From Rev. Heather Shortlidge

Dear Friends,

Join us for worship this Sunday, January 31st at 10:00am. We’ll gather on Zoom to sing and pray, lament and listen, connect with our community, and hear ancient words of scripture applied to our lives today. I’m preaching from Mark 1:21-28, the story of Jesus encountering an unclean spirit.

The music this week features Taisha Estrada in a beautiful spiritual, Give Me Jesus, arranged by Moses Hogan. This poignant spiritual is an “evergreen” that resonates so well during the cold of January.

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

A prayer from Ted Loder to nourish your spirit this week:

Give Me Hope

O God,
this is a hard time
a season of confusion,
a frantic rush
to fill my closets,
my schedule,
and my mind,
only to find myself empty.

Give me hope, Lord,
and remind me
of your steady power
and gracious purposes
that I may live fully.

Renew my faith
that the earth is not destined
for dust and darkness,
but for frolicking life
and deep joy
that, being set free
from my anxiety for the future,

I may take the risks of love

Peace and Courage,


How Did We Do Financially in 2019 & 2020?

From Finance Committee’s Doug House and Brent Ling

At the Annual Meeting on Feb. 7, your Finance Committee will give a high-level summary Session’s budget for 2021. (To get into the nitty-gritty, you can review a detailed 2021 budget here.) It includes funding for essentially all requests made by NYAPC Boards, Committees and Programs and provides for enhancements to staff, a major improvement to Sanctuary technology, and much more.

It also calls for us to spend about $180,000 more than we take in from ordinary revenues and annual endowment draws – before the planned HVAC project. 

A Moment to Celebrate. As we get ready to discuss 2021, it’s useful to look back at what’s happened financially in 2019 and 2020. And to take a moment to celebrate what were really two very, very good financial years for NYAPC! Read more.

Let’s start with nuts and bolts: Accounting. As you’ll recall from Finance Committee’s last communication with you, our accounting team has been playing catch-up since Q4 2019, fixing some posting issues caused by our amazingly complex web of Funds, investments, and GAAP accounting requirements. And dealing with floods, building closures, and responding to the needs of the church in pandemic-times.

The first piece of good news: we’ve caught up! We finally closed 2019 financials this past summer and posted November 2020 reports right on time, around the 22nd of the following month. December Financials, reflecting the “close” of the year, normally post the second week of February. We’re on course to do that and deliver January Financials in late February, right on schedule. Add in a “clean” audit for 2019 and we can say our accounting function is back on its game. And with more improvements to come.

Excellent 2019 and 2020 Results. What do those completed and now-timely reports show? Financial results in 2019 and through November 2020 are…shockingly great! Our annual budgets as configured today look at a slice of the church’s financial life that we can call “operations.” The budgets pay attention to “ordinary” revenues like pledges, other contributions, income from trusts, building use revenue, and grants and ignores any investment income or losses (since they mainly impact endowments versus our “spendable money”). And we include in the budget our cash operating expenses for things like salaries, supplies, utilities, and any grants we make to other organizations but ignore “non-cash” expenses like depreciation and benefits accruals and omit large capital projects supervised by Trustees.

In 2019 we budgeted and almost $800,000 gap between our operating revenues and operating expenses. In 2020, the budgeted gap was around $440,000. After applying our annual “draw” from endowments to those numbers, our 2019 budget called for us to “burn” around $550,000 in cash in 2019 and around $180,000 in 2020.

What actually happened? Instead of “burning” cash on operations, we actually collected more revenue than we spent! In 2019 revenues from operations exceeded operating expenses by $112,000. Through November of 2020, that number is around $115,000 and will go higher. A HUGE turnaround from the budget!

Even after adding non-budgeted capital expenses into the picture, things look pretty good. In 2019 we booked capital expense (capex) of around $600,000, mostly on the work getting our building ready for the Business Improvement District’s Downtown Day Services Center. In 2020 (through November), we’ve booked around $165,000 in capex for security improvements and asbestos and mold abatement. Which means that overall, we still “burned” some cash both years. But the bulk of 2019’s capex is being paid for by the BID over time. So even with capex, we’ve been doing great!

