National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day

On this longest night of the year, today we remembered those who died while experiencing homelessness in our region. It was a powerful service (8 years running now at NYA) made especially poignant by the reading of the names of the people who died living without a home.

Every person honored was someones daughter, son, brother, sister, mother, father, grandparent, aunt, uncle or friend. Every person should be valued as a child of God made in Gods image, valued and loved.

We hold the service each year to honor those who have died and to advocate for those who are suffering amongst us.  We find it shameful that in this region with so much opportunity, we fail to care for the most vulnerable amongst us. As people of faith and as people of conscience we believe that we are called to show up in the broken places: the places of deepest pain, suffering, and shame.  

In those broken places, through both our actions and our words, we are to say that because you are a person who is created in the image of God — 

You are not alone. You are valued. You are loved.  

And by being present for one another, we are to be repairs of the breach, to breathe in a sense of healing that says because you are a person of dignity and worth,  I see you,  and I want to know you just as you are.

We also thanked the many interfaith and social service groups participating in today’s service.  We would like to give a special recognition to  Evelyn McMillan, the NYA cook,  for a beautiful and hearty lunch that provided such a good opportunity for fellowship after the service.

On this longest night, will you pray with us?

O Holy God,

In the midst of winter,

In the midst of difficult political and economic times,

In the midst of great polarization,

On this longest day of the year,

We come to you in prayer.

We grieve this day for all those who have died experiencing homelessness,

We pray for that each person here would feel valued, and dignified, and loved.

 

God of wonders and miracles who moves us into action, 

We pray that every person who desires it would be able to live with the dignity and the security of a home.  

We pray for all those who died on the streets and in shelters this past year, unrecognized and unseen. 

We pray that they will not be forgotten.

We pray especially upon their families and friends,

Both those in close in daily interactions 

And those who have been separated by the distance of time and space.

God of all mercies

And giver of all comfort:

Look graciously, we pray on those who mourn,

That they may cast their worries on you.

Then, in your mercy, 

Grant us safe lodging,

And a holy rest,

And peace at last.

Amen.

 

Blessings this Holy Night.

 

Alice

Center Updates December 21

Greetings looking toward this 4th Sunday of Advent!  We have some important exciting announcements related to the building and the Center this week!

First Floor Bathrooms: A very generous donor from the church has given a significant gift to renovate the first-floor bathrooms in early 2019. A team from the Trustees, Deacons and staff has already met for a scope of work meeting.

Phones and Internet: The Trustees have approved a contract for new phones and internet service for the church, Voice Over IP (VOIP). The contract, which was necessitated by the requirements of the Center, will also bring much improved phone and internet service to the rest of the church.

Center Construction: Center construction will continue apace throughout the holidays.

Church Volunteers for the Center and the Church Entryway: The opening of the Center will yield rich opportunities for church members who want to volunteer. One effort will provide ongoing support to NYA’s desk staff as they navigate the task of welcoming current users of the church while cooperating with the Center’s host staff as we welcome our new Center guests. The second effort, of which New York Avenue volunteers will play only a part, is to provide volunteers to the Center’s larger initiative to bring community volunteer commitments to many of the functions of the Center. Volunteer training will be offered for both efforts in January. Church members Ann Bradley and Matt Webster will be helping us orchestrate those efforts.

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The Center Updates

Happy Advent! Progress on the Center continues at the church.  Last week photographer Stephen Reasonover was able to take amazing photos of the mural that Hank Prussing completed in the summer of 1966 when he was 16 years old.  Mr. Prussing says it is an allegorical scene of people walking down the side walk.  The people are purposely transparent making the comment about who are the invisible members of our society.  He said that in an indifferent world, the younger girl and older woman were to make the point about the importance of linking across generations and socio-economic backgrounds.  New York Ave. Church Mural-6.jpg

New York Ave. Church Mural-1.jpg

New York Ave. Church Mural-7.jpg

On the construction side, demolition, about eighty percent of the framing, and some of the electrical work is complete.  On the program side, the BID has completed the attached flyer outlining the services that will be provided as well as the services that are provided off-site until the Center opens.  They are also completing the service provider schedule including daily housing, case management and advocacy, employment services, health care screens, and harm reduction training.  Veterans benefits, ID services, and birth certificates are also provided on the weekly schedule. More services are to come. 

On the church side, we have formed the BID Advisory Group (BAG), a group of NYA members and staff focusing on the relationship between the BID and the church as well as the role of church volunteers.  From the membership, the group includes Ann Bradley, Rebecca Davis, Martha Davis, Paul Dornan, Tyler Feret, Courtney Spearman, and Matt Webster.  From staff, the group includes Jasmine Jowers, Roger Gench, and Alice Tewell.  

There has been a change in the leadership of the Center.  Rev. Linda Kaufman is no longer the Director of Homeless Services and Executive Director of the Center.  Ellen Jones, the Deputy Executive Director at the BID, is serving as the Executive Director of the Center until someone is hired after the Center’s opening. Jones writes, “We are grateful for the contribution Linda made in her short time here at the BID to meet the needs of individuals experiencing homelessness in downtown DC. She helped to set us on the path towards opening the Downtown Day Services Center to place more individuals in housing and secure the services they need to stay housed, while improving their quality of life during that process. We wish her well in her future endeavors.”  At the church, we are also grateful for the contributions Linda made as well as the relationships she as built both with church staff and members.  We wish her well, and expect to see her around town! 

We are also excited to announce that in the fall, Darlyene “Tokyo” Direkston joined the BID as the  Homeless Services Site and Program Manager  to oversee day-to-day operations of the Downtown Day Services Center (The Center). You can read more about Ms. Tokyo here.  Most of the other Center staff has also been hired.

Please reach out to us if you have any questions, concerns, or want to volunteer in the Center. 

As a reminder, the Radcliffe Room will be giving out Christmas presents on Sunday December 16 starting at 8:15 am to our guests.  You may bring Christmas cards for our guests with a greeting “Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays” to the front desk though the morning of December 15, and they will be put in the Christmas bags.  If you are able to volunteer (and do not normally) in the Radcliffe Room, and would like some more information, please contact our Young Adult Volunteer, Kasey Kelly (yav@nyapc.org).  

Many thanks,

Alice

Advent Christmas Pageant 2018

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We look forward to seeing you for the annual Christmas Pageant this upcoming Sunday, December 16 at 10 am!   The hope the that the Christmas pageant will be a way to introduce our kids to the Christmas story, the fellowship and joy of intergenerational church, and teach about responsibility and trying out new things. It should be a fun-family friendly day of worship!

This year, the Christmas pageant will feature a hymn sing and storytelling from a new Bible: Growing in God’s Love, A Story Bible edited by Elizabeth Caldwell and Carol A. Wehrheim. The last story is from the Storybook Bible by Desmond Tutu.

We will have a lot of hymn singing, so we encourage hearty voices!

Here are a few notes especially for visitors with kids:

Are you a child who is new today or wasn’t able to make it to a rehearsal? You are welcome to take an extra costume from the back.  You can be an angel, a shepherd or a sheep.  You enter during the 4th story (Surprise visitors) with the other kids. 

Did you come early at 8 am (older) or 9 am (younger) to practice?

Please grab your costume in Room 511 (5th floor) and then meet us in the sanctuary. We will take a picture of everyone in the sanctuary at 9:45 a.m. Please be in your seats after the photo.

Is there a celebration after the service?  Yes!  We invite everyone from the congregation (not just families) to Peter Marshall Hall on the 5th floor for special treats, to take pictures, and to share in Christmas cheer. 

A special note for sheep:  We love that our youngest children play the sheep. We hope you will allow them to graze around the front of the sanctuary and enjoy the spirit of the pageant story.  It is what sheep do! Other animals are welcome too! 

When does my child in lower elementary and PreK play their part? Where should they sit?

All children PreK-Lower Elementary enter during the fourth story, Surprise Visitors.  Angels have 1 line:  “Do not be afraid.”  Younger children should sit with their guardians ideally in the first four rows where they can see and participate in the church! Sheep are welcome to sit in the front of the pews and roam free.  (Free range sheep.)

Where should older child/ youth sit? Upper Elementary and Youth Students who have practiced are invited to sit in the choir loft up front. 

We look forward to seeing you!  There is A LOT more information of rehearsals etc, so if you are looking for more detailed information, please email Alice.tewell@nyapc.org.

Happy Advent!

Alice

 

 

Alternative Christmas 2018

IMG_4747Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way….to the Alternative Christmas gifts in the back of the sanctuary! This year’s eight gift projects include four local and four international recipients, plus the always-popular Fair Trade Olive Oil from Palestinian farmers. All of our projects have been connected with NYAPC as part of our mission and partner relationships.

Locally we have our traditional:

  • Open Arms Housing supporting 90 of the city’s most vulnerable women
  • Geriatric Day Care for 40 DC senior residents and their caregivers
  • Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition, led by our own Kathy Doan, was a new addition to our projects last year.  It provides legal services annually to 500 children— toddlers through teens- -through CAIR’s Detained Children’s Program
  • Our new program this year is One  D.C., with a grassroots organizing mission involved in worker co-ops, job apprenticeships and training

Internationally, you are familiar with

  • The Kenya Orphans and Vulnerable Children program that helps 35 children each Saturday and provides comprehensive assistance.
  • First Presbyterian of Havana with its new pastor, Rev. Liudmila Hernández, who is working to expand First Havana’s mission outreach, especially with children and youth, and is  embarking on church renovations including the library to provide computers for young people.
  • The Presbyterian Churches in Baghdad and Basra, Iraq struggle to continue their missions with internally displaced refugees, their Pre-K schools, and FM radio outreach.  In October, the Baghdad Church opened three new grades to its Pre-K school and needs school desks and equipment.
  • The Presbyterian Churches in Homs and Damascus, Syria continue to cope with war and bombing while welcoming back Syrian refugees and continuing their thriving services and missions.

Finally, you know about that wonderful Palestinian olive oil that you love to use and give as perfect gifts.  Just $20 a bottle and it goes fast!! Get your bottles before they run out.

So jingle your way to the Alternative Christmas tables, look at the wonderful projects, get more details and inspiration from the catalog.  You may buy your gifts at the tables today and the next two Sundays, or go online to the NYAPC web site.  Pick up a catalog for details on giving and the projects.

GIVE LOVE THIS CHRISTMAS!!  During Advent, bring Hope, Joy, Love, and Peace to those who need it most.  Give Alternative Christmas gifts in anticipation of the coming Emmanuel.

-Marilyn Seiber, December 2, 2018