From Rev. Heather Shortlidge

Dear Friends,

Image from A Sanctified Art |

Join us for worship Sunday, February 28th, the second Sunday of Lent. I’m preaching from Mark 8:31-38, the story of Peter being rebuked by Jesus for not listening. Again and again, we are called to listen—to God and to others. We’ll be joined by the new Director of Homeless Services at the Downtown DC Business Improvement District, Debra Byrd, to meet her and hear an update on the Day Services Center operating out of the lower level of the church. And there will be virtual Coffee Fellowship after the service, so plan on sticking around if you’d like some community and connection.

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

Here’s a poem by Rev. Sarah Are, “Truth that Ricochets” to nourish you this week:

I went to a lecture once—
An interfaith conversation with
interfaith leaders.
Whispers bounced off the church’s
tile floors
As people shuffled into place,
Carrying hope alongside assumptions—
Mixed into pockets like loose change.

About halfway through the evening,
A young woman in a blue hijab
began speaking.
She was the youngest person on the panel,
Seated far to the left. You might almost
miss her
If you weren’t paying attention;
But not here, not when she spoke.

In quiet determination she told us of fear
and persecution.
She told us of hatred and racial slurs,
Thrown at her people from car windows
like bombs.
It was a truth I did not know,
And that truth ricocheted like sunlight
through the cathedral windows,
Touching almost everyone that day.

Then a man in the back, who could
have been me—
Who has been me—
Approached the microphone and said,
“Your people are persecuted. You live in
fear. You are battered by hate.
If that is true, then why am I just now
hearing about it?
Why is your story not on the news?
Why have you not spoken up about it?”

And the air was still, partly because we held
our breath in anticipation,
And partly because the Spirit slows her
dance when we stand at the edge
of truth.
The woman in the blue hijab leaned into
the microphone
And whispered with a quiet strength that
can only come from years of practice:
“We are screaming.”

If there is one truth in my life
That unfolds again and again,
It is the need to listen.

For again and again, I will try,
with good intentions,
To act and walk with love.
But again and again, I will make mistakes.
Again and again, I will say the wrong thing.
Again and again, they will call me Peter,
And again and again, they will be right.

So again and again,
I will pray for a truth that ricochets,
For ears that will listen,
And for space to hold truth.

If people are screaming,
And to be clear—people are screaming—
I do not want to miss it.

Peace and Courage,


Stewarding Our Gifts: How We’ll Use Our 2020 Grants

In 2020, NYAPC received several grants, totaling $140,000, to help us in “expressing God’s love, engaging in God’s justice:” They will support Radcliffe Room guests and the Orphan and Vulnerable Children program in Kenya, make worship services more accessible online when we return to in person worship, and improve our building’s security for staff, members and guests. These grants also help us begin to fulfill a strategic plan goal to diversify our revenue sources. In addition to these grants, we received a forgivable loan through the Paycheck Protection Program, a generous undesignated bequest of $400,000 from the estate of Amy Gillespie, and many smaller gifts in 2020. Thanks be to God.

Security Grant
The Homeland Security Administration granted us $100,000 for improving building security. Facility Manager Elias Bazezew is currently getting pricing for a variety of technologies to promote better security for staff, members, and guests during daily church operations and worship, including: closed circuit monitor cameras; exterior lighting; internal alarms and motion detectors; and electronically controlled door locks. Then, a committee of the Trustees will determine the configuration of these devices to get the best value for the $100,000. There will also be training for staff and the congregation on our responses to the most likely security risk situations. – from John O’Brien, Trustees

Radcliffe Room
After an employee of one of our office building neighbors, the Phillip Morris Foundation, observed our lunch service in Triangle Park, the foundation provided $25,000 for ministries to our neighbors without homes. Over the next several months, the Radcliffe Room team plans to spend its grant on:

• renovation of the sink in the first floor kitchen (contractor still needed!)
• materials for service, including tables and tents
• six months’ worth of food (meat and sandwich supplies)
• lots of winter coats, thermals, jeans, and hoodies!

