Stewardship: Choir

8:45 ServiceIMG_1087

This year’s stewardship theme is Sharing Strength – Building Faith – Gifts United in Christ. The Stewardship Committee invited members of the choir to talk about how our pledges support our congregation’s worship and music.

For me, music has been a key part of how I’ve grown in faith. One of my earliest memories is of being surrounded by a sea of blue choir robes while my parents rehearsed, and even today, there are times I sit up straighter when I hear a scripture passage, realizing I know what’s coming because I’ve sung the words in a hymn or an anthem.

Music helps us remember. It also brings us together in worship. Studies have shown that when we sing together, our heartbeats synchronize. When Stan plays the organ and we sing a hymn, we’re sharing strength and building faith. When Taisha works with our youth choirs, we are building faith and memory – maybe someday they too will sit up a little straighter when they hear something that they’ve sung.

Our pledges support our worship and music, building our faith and community. I hope you’ll support our church with a financial pledge this year, so we can keep singing, together.

Meg House

11:00 Service

You’ve heard about stewardship these last several weeks, and today I’m going to talk about it as it relates to music at New York Avenue.

My father was a preacher’s kid, so we went to church.  I’ve been to a lot of church services. There are some sermons that have stuck with me over the years, and certainly some scripture that’s very familiar—some I know by heart.  But the music is what has the power to bring me back to a time, a place, a feeling of being part of a community and of being loved by them and by God.

The first hymn I learned was probably “Jesus Loves Me,” and I can still picture the Sunday school classroom where we sang it when I was 3 or 4 years old—and put our offering in a little bank shaped like a church.  When we sing the hymns I grew up with—like “Holy, Holy, Holy—I think of my home church. And when we sing “Praise Ye the Lord, the Almighty,” or “Now Thank We All Our God” (which was our introit today), I think of our wedding day, because those are the hymns we used.  I love seeing the children of this church singing or playing their instruments, and it reminds me of how supported I felt when I did that as a kid; I knew that my church family would love me no matter how I played the flute. I hear my parents’ favorite music, and I think of them, and of my mother’s certainty that when she got to heaven she’d finally be a singer.  It’s fitting that at memorial services, the preludes are often “hymns of the faith”—they really carry us from birth to death.

What does this have to do with stewardship?  Pledging helps the Session plan the budget, and fulfilling those pledges helps pay for Stan, and for our wonderful choral associates, who add so much to the choir.  They pay for the instrumentalists who join us sometimes—what would Easter be without brass, or some of the special pieces we sing, without strings? They pay for Taisha’s leadership of the children’s choirs, and new music for them to sing.  And organs and pianos aren’t instruments you can just buy and forget—they need regular tuning and maintenance, and consistent temperatures and humidity in the sanctuary to sound their best. All of that requires money.

We as Presbyterians believe that the Word is central—not only the Word preached and read, but the Word sung and interpreted in music.  Protestants have been singing “A mighty fortress is our God” for 500 years. Music is an important part of worship, and of the life of this church, and your pledges help ensure that it will continue to be.  Thank you.

Meg Neill

Stewardship: Our Church Staff

img-8931.jpgGood Morning,

I have had the honor of serving as the chair of the Personnel Committee for the past four years. During that time, there are two things among many that stand out as having left the most positive impressions on me:

First is the energy and dedication with which everyone employed by New York Avenue brings to the church each day. This was made clear to me through my own experiences here and, even more so, through the feedback I receive from others. For example, just last week someone told me how impressed they were with the efforts of the building staff in setting up for weddings and other third party events, breaking down and cleaning up afterwards. A couple weeks ago you heard Heather tell the story about Robin assisting the woman camped out outside one of the church entrances waiting for the Day Center to open. A couple months ago I heard about how David Smoot gave a tour of the church to a family of tourists who knocked on one of the church doors at a time when the church was closed and he was the only person here. These are just a few example, but there are many others.

Whether it’s Sunday services or any of the many many activities that take place here such as the Radcliffe Room, the Day Center, Community Club, McClendon Center, church board meetings or the activities of outside individuals or groups, there are many people conducting those activities, but the underlying foundation to all of them is the work of all of the church personnel. The staff are who make those go.

Second and equally impressive is the congregational mindfulness to the staff’s well being and the impact on staff through church activities. During my six years on Session, we have taken up many significant projects. During the discussion of nearly all of them one of the questions that always comes up has been, “This sounds great, but what will we be asking of the staff and how will they be affected? Are we taking care of the staff?” That experience is one of many that makes me grateful to be a part of this community.

The entire staff, pastoral and non-pastoral, take care of us as a congregation and we take care of them. In light of them I ask that you consider their work when considering an annual pledge for 2020.

Brian Schimming, Ruling Elder, Chair of Personnel

Stewardship: Nurturing our Community

HeidelbergGood morning. I’d like to begin with a question for you all.  How many of you remember the church assessment tool that New York Avenue completed in 2017? Some members of the congregation received surveys to complete about the strengths and weaknesses of this congregation.

I always think about the church assessment tool during Stewardship season. The results of the tool were overwhelmingly positive. However, I always remember the survey during this time because of what it revealed to me. The number one area for improvement that was identified was to develop the generosity of the members to support the ministries of the church. That was the first time that I realized that many of you were just as worried as I am about how financially we as a congregation can continue to support the ministries and programming of this church that we all hold so dear and believe are so vital in the community.

One of the things that my husband, Aaron, and I most love about New York Avenue is the action-focused, social-justice missions undertaken by the church. But in addition to those, NYA actively works to build community and connections with its members. Aaron and I started attending FaithTalk when it was formed over the summer. We certainly like the opportunity to gather with NYA friends outside of church for food and fellowship, but also to explore our faith through important contemporary topics—from the environment, to transitions, to what other Presbyterian are doing in their communities. We find it valuable to explore these topics in more detail, and to learn and grow and be challenged by our NYA friends.

So when Aaron and I received the Stewardship information this year, it was a reminder of many of the things that we know to be true: NYA’s financial health, while not precarious, needs our generosity in order to be able to continue to sustain the missions and programming that we all find so valuable. Programs like FaithTalk are a clear indicator that this congregation continues to nurture its communities and grow spiritually.  What a gift to be involved in such a vital, caring, and engaged community.

During the stewardship season, I hope you will consider what your future dreams are for NYA, what programs you find vital to our communities and ourselves that therefore must be sustained. Please consider increasing your pledge by 5% this year, if possible, so that we can create these dreams and continue our ministries. We are blessed to be part of such an active and healthy church. As God’s children, we are called to share the abundance of what we have been given. Aaron and I are glad to be able to increase our pledge for next year by 5% because we want NYA to be able to sustain its ministries far into the future, and frankly, we love this community. But we also realize it takes each of us remaining engaged, financially as well as physically and spiritually, and prioritizing all three of these in order to be able to sustain and grow this vital community.

Thank you,

Melissa Jane Taylor

Joyful Stewardship

Good Morning,

My name is Matt Wieseler. I am here representing the Vision and Strategic Planning Task Force. We have been tasked with creating a strategic plan for the church. You may have read our periodic progress updates in the bulletin over the last year, and you will hear more as the strategic plan is rolled out.

I do want to talk about one of the three strategic goals the task force has identified, and that is Stewardship. What is important to know is that we are not talking about the simple word “stewardship” or somebody else’s “stewardship,” but rather the core value of Joyful Stewardship. Joyful Stewardship is the excitement that we get, and the individual joy we experience, from witnessing how our stewardship manifests itself. 

I also want to note that the task force is talking about Stewardship from a broad sense, as Stewardship takes on many forms. It could mean giving of our time and talent, as reflected in today’s Sermon Hymn “Let our Talents and Tongues Employ.” It could mean giving financially. The programs supported by the church are achieved and accomplished through your financial support. A great example is our Kenya partnership, which we are celebrating today with our visitors from Njoro. Welcome!

Please remember that the work of New York Avenue is only possible through your giving, and please consider how you can support this Joyful Stewardship season.