Why were the 2019 and 2020 results so much better than budget? Lower than expected costs both years tell a lot of the story. In 2019, personnel costs were under-budget following Roger’s departure, and interest payments were below expectations because rates remained gloriously low. And we booked $135,000 less than budgeted to repairs and maintenance due to a mixture of work that did not need doing and moving some of the work we did do to capex vs the budget. [If you don’t understand that last sentence and want to, let us know.] In 2020 most expense categories were under budget because of pandemic-related disruptions.

But higher than expected revenues are important as well, with overall revenues $785,000 over budget in 2019 and $322,000 over full year budget already in November of 2020. What’s going on with that? Three things:

1) Big increases in non-pledge giving in 2020. There was a pandemic. There was great need. You and many of our neighbors stepped up and sent NYAPC money to use to respond. A huge blessing.

2) Bequests. Our budget generally ignores bequests because projecting them feels a bit ghoulish and it’s hard to know in advance if a bequest we do receive is available to pay for regular operations or it’s going to be designated to pay down debt or to add to our endowments. Our budget for bequests in 2019 and 2020 were $0 and $90,000 (the latter a bequest we were notified of in 2019). Our actual bequest receipts were $411,000 in 2019 and $395,000 in 2020 (through November and not even including the astonishing gift from Amy Gillespie).  We need to do more work to fully unpack the details of these bequests and understand how they shape our overall financial condition. We may want to report on them differently in the future. More to come!

3) Under-budgeting for Pledges and Contributions. In 2019 we received $315,000 more in pledge and non-pledge contributions than budgeted. In 2020, through November we’ve received $98,000 more than the total we expected for the whole year.

In preparing the 2018, 2019 and 2020 budgets, Session (on recommendation of Finance Committee) took a conservative approach to budgeting two of our three main sources of revenue: pledges and non-pledge contributions. Why? Because our accounting challenges of 2010-2015 meant we had little definitive data on what had actually been happening. And the Finance Committee felt it was safest to assume that our only pledge revenue would be whatever amount of pledges were in-hand when the budget was finalized in early December. And that non-pledge revenue budgets should be built up from best estimates of likely giving to specific programs and accounts.

Looking at 2021. As we’ve finally had three full years (2017-2019) and one partial year (2020) of data, we can see that this approach way, way underestimates how much we’ll actually collect in pledge and non-pledge contributions. So our 2021 budget for contributions is substantially higher than what you’ll find in either the 2020 or 2019 budgets. But, we think, much closer to what we’ll actually experience.

In fact, “much closer to what we’ll actually experience” is a theme that runs through many different sections of the 2021 budget. Using now-available multi-year spending history, Trustees were able to develop a full and robust projection of what we’ll be spending on things like software licenses, maintenance contracts, legal fees, and more. The 2021 budget includes these items – many of which have been missed in previous budgets – as well as a $45,000 allowance for unplanned repairs and maintenance because, you know, things break! And that’s about what we’ve spent on non-HVAC-related repairs over each of the past three years.

As you’ll see at the annual meeting, that doesn’t mean we know what’s going to happen. We’re unsure how the pandemic and limited building operations impact our tenants and what that will mean for building use revenue. At the time the budget was drafted, we were looking towards returning to the building for worship at the start of Lent. That timetable now seems unlikely to materialize. And while the budget carries a substantial allowance for debt service, we won’t really know what we’ll need there until HVAC contracts are let, the work done, and the dust (and cool breezes) settle over the final bills. Think of the budget as a tool that the governing boards of the church can utilize to notice irregularities, and make decisions about spending or saving funds based on the performance we are seeing in real time.

We’ll need to walk that path and see what happens together. But for now we hope you’ll join us in celebrating two great financial years at NYAPC, years in which we learned, grew, and built resources we can use to answer God’s call to us on this corner of Washington, DC.

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.