– from Phil Telfeyan, Radcliffe Room Team

Sanctuary Technology Upgrades
The worship and music committee applied for and received an $11,000 grant from the National Capital Presbytery’s Church Development Committee “tech team.” The grant will cover half of the committee’s estimated cost of outfitting the sanctuary to enable hybrid in-person and online worship, including the sound system upgrades planned before the pandemic (microphones that comply with new FCC rules and a new soundboard). The worship and music committee’s goal is to provide a fulfilling way for people to participate in worship from home even as we return to in person services. The committee envisions, for example, monitors in the sanctuary that would allow Zoom worshippers to see and be seen, and better cameras and sound than our previous livestream set up. – from Meg Neill, Worship and Music Committee

Kenya Orphan and Vulnerable Children Program
We also received a $5000 grant from the National Capital Presbytery’s Global Mission Program for the Orphan and Vulnerable Children program of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa in Kenya. The grant has been sent directly to that program in Kenya so that they can purchase computers and books for their new library. – from Beth Braxton, Board of Deacons

From Rev. Heather Shortlidge

Dear Friends,

by Lisle Gwynn Garrity | Image from @Sanctified Art |

A dear friend from seminary, who now practices ministry as a licensed professional counselor, calls it a case of the “febs”—that drop in energy and enthusiasm during the dark, cold month of February.

Perhaps you or someone in your pandemic bubble is experiencing a case of the “febs.” If so, know that you are not alone. Do what you can to stay connected to others. Reach out to Pastor Rachel or me. And, even if you’re not really feeling it, try and show up for worship. Being in community can help. And so can the Lenten journey of living simply and reflectively.

Our theme for Lent is Again & Again. During the next five Sundays, we will come to God again and again with our prayers, our dreams, our hopes, and our doubts.

This week, I’m preaching from Mark 1:9-15, the story of God meeting Jesus at the water, reminding us that God meets us where we are—in the midst of our reluctance, doubt, eagerness, weariness, or even when a case of the “febs” has settled in. The NYAPC Sanctuary Choir will be featured in “We Shall Walk Through the Valley in Peace,” a spiritual arranged by the famous African-American composer Undine Smith Moore that features elaborate soaring lines between the vocal parts, giving it an eloquent reflective quality.

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

The church has curated a variety of devotional materials for your Lenten journey. Access written meditations by church members and friends, daily devotional cards that include reflection prompts and a short prayer, and all our Lenten offerings here.

Unfortunately, the church website was down when many of you attempted to join us for Ash Wednesday worship. If you missed it, a link to the entire service is here.

I’m delighted to announce that the Personnel Committee was able to move quickly to fill the Office Manager vacancy. Maila Cardoso, our Interim Office Manager from this fall, has been hired permanently to fill this important position and will begin on Monday. Maila knows the job well and will be able to hit the ground running, ensuring a seamless transition in the church office. A warm welcome back to Maila Cordoso (

Finally, a prayer to nourish your spirit this week:

God never begins letters with the words
“I hope this finds you well,”
For those words imply distance.

Instead, God begins God’s letters to you with the words,
“Remember when?”

Beloved child,
Remember when we dipped our toes into the water?
Remember when we dove right in?
Remember when the ice cream dripped down our hands
And the cicadas sang their song,
And the seasons changed,
And the days were long?
Remember when we fell in love and the world was new?
Remember when our heart was broken?
Remember the tears?
Remember the long nights?
Remember when we laughed again and the sound surprised us?
Remember when we marched in the street?
Remember when we cast our vote?
Remember when we believed in hope?
Remember when?
I do.

That’s what God’s letters say.
So on this day, and every day to come,
Remember: God is meeting you.
If you look back, you might remember when.

Prayer by Rev. Sarah Are | A Sanctified Art LLC |

Peace and Courage,

From Rev. Rachel Pacheco

Dear Friends,

We hope to see you in worship this Sunday, February 14 at 10:00 am.

