Building Projects Update

Last Sunday, Trustee Karl Hoffman shared a status update – with photos – on the HVAC installation, and other projects. He gave a visual tour of what’s been happening, including pew refinishing, solar panels, security lighting, and, of course, the new system that will heat and cool the first through fourth floors. (The fifth floor and basement levels already have updated heating/cooling systems.) You can see Karl’s full presentation here.

Karl began with responses to the questions many are asking:

Q: Will the HVAC project be completed in time for the October 24th return to in-person worship?​

A: Substantial completion (ie. system up and running) of the project is expected to be October 21st. Our contractor has reconfirmed that date this week, and we have confidence in their assessment​

Q: Are we on budget?​

A: Some Change Orders have added to the expense of the project, but we also had contingency dollars built into the budget. We expect to be in range of a couple of percent of the $3.5M total price tag.​

Then we got a virtual tour of all the work being done! Including the beautiful work done on refinishing the sanctuary pews.

And the solar panels on our roof:

And we got an idea of what some the new heating/cooling units will look like:

Want to see more? You can see Karl’s full presentation below.

From Rev. Heather Shortlidge

Dear Friends,

Join us for Zoom worship this Sunday, September 12 at 10:00am. I’m preaching the third sermon in our series, “I’ve Been Meaning to Ask,” focusing this week on the question, “What Do You Need?”

During the service, there will be a special Back to School Blessing as well as a remembrance of the 20th anniversary of September 11th. Immediately following worship, there will be an update from the Board of Trustees about the building and various construction projects. We look forward to seeing you on Sunday.

Join us on Zoom at 10:00am
Dial: 1-929-436-2866 with Meeting ID: 150 620 34

A poetry prayer by Rev. Sarah Are, “Here If You Need Me,” to nourish your spirit this week:

I got the call and almost
rushed right over.
I wanted to hold your hand and
tell you it would be okay.
I wanted to start a meal train.
I wanted to bring casseroles and flowers
and hope of better days.
I wanted to take my heart
out of my chest
and put it in yours
so that the ache might fade.
I wanted to speak, and fight,
with the person in charge.
I wanted to get justice,
I wanted to make it fair.
I wanted to start a campaign.
I wanted to rewind time,
to easy, better days.
There is so much that I want to do,
but it’s not about me.
It’s about you.
So tell me—
what do you need?
I am here.
I am listening.

Peace and Courage,

Heather

From Our Pastor Nominating Committee

As we shared in July, we cannot wait to introduce you to the pastor we selected as our candidate to serve as NYAPC’s next senior pastor.

NYAPC will hold a special hybrid worship service at 3pm on Sunday, September 26 at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 2701 Cameron Mills Road in Alexandria, to introduce you to her. Following the service, we will hold a congregational meeting to vote on her candidacy and potentially host an outdoor reception. We will also have a soft launch of our Stewardship and Capital Campaigns at this service, followed by a formal launch at our regular Zoom worship service the following Sunday, October 3.

The special service on Sunday, September 26 will be a hybrid service and we invite you to participate on Zoom, as we have been doing since March 2020, or if you are comfortable, to join us at Westminster Presbyterian Church in-person.

Masks will be required for everyone, regardless of vaccination status, and we will refrain from congregational singing and communion for everyone’s health and safety. For planning purposes, please let us know if you plan to join in-person at 3pm on Sunday, September 26 by filling out this form. Registration is not required but having a head count will help us prepare!

(We are unable to hold the service in our own sanctuary because of the ongoing HVAC work in our own building, but Westminster is about 15 minutes from NYAPC, with plenty of parking. If you have any transportation issues but would like to attend in person, email pnc@nyapc.org and we will work to arrange carpools.)

In this era of social media and with a deeply interconnected denomination, confidentiality in this process is paramount, especially as our candidate prepares to bid farewell to a congregation where she has served faithfully for a number of years.  We will send out materials the day of the congregational meeting sharing her name, background, statement of faith, and more about how we felt God calling her to NYAPC and how she too felt called to join us in ministry, and ask everyone to maintain confidentiality and refrain from posting on social media until she has informed her current congregation of a call to NYAPC. 

If the congregation affirms our nomination of this candidate as our senior pastor, she will inform her current congregation later that day. She’ll then prepare to move to Washington, D.C. and join us as our new Senior Pastor by the first Sunday of Advent, November 28, 2021.