Thank you,


Peace and Global Witness Offering

What does the word Peace mean to you?  What comes to mind, what image do you have? Maybe a trickling brook, a trail in a pine forest, ocean waves crashing on the beach, a quiet sunny afternoon…

And what does a world, a country, a city without peace mean?  Guns and violence? Bombs and rubble? Tragedy and devastation?

Do you think of the people who are enduring the reality of what it means to live in an environment without peace? Do you think of the families racing out of harms way, fleeing their countries, climbing into boats or buses, walking hundreds of miles in Europe or Central America to find safety, or staying close to home to avoid gun violence but still finding it in their back yard, schools, streets, nightclubs?

Do you think of the countless thousands who are in shock and loss because of fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods…..losing all possessions, homes, and the life they knew? Do you think of all those people who need our help, our love and support, our understanding and empathy?

The PC(USA) Peace and Global Witness Offering is a way to show those who live without peace that we care, that we think of them.  Through peacemaking efforts, advocacy, and Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, we as Presbyterians can come together to be active peacemakers.

As you know, 50% of the offering goes to PC(USA) for its work, and 25% goes to National Capital Presbytery for its peacemaking efforts. The remaining 25% of our offering stays at New York Avenue and allows the Peace & Justice Committee to actively support peace efforts, whether actions here against gun violence, supporting those who come to DC to advocate for refugees;  making sure that the Presbyterian Synod in Beirut can keep schools open for refugee children–that Rev. Elmarie Parker described to you when she was her on September 15–; or helping the Presbyterian Church in Baghdad, Iraq secure a new generator to keep the electricity on.

You will see in the bulletin insert a photo of Pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Basrah, a new pastor from Egypt, who Peace & Justice supported in purchasing a used car to get around Basrah to do pastoring.  You will also see a photo of Dr. Zuhair Fatallah, Elder of the Basrah church, whom Peace & Justice sponsored to come to New York Avenue as an International Peacemaker. And, as I just mentioned, Rev. Elmarie Parker visited NYA on Sunday, September 15  in her role as PCUSA Mission Liaison for Iran, Iraq, and Syria through partial funding from Peace & Justice. She brought new understanding of the amazing work the Presbyterian Churches are doing in Iraq.

The Season of Peace is here.  We ask you to consider prayerfully how you might advocate for peace, thinking of those who desperately need our support and love, and if you will give to the Peace & Global Witness Offering.

There are special envelopes in the pews or you may donate online at the New York Avenue web site.

So Open the Doors to Peace.  Be a Peacemaker. And may the Lord of Peace give you peace at all times in all ways.

Marilyn Seiber, Peace and Justice Committee Chair

2019 Njoro Visitors Schedule

A team of five Kenyans from our Kenya Partnership in Njoro, Kenya arrived on Friday, October 4.

Feel free to join in on any of the activities, just let their program guides: Beth & Bob Braxton. Marsha Renwanz, Fritz von Fleckenstein, Molly Lauer, Morgan Brown, or Brian Carlson know that you will join us.

There will be a Light Lunch Sunday, October 6 after church for conversation with our Njoro partners in mission. It will be held in the Radcliffe Room following second service. $5.00 donation suggested.

Oct 4 Fri 9:00am Arrive Dulles Airport (Emirates Airline)


Lodging at Virginia Theological Seminary – rest-in walk the seminary grounds

Supper at nearby Bradlee Shopping Center

Oct 5 Sat Breakfast at the Seminary.

10:00am all meet for trip to Hartland & Stribling Orchards, Markham,VA  and a picnic lunch

Visit Burke Fire Station in afternoon

5:30pm Supper at the Braxton’s

Oct 6 Sun 7:45amRadcliffee Room Ministry to the Homeless

8:45 First worship service

10:00 Sunday School

11:00am Second Worship service

Light Lunch in Radcliffe Room at 12:30pm for congregation conversation with Kenyans

Walk to White House / Joint OVC Meeting

Supper at Tony Chang’s Chinese Restaurant

Oct 7 Mon Breakfast at the Seminary

Adults to Career Shadow: Josephine w. Morgan: Francis w. Norwood (POST); Susan (?)