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

On Sunday, I will be preaching on the Transfiguration recounted in Mark 9:2-9. The music this week features NYA’s Whitney McColley in a beautiful new solo arrangement of “Make Me A Channel of Your Peace” newly arranged by gospel/jazz artist Mark Hayes. Whitney also leads the contrasting hymns this Sunday, that includes long time favorite, “Immortal Invisible, God Only Wise,” contrasted with a newer hymn,” Jesus, Take Us To the Mountain,” sung to “Unser Herrscher,” an ancient German tune. Everyone is invited to sing along during the hymns!

If you missed the Annual Meeting this past Sunday, or would like to read more and see photos of the extensive congregational life in 2020, you can view the Annual Report here with a few small corrections from last week.

The season of Lent begins this Wednesday. We will gather on Zoom for a special worship service on Ash Wednesday, February 17 at 7:00 pm. Because we cannot gather in person for the imposition of ashes, please have on hand oil or soil, to make the sign of the cross on your forehead, marking the beginning of the Lenten journey.

Join us on Zoom at 7:00 pm
Dial-In: 1-301-715-8592; Meeting ID 864 6832 5374

Keep an eye out for Tuesday’s Inspiring Moments email for a Lent calendar and spiritual formation options.

I will be on vacation and study leave for two weeks, starting Monday, February 22, and returning Tuesday, March 9. Please email me by this Wednesday, February 17, if you need anything before I leave.

I’m hearing lately that many of us are hitting another collective “pandemic wall” right now. Here is a verse to hum as we make our way through each day.

Be still, my soul! for God is on your side;
bear patiently the cross of grief or pain:
leave to your God to order and provide,
who through all changes faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul! your best, your heav’nly Friend
through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.


Sharing Favorite Scripture Passages

Do you have a favorite prayer or passage from scripture, something you know by heart and go to in times of trouble? At February’s First Sunday FaithTalk, we began by talking about how we read the Bible, from proof texting to puzzle solving, from scholarly to spiritual, and then shared passages and prayers that are particularly meaningful to us. For some of us, singing is how we remember scripture. We also talked about the power of posting scripture and prayers on a mirror or refrigerator.

Here is a partial list of what was shared. Maybe you’ll see yours – or discover a new one!

This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Psalm 118: 24

In the beginning was the word and the word was with God, and the word was God.
– John 1:1 (especially when sung!)

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
and do not take your holy spirit from me.

– Psalm 51:10-11 (especially when sung!)

He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

– Micah 6:8

Thank you God for giving me another day: May I do your will.
– From the film, Milagro Beanfield Wars.

I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!
– John 16:33

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
-Psalm 139: 14

[B]ut let those who boast boast in this, that they understand and know me, that I am the Lord; I act with steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth, for in these things I delight, says the Lord.
– Jeremiah 9:24

I am God and no mortal,
the Holy One in your midst,
and I will not come in wrath.

– Hosea 11:8-10

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.
– Philippians 4:4-9

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone
when the morning stars sang together
and all the heavenly beings] shouted for joy?

– Job 38:4-7

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”

– Lamentations 3:22-23

Be still, and know that I am God!
Psalm 56:10

Hymns like Amazing Grace and Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee

Strategic Plan Progress: 2020

Despite the many disruptions in 2020, we moved forward on portions of all three goals set out in the Strategic Plan, adopted by Session in December 2019. While the pandemic and other events disrupted some work related to the plan, at times those very disruptions forced us into taking action.

Some of our biggest accomplishments under the plan this year relate to Goals #2, Broadening our Understanding and Practice of Stewardship, and #3, Optimizing our Organizational Structure. Finance Committee helped us toward better understanding and communication about our finances, both the good news and the bad. Our Stewardship Committee ran a successful pledge campaign, and our Trustees and Facility Manager helped us to steward the gift that is our church building. Crises related to our building’s security and the pandemic led us to receive funds beyond our usual sources, including a security grant, a forgivable loan under the CARES act, and a grant to the Radcliffe Room. There is more important work to be done, but good momentum is moving us forward into 2021.

Another major accomplishment, under Goal #3, is Personnel Committee’s re-organization of our staff structure to form a management team to support our pastors. While 2020 was full of transition, we ended the year with this new team in place. The challenge of optimizing our lay leