in: 1-929-436-2866 Meeting ID: 150 620 342

It is an anxious time in our city, as security significantly tightens in the downtown area. In order to keep our staff, volunteers, and guests as safe as possible, the Trustees have decided to close the building from today through next Thursday, January 21st. The Downtown Day Services Center will also close next Monday through Wednesday. As of today, the Radcliffe Room will operate on Sunday, however, plans are subject to change as the situation unfolds. If you have any questions about our building, please contact Facility Manager, Elias Bazezew ( With prayer and discernment, the Session has also made the difficult decision to not provide hospitality on the day of the inauguration. Read their detailed statement here.

Finally, a heartfelt thanks to Pastor Rachel for holding down the fort, so that I could finish out my vacation last week. It’s never easy to juggle all the things when the Head of Staff is away, essentially doing two jobs at once, but last week was particularly challenging. Rachel’s leadership and pastoral care are a gift and I am grateful to have her as a colleague. In order that she might rest and process last week’s events, she will be off this weekend.

I leave you with Dr. King’s own words to the white moderate, an excerpt from “Letter From Birmingham Jail.”

I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizens Councilor or the Ku Klux Klanner but the white moderate who is more devoted to order than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says, “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically feels that he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time; and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection…

…You spoke of our activity in Birmingham as extreme. At first I was rather disappointed that fellow clergymen would see my nonviolent efforts as those of an extremist… But as I continued to think about the matter, I gradually gained a bit of satisfaction from being considered an extremist. Was not Jesus an extremist in love? — “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, pray for them that despitefully use you.” Was not Amos an extremist for justice? — “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.” Was not Paul an extremist for the gospel of Jesus Christ? — “I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” Was not Martin Luther an extremist? — “Here I stand; I can do no other so help me God.” Was not John Bunyan an extremist? — “I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a mockery of my conscience.” Was not Abraham Lincoln an extremist? — “This nation cannot survive half slave and half free.” Was not Thomas Jefferson an extremist? — “We hold these truths to be self- evident, that all men are created equal.” So the question is not whether we will be extremist, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate, or will we be extremists for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice, or will we be extremists for the cause of justice?

I had hoped that the white moderate would see this. Maybe I was too optimistic. Maybe I expected too much. I guess I should have realized that few members of a race that has oppressed another race can understand or appreciate the deep groans and passionate yearnings of those that have been oppressed, and still fewer have the vision to see that injustice must be rooted out by strong, persistent, and determined action. I am thankful, however, that some of our white brothers have grasped the meaning of this social revolution and committed themselves to it. They are still all too small in quantity, but they are big in quality. Some, like Ralph McGill, Lillian Smith, Harry Golden, and James Dabbs, have written about our struggle in eloquent, prophetic, and understanding terms. Others have marched with us down nameless streets of the South. They sat in with us at lunch counters and rode in with us on the freedom rides. They have languished in filthy roach-infested jails, suffering the abuse and brutality of angry policemen who see them as “dirty nigger lovers.” They, unlike many of their moderate brothers, have recognized the urgency of the moment and sensed the need for powerful “action” antidotes to combat the disease of segregation.

Peace and Courage,


Former Community Club Students Join NYA Foundation

by Tom Karr, Member, Board of Directors, NYAEF

The New York Avenue Educational Foundation has elected two former Community Club students – Natasha Dupee and Khufu Edwards – to its Board of Directors.

Natasha, who earned her B.A. from GWU in 2012 and her M.Ed. from U-Missouri-St. Louis in 2014, is Senior Disabilities Services Associate at GWU, and was just elected as an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner for her Southeast D.C. neighborhood. Khufu is a 2019 graduate of West Virginia University, where he had a double major in Finance and Management, and is an Investment Analyst at PGIM Real Estate. Both participated in Community Club while attending the School Without Walls in D.C.

Since 1984, the foundation has supported Community Club and other organizations that tutor, mentor and empower students throughout Washington, D.C. Through its grants, it has helped more than 750 students from Community Club (its primary grantee) set a course for success in school and throughout life. For more about the NYAEF, please go to

Pastoral Letter – January 8, 2021

Dear Friends,

One Nation Under God – Stained Glass Window at The New York Avenue Presbyterian Church. Photo by Richard Snyder.

Our faith follows a God who was born into this messy world and walked with us in it, not holding back, but digging right into the messiness. We follow Jesus Christ, who knows what a mob is capable of doing and died from political violence.

The violence we saw this week at the Capitol was white supremacy in action. Jesus showed a radical way of celebrating all people, pointing out oppressive practices and naming all equal as children of God.

We have seen the president sow false mistrust and anger in our democratic systems, leading to sedition. Jesus spoke truth and exhibited righteous anger over real corruption. We are suffering the growing consequences of a pandemic not taken seriously by many of our neighbors. Jesus healed people and inspired them to share what they have with one another.

What we saw this week was people following the way of the world, the way of the empire. Our faith shows us the way of Jesus: the way of love, peace, community, and justice.

As people of faith, we gather for worship each week to remember these things. We gather to learn and remind one another who God is. We gather to be strengthened, to pray, and to proclaim our faith. We speak God’s truth and discern how we are called to live and act. We will gather again this Sunday to do just this. Let us join our voices together in lament and confession, in hope and courage, in love and grace. Let us proclaim that hate will not stand, for the love of God and the power of the Spirit has and will overcome it.

This Sunday, we remember the baptism of Jesus and our own baptismal call. Rev. Alex McNeill, one of our Presbyterian leaders and prophets, is preaching. Alex lived in the DC area for many years and laments the violence at the Capitol with us.

Join us on Zoom at 10:00am
Dial-in: 1-929-436-2866 Meeting ID: 150 620 342

Friends, keep those in our congregation in prayer. Many of our members work in Congress or are closely connected with it. To our knowledge, all are safe and saddened by this week’s events.

Your pastors are available to reflect and pray with you. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me or to Heather. As a community, we will bind one another up in care and support as we continue joining God’s work in the world.

May you be filled with the peace of Christ and the righteous anger of Christ, which are bound together in the kingdom and kin-dom of God.

In faith,


(Image: “One Nation Under God” Stained Glass Window at The New York Avenue Presbyterian Church.)

Epiphany Sunday – From Rev. Rachel Pacheco

Dear Friends,

I hope you have had the opportunity to rest and enjoy this holiday season. This Sunday is Epiphany Sunday and I will be preaching. One of our Parish Associates, Rev. Matthew Schlageter, will join the worship team this week. Heather is on vacation next week and will return on Tuesday, January 12.

The music this week celebrates this holiday of the joyous journey to celebrate the birth in Bethlehem. Carols within the service include “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” sung by the sanctuary choir with brass and organ, plus the familiar “We Three Kings” and others.

Join us on Zoom at 10:00am
Dial-in: 1-929-436-2866 Meeting ID: 150 620 342

May this transition to a new calendar year offer you moments for reflection and renewal. See you Sunday.


Christmas Letter from Rev. Heather Shortlidge

Dear Friends,

During this sacred season, it’s hard to not focus on all the things we cannot do—gather inside the sanctuary, feel the vibration of a festive organ prelude, sing together side by side, stand in line to take bread and wine, and hug and mingle after the service, watching kids race between the pews.

I’ve only had the privilege of spending one Christmas Eve in your midst, but I’m already missing those things, longing for the day when we can come together again, not bound by physical distancing rules.

And yet, like Mary and Joseph, who needed a landing place to birth a child, we work with what we have.

On Thursday evening at 5:30pm, we’ll gather on Zoom, where we can still see one another face to face, experience beautiful Christmas tunes, break bread together, light candles to shine light in the darkness, and linger afterwards with new and old friends. Our worship team has literally been working around the clock to curate meaning and beauty for Christmas Eve. We do hope that you will join us and invite others to as well.

Join us on Zoom at 5:30pm
Dial-in: 1-929-436-2866 Meeting ID: 817 4664 4053

Wherever you may be this week of Christ’s birth, stay safe, wear your mask, avoid large gatherings, and reach out if you need love or extra support.

And an Advent Credo from Allan Boesak, to nourish and challenge you this week:

It is not true that creation and the human family
are doomed to destruction and loss—
This is true: For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life;

It is not true that we must accept inhumanity and discrimination,
hunger and poverty, death and destruction—
This is true: I have come that they may have life, and that abundantly.

It is not true that violence and hatred should have the last word,
and that war and destruction rule forever—
This is true: Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, his name shall be called wonderful councilor, mighty God, the Everlasting, the Prince of peace.

It is not true that we are simply victims of the powers of evil
who seek to rule the world—
This is true: To me is given authority in heaven and on earth, and lo I am with you, even until the end of the world.

It is not true that we have to wait for those who are specially gifted,
who are the prophets of the Church before we can be peacemakers—
This is true: I will pour out my spirit on all flesh and your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions and your old men shall have dreams.

It is not true that our hopes for liberation of humankind, of justice,
of human dignity of peace are not meant for this earth and for this history—
This is true: The hour comes, and it is now, that the true worshipers shall worship God in spirit and in truth.

So let us enter Advent in hope, even hope against hope. Let us see visions of love and peace and justice. Let us affirm with humility, with joy, with faith, with courage: Jesus Christ—the life of the world.

Walking on Thorns, by Allan Boesak, Eerdmans, 2004.

Peace and Courage,


Warming Center Opening at NYAPC

by Jim Spearman

On behalf of the Trustees, I’m delighted to share that, in keeping with our strategic plan core value of radical hospitality, we’ve agreed to host a new Warming Center in the Radcliffe Room. 

The Warming Center is intended to provide respite from cold winter weather for a maximum of 30 people at one time.  It will operate Monday to Friday, 8:30-5:00pm, Monday through Friday, starting this weekend and ending 31 March 2020. 

The Warming Center is a project of the Downtown Day Services Center, and it is part of a citywide effort by the Mayor to be announced this Friday.  It will be managed by Day Services Center personnel. The Downtown Business Improvement District (BID) is paying a reasonable rent to cover NYAPC direct costs.

Radcliffe Room Ministry activities on Sundays will not be interrupted. Clothing closet overflow on the stage has been moved temporarily until it can be configured to moveable racks stored in the actual closet during the week.

This opportunity to use our building in a new way arose just recently. Please join me in thanking Trustees and staff, particularly outgoing Facilities Manager John O’Brien, for successfully responding to this opportunity to engage with this mission.

From Rev. Heather Shortlidge

Dear Friends,

Don’t miss worship this Sunday, December 20th at 10:00am. We will celebrate the season with a special Service of Lessons and Carols, lifting up the Advent story in word and song, heralded by carols with the NYAPC Sanctuary Choir, soloists, and festive brass/organ music. Special thanks to Will Timmons, Audio Video Production Coordinator, for helping organize the brass group from the US Military Bands as well as an extensive 4-camera video shoot that has been edited into special holiday anthems for the day. Following worship, we will celebrate the retirement of John O’Brien, our Interim Facility Manager.

Join us on Zoom at 10:00am
Dial-in: 1-929-436-2866 Meeting ID: 150620342

And in keeping with our core value of radical hospitality, the church has entered into an agreement with the city to serve as a warming center. During regular day time hours (8:30am-5:00pm), the Downtown DC BID will be using our Radcliffe Room in order to provide respite from cold winter weather. This agreement was signed by our Trustees and is in place between now and March 31st. This week day warming center will not interrupt our regular Sunday Radcliffe Room Ministry.

A poem to nourish your spirit this week:

On the Mystery of the Incarnation

It’s when we face for a moment
the worst our kind can do, and shudder to know
the taint in our own selves, that awe
cracks the mind’s shell and enters the heart:
not to a flower, not to a dolphin,
to no innocent form
but to this creature vainly sure
it and no other is god-like, God
(out of compassion for our ugly
failure to evolve) entrusts,
as guest, as brother,
the Word.

—Denise Levertov (1923–1997)

Hope to see you on Sunday,


Christmas Flower Dedications

To celebrate the birth of Christ, the Diaconal Ministers organize poinsettias for our sanctuary. The flowers are paid for by donors who request dedications in honor or memory of loved ones. While the sanctuary will remain empty this Christmas, you may still request a dedication this Christmas season.

Christmas Poinsettias in the Sanctuary. This year, Christmas flower dedications will support sending flower arrangements to members each week.

Your donation will help sustain the Flower Fund, which is currently being used to deliver flowers to members of the congregation every week until the sanctuary re-opens for worship services. The delivery of the three small arrangements costs the same as two large arrangements for our sanctuary.

This year’s dedications will be listed on the screen before the worship service on the Sundays before and after Epiphany, January 3 and January 10.

To dedicate your contribution, copy the form below into an email, complete it with your information, and email it to, or call Gwenn at 202-213-1657.

Name of Donor(s):
Phone or email:
A contribution is intended of $
In Memory of:
In Honor of:

Please send your contributions to the church online and select the Flower Fund. If you wish to send a check, please write “Flower Fund” on the memo line.

Any amount is welcome. The deadline is Sunday, Dec. 27, at 5pm.