Students visit  public school and library w. Rev. Beth

Move to host families

Oct 8 Tues Breakfast with host

Ann Njeri at School Without Walls at GW

Matthew Mokua at School Without Walls at GW (with Malcolm Douglas)

Adults at Senior-Citizen Center, Alexandria, VA.

Tour of Old Town Alexandria . and NYAPC with David Powell

Supper at NYAPC – with Deacons

Oct 9 Wed Breakfast with host

Visit Natural History Museum – morning

Lunch at Native American Museum

Visit Air and Space Museum in afternoon

6-8pm “Connections” at Old Town Meeting House Presbyterian church

Oct 10 Thurs Breakfast with host

Visit Senator Sherron Brown of Ohio’s office

Visit Capitol

Lunch at Senate Hart Building

Visit Sasha Bruce Center for Homeless Youth OR The National Cathedral

5:50pm to 7:30pm supper and engagement with Community Club

Oct 11 Fri Breakfast with host

9:00am leave for Richmond, VA – The Goshen International Church

Oct 12 Sat Breakfast with host

Visit Historic Williamsburg

Oct 13 Sun Worship at Goshen International church

Dinner with Kenyan congregation

Oct 14 Mon shopping
Oct 15 Tues Leave Richmond at 6:00am

Dulles Airport check-in

Flight departs at 11:00am

Congregational Sunday: Mission Fair

20190929_102336Today, we celebrate your special participation in New York Avenue Presbyterian Church’s Stewardship Campaign for 2019 and 2020 – what impact you have made and will make on our programs and mission.

Sometimes just a bit of history can put how we got here to this Share Fair – and to our Stewardship Campaigns each year in perspective. Philanthropy and giving can be traced all the way back to Cotton Mather in 1662 who said “Let no man pretend to the name of a Christian, who does not approve the proposal of a perpetual endeavor to do good in the world.”

Voluntary charitable organizations established by religious groups originated in the colonial era and in the mid 1700s, Benjamin Franklin “trained” early Americans in giving for charitable causes and civic benefit.

Presbyterians as a domination were a major part of colonial life as far back as the colonial war. And in 1789 during our first General Assembly, our earliest national church members emphasized the connecting nature of our church and encouraged educational, missionary, evangelical and reforming work.  Outreach mission to Native Americans, African Americans and populations all over the world became a hallmark of the church. This broadened to women’s issues civil rights and other social justice issues along with diversity in congregations.

There is an inherent belief in our core values that giving transforms the giver, making meaningful contributions in the aggregate collectively makes a real difference in the life and expressions of true partnerships and making an impact, for our church and ourselves as members of Christ’s body.

Support of our mission as manifested in our spiritual nurture to us as members each Sunday assures continuous support in our daily lives and decision making; informs and reinforces our moral compass. In tandem, our support assures that staff and volunteer solidarity and mission outreach like you see represented here are expanded.  

Giving to churches by Americans continues to be the largest sector by far of all giving, more than 31% of the total given each year. We join hundreds of thousands of other Christians in supporting so altruistically the work of Christ in our own lives and in the lives of those we serve in our community and the world.

By your gifts your dedication, your thoughtful generosity, you make a difference at New York Avenue Presbyterian Church. Your gifts help us open our doors every day. Your gifts help support our very special ministers, and make our wonderful choir and music program, the Radcliff Room Ministry, Community Club, Cuba Partners, McClendon Center and McClendon Scholars, and Kenya Partnership living breathing impactful and beneficial programs that touch the lives of many every week, every month.

For the Stewardship Campaign, please join with us again for 2020 in making a profound difference in the world; we are grateful for all of you who have stepped forward thus far, and who give of your time and financial resources here.  

This church – and Christ’s love and work – provide strength and spiritual sustenance in your lives. Your generous giving reciprocally to this resource that helps so many not only provides invaluable financial partnership in our programs – but also provides incalculable well-being in our own hearts and minds, each day, all year.

Laura Brouse-Long, Stewardship Co-Chair20190929_100947