This timeline is increasingly the standard across our presbytery, and while we know it may feel far away, we are in good hands with Rev. Heather Shortlidge in the final months of this transitional period and we really want to allow our next senior pastor to focus on ending her current ministry with thoughtfulness and integrity before turning the page and beginning a new chapter with us at NYAPC.

We continue to be so grateful for your excitement and know you are eager to meet her. We similarly eagerly await September 26, for the opportunity to worship together and introduce you to a candidate who we believe deeply embodies everything we were looking for in our next senior pastor, including prophetic and intellectual preaching, an unshakeable commitment to social justice, empathetic and intentional congregational care, and a talent for management and administration.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to any member of the Pastor Nominating Committee or email us at pnc@nyapc.org.

In faith and hope,

The New York Avenue Presbyterian Church Pastor Nominating Committee

Heather Choi (co-chair), Kristin Ford (co-chair), Adlai Amor, Helen Anthony, Doug House, Beth Law, Rob Neill, Matt Webster

‘I’ve Been Meaning to Ask … Where Does it Hurt?’

Dear Friends,

Our worship series “I’ve Been Meaning to Ask…” brings us this week to the question “Where does it hurt?” These days, this week, this question seems to have an overwhelming number of answers. This question acknowledges that everyone experiences pain. Worship this week will be sacred space to name places of pain in the world, to wonder about the pain of others, and to notice our own places of pain. 

From A Sanctified Art – sanctifiedart.org

Our biblical stories are about Hannah struggling with infertility and a woman with hemorrhaging seeking healing – people who were misjudged and isolated in their suffering. These and contemporary stories will invite us to lament with God, ask others about how they really are, and remember that God draws close to us in our suffering. As we share communion this week, we will share our prayers with one another and remember that Jesus knows suffering and shares those wounds with us.

Join us on Zoom at 10:00am Dial: 1-929-436-2866 with Meeting ID: 150 620 34

Again, we find ourselves beginning a new season that is more difficult than we hoped it would be. The evolving Delta variant and global crises are layering our days with stress and anxiety, especially as some start a new school year with new parameters and others are pivoting once again at work or with family. If you need support, you do not need to suffer alone. Please reach out to someone, such as Rev. Heather Shortlidge or me. We are here to talk with you or help you find counseling.

We continue to pray for those who are suffering from political and environmental crises around the world. If you are looking for ways to support Afghan refugees or those affected by Hurricane Ida, below is information on two trusted organizations doing this work: Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service.

There are many opportunities in the next couple of weeks to be connected with one another as congregational life picks up with the program year. See upcoming events about the Youth Hike and Church Picnic this Sunday, Back-to-School Bags for all children (infants-12th grade), Sunday School for children and youth on September 12, a Young Adult Gathering on September 12, the All-Church Retreat, and other opportunities for all ages to learn and reflect. If you’re ever not sure how to get plugged in, I would be happy to think through this with you.

As you move through this week, be kind to yourself, be gentle with those around you. May you be inspired and comforted by this poem from our worship series from A Sanctified Art:

When It Hurts
By Rev. Sarah Are

I can tell that you’re hurting.
It’s the way your eyes cast down,
the way you shuffle through the house,
distractedly bumping into things.
It’s the restless sleep and
the quiet space between us which
turns us into icebergs.
We float by, silent in the night,
most everything existing
under the surface.
I can tell that you’re hurting.
It’s the way your prayers were quick
at first, and then—none at all;
your silence challenging God,
daring God to say something to the void.
I can tell that you’re hurting,
but I don’t know what that feels like.
Tell me—
where does it hurt?
I’m not offering to fix the pain,
I’m not that powerful.
However, I am offering to see it.
Show me your scars,
and I’ll show you that
you’re not alone.

Peace,
Rachel

Be a Peacemaker! Witness to God’s Love and Peace

Now more than ever, we are asked as peacemakers to confront hopelessness and thwart division by becoming peacemakers as congregations and individuals.

The annual PC(USA) Peace & Global Witness Offering allows us to tackle this peacemaking work and challenge in partnership with PC(USA) by empowering congregations and individuals to make a difference in our neighborhoods, nation, and world.

During the next four weeks, September 5—October 3, 2021, you will have the opportunity to think about how we might as a congregation and as individuals work to promote peace, and to prayerfully consider providing financial support for this effort through giving to the Peace & Global Witness Offering.

Our NYAPC congregation will retain 25% of the Offering for its peacemaking efforts; 25% is sent to National Capital Presbytery for its peacemaking work; and 50% of the Offering is returned to PC(USA) for its ongoing peacemaking programs, including the International Peacemaking program that brings Presbyterian peacemakers from around the world to our churches, several of whom have visited NYAPC.

Culminating on World Communion Sunday, October 3, during the four weeks of A Season of Peace, we on the Peace & Justice Committee hope you will take the opportunity and join in prayerfully supporting this year’s Peace & Global Witness Offering.

Go to NYAPC/give-now and choose Peacemaking and Global Witness from the drop down menu. We ask that you prayerfully and joyfully support peace in our world!

“I’ve Been Meaning to Ask”

Dear Friends,

From A Sanctified Art – sanctifiedart.org

This Sunday, August 29th, we begin a new four-week preaching series, “I’ve Been Meaning to Ask.” Join us on Zoom at 10am. The worship series explores curiosity, courage, and connection, and is crafted around four guiding questions: “I’ve been meaning to ask… Where are you from? . . . Where does it hurt? . . . What do you need? . . . Where do we go from here?”

Through vulnerability and authenticity, we hope these courageous conversations lead us to glimpse hope, joy, and beauty. A preaching series alone will not resolve divisions and differences in the world. However, it will invite us to behold each other as images of the divine, strengthen our capacity for compassion, show us the simple power of asking unassuming questions, and remind us that courage is rooted in the heart.

Join us on Zoom at 10:00am
Dial: 1-929-436-2866 with Meeting ID: 150 620 34

Just a reminder that our Office Manager, Maila Cardoso, is on vacation next week. Catch her before the end of today if you need anything. Otherwise, our Administrative Assistant, Tammi McCoy, will be fielding all office requests during Maila’s time away.

And a prayer by Ted Loder to nourish and challenge you this week,

I Want So to Belong

O God, I want so to belong;
teach me to accept.
I want to be close;
teach me to reach out.
I want a place where I am welcome;
teach me to open my arms.
I want mercy;
teach me to forgive.
I want beauty;
teach me honesty.
I want peace;
show me the eye of the storm.
I want truth;
show me the way to question
my unquestionable convictions.
I want joy;
show me the way of deeper commitment.
I want life;
show me how to die.

Peace and Courage,

Heather

From Rev. Heather Shorlidge

Dear Friends,

Join us this Sunday August 8 at 10am for Zoom worship. I’m curating and leading the service, which will include guest preacher, Daniel Williams, the Minister for Spiritual Formation at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Austin, Texas.

Join us on Zoom at 10:00am
Dial: 1-929-436-2866 with Meeting ID: 150 620 34

As the Session communicated in a special email yesterday, a decision has been made to continue online worship until we can return to the sanctuary. A six-week construction delay has our new target for worship inside the sanctuary as Sunday October 24th. We recognize there is a wide range of emotions surrounding this decision—some are frustrated, longing to be together inside the building, while others are feeling relieved, trying to advocate for and keep unvaccinated children safe. Elders will be available after worship this Sunday for a conversation about this decision and to answer any questions you may have. Please know that this is not a decision that anyone wanted to have to make. As we navigate these challenging times together, we ask for your continued patience and flexibility.

Now for the really good news—your Session has called a Congregational Meeting for Sunday September 26 at 3:00pm, so that the Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) can introduce their nominee for the next Senior Pastor. After more than a year of faithful work, they’ve discerned who God is calling to New York Avenue, and both the candidate and the Presbytery affirm this call. Come meet and vote to affirm God’s call on your next Senior Pastor on Sunday September 26th.

Due to our building challenges, this worship service and congregational meeting will be held at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Alexandria, VA. The candidate will be onsite to preach and be introduced. For those who choose not to attend in person, we’re working on ways for you to worship and vote online. Do note that there will not be a morning worship service on Sunday September 26th. Instead, we’ll gather for one worship service at 3:00pm.

In order to ensure a smooth transition of leadership, the Session has extended the Transitional Pastor contract. I will continue in your midst through Sunday November 21st. Rachel Pacheco will serve as Acting Head of Staff for the week of Thanksgiving. And your new pastor will arrive on Sunday November 28th, the first Sunday of Advent. There’s still much to be accomplished this fall (completing the HVAC project, returning to the building, a joint Stewardship/Capital Campaign, the start of Hybrid worship), and both Pastor Rachel and I are committed to working alongside you to ensure a successful fall season of ministry.

And there’s more good news—the Personnel Committee is bringing back our Reception Staff, Robin Williams and Mary Newman, who have been furloughed due to the pandemic. Mary and Robin will start back on Sundays beginning August 15th, with the hopes that hours will increase once construction is complete and the congregation returns to the building. Please join me in warmly welcoming Robin and Mary back to our staff team.

Finally, to nourish your spirit this week, a prayer by Ted Loder, “Sometimes It Just Seems to be Too Much”

Sometimes Lord,
it just seems to be too much:
too much violence, too much fear;
too much of demands and problems;
too much of broken dreams and broken lives;
too much of war and slums and dying;
too much of greed and squishy fatness
and the sounds of people
devouring each other
and the earth;
too much of stale routines and quarrels,
unpaid bills and dead ends;
too much of words lobbed in to explode
and leaving shredded hearts and lacerated souls;
too much of turned-away backs and yellow silence,
red rage and the bitter taste of ashes in my mouth.
Sometimes the very air seems scorched
by threats of rejection and decay
until there is nothing
but to inhale pain
and exhale confusion.
Too much of darkness, Lord,
too much of cruelty
and selfishness
and indifference…
Too much, Lord,
too much,
too bloody,
bruising,
brain-washing much.

Or is it too little,
too little of compassion,
too little of courage,
of daring,
of persistence,
of sacrifice;
too little of music
and laughter
and celebration?

O God,
make of me some nourishment
for these starved times,
some food
for my brothers and sisters
who are hungry for gladness and hope,
that, being bread for them,
I may also be fed
and be full.

Peace and Courage,

Heather

Fall Worship Plan Update

What will worship be like this fall? Many of you have been asking this question. The short answer: We will begin the fall worshiping on Zoom, due to the delay in our HVAC project, the Covid resurgence, and some logistical challenges. Our current plan is to return to in-person worship in the sanctuary on Oct. 24.

Our Zoom worship services this fall will be the full, robust experiences of earlier this year, not the simplified services with guest preachers; we also plan for us to gather in-person in other ways, including:

  • An in-person service and congregational meeting to meet and approve the new incoming Senior Pastor, Sunday Sept. 26, 3 pm
  • Another congregational picnic
  • An open house for newer members
  • A family playground gathering
  • The All-Church Retreat at Meadowkirk, Oct. 15-17

People are also gathering for Dinners for Nine, and we encourage gatherings to worship together during our Sunday morning Zoom services. Watch for more details. Nurture and Congregational Learning is looking to add more in-person opportunities. Have an idea or want to help? Email meghouse8@gmail.com.

This was not an easy decision. As many of you know, our HVAC construction project has been delayed, with a new substantial completion date of Oct. 21. This has created a unique challenge for worship services in September and October, when we had hoped to be back in the building. At the recommendation of the Worship & Music Committee, your Session voted this week for Sunday morning worship to remain on Zoom until we can return to the sanctuary on Sunday Oct. 24.

We discussed a variety of options; however, the Session decided that remaining virtual was the best choice for our staff and community, due to the logistical challenges involved in providing a simultaneous online/onsite worship experience while most of the building is unusable, and also being mindful of the current surge in Covid-19 cases.

Your elders recognize that there are strong feelings about worship and our current inability to be in the sanctuary. We hear the pain this causes for some and the relief it offers others, especially those with unvaccinated children. We appreciate and welcome your patience as we wade through the fall together, all of us longing for the day that we can return to the sanctuary and a building no longer under construction.

We’ll have an information session, including Q&A after worship this Sunday, August 8. Please reach out with your questions or concerns.

Grace and Peace,
The NYAPC Session

From Rev. Heather Shortlidge

Dear Friends,

It has been a heavy week. With 112 DC homicides this year, the city has been grappling with gun violence. However, on Sunday afternoon, this violence hit particularly close to home, when 22-year-old Jovan Hill was fatally shot. A former Community Club student, Jovan and his family were well known to many in the NYAPC community. Our prayers continue for our city, our disenfranchised neighbors, and leaders who are seeking solutions.

Join us this Sunday, August 1st, for Zoom worship at 10:00am. I’ll be preaching and we’ll celebrate the sacrament of communion. Immediately after worship, we’ll be gathering in small groups to hear feedback from last week’s Virtual Visit Sunday. We hope you’ll stay and share your experience with members of the Worship & Music Committee

Join us on Zoom at 10:00am
Dial: 1-929-436-2866 with Meeting ID: 150 620 34

Our building continues to be under construction. This week the HVAC project continues. And inside the sanctuary, the pews are being sanded and polished, so that when we return, those little white specks will no longer slough off and appear on your clothing.

Many of you have inquired about a plan for the fall, seeing that our construction completion date has been delayed until October 21st. Your Session is meeting next Tuesday to discuss and decide upon options. We appreciate your continued patience as we work to develop a clear plan for September and October, knowing that people are hungry for continued connection and community.

Finally, a prayer by Ted Loder, to help center and nourish you this week:

Now,
O Lord,
calm me into a quietness
that heals
and listens,
and molds my longings
and passions,
my wounds
and wonderings
into a more holy
and human
shape.
Amen.

Peace and Courage,

Heather

From Rev. Heather Shortlidge

This Sunday July 25th is our second Virtual Visit Sunday. Rather than worshipping at NYAPC, you are invited to visit a congregation of your choice and return next week, Sunday August 1, to share your experience. As the Worship Team continues to think through hybrid worship, a service that accommodates people onsite as well as online, we welcome your insights and learnings about what other congregations are doing. Feel free to worship at a congregation you’ve always wanted to visit or have heard good things about. If you need suggestions, here’s a list of churches with good preachers in a variety of time zones.

If you’re craving community and connection with your church family, please join us at the All Church Picnic on Sunday afternoon beginning at 3:30pm in Rock Creek Park. Bring your own food. The Nurture Committee will provide charcoal for grilling, dessert, water, and icebreakers and games for all ages. We hope to see you in person on Sunday afternoon.

Over the past week, Ward 2 Clergy have been organizing around the DC Council budget vote, inviting elected leaders to make historic investments in homelessness prevention funding. You can read more about that here.

I’ve also been in conversation and prayer with other faith leaders about the continued gun violence in our city, including the shooting that happened Thursday evening in Logan Circle, just a few blocks from the church. Please join me in praying for residents who are forced into dead end systems and cycles, for grieving families, for MPD and their role in trying to make our communities safer, and the church as we maintain a downtown presence, proclaiming love and justice.

Finally, a prayer from Jesuit Priest, James Martin, S.J., “Sad, Tired, and Angry: A Prayer in the Face of Gun Violence” to nudge you closer to God’s Spirit and call:

Almighty God,
I come before you,
once again,
after another shooting.

I am sad, God.

So I ask you
to receive into your loving care the souls of those who were killed,
to care for those who were wounded or hurt in any way,
to console the family members and friends of those who died or were wounded,
to strengthen the hands of the rescue workers, medical professionals and caregivers
I pray too for the shooter, as I must as a Christian.

All this makes me inexpressibly sad, God.
But I know that the sadness I feel is your sadness.
It is the same sadness your son expressed
when he wept over the death of
his friend Lazarus.

I know that the sadness I feel is your sadness.

I am tired, God.
I’m tired of the unwillingness to see this as an important issue.
I’m tired of those in power who work to prevent any real change.
I’m tired of those who say that gun violence can’t be reduced.

All this makes me tired.
But I know that the tiredness I feel is your tiredness.
It’s the same tiredness that Jesus felt after his own struggles against injustice
that led him to fall asleep on the boat with his disciples.

I am angry, God.
I’m angry at the seeming powerlessness of our community to prevent this.
I’m angry at the selfish financial interests who block change.
I’m angry that these shootings happen at all.

But I know that this anger is your anger
It’s the same anger Jesus felt when he overturned the tables in the Temple,
angry that anyone would be taken advantage of in any way.

Help me see in these feelings as the way that you move me to act.

Help me see in these emotions your own desire for change.
Help me see in these feelings your moving me to act.
Help me see in these reactions your pushing me to do something.

Because I know this is the way you move people to action.
And I know that you desire action.
For Jesus did not stand by while people were being hurt.
He plunged into their lives.

So help me to answer these questions:
How can I help?
How can I fight against gun violence?
How can I urge my political leaders to enact change?
How can I help people understand that this is
an issue about life?
I am sad over the loss of life,
tired of excuses for the loss of life,
and angry that we are paralyzed by the loss of life.

Turn my sadness into compassion. Turn my tiredness into advocacy.

So
Turn my sadness into compassion.
Turn my tiredness into advocacy.
Turn my paralysis into the freedom to act.

Help me
to be compassionate,
to advocate
and to act,
as your son did,
Almighty God. Amen.

May it be so,

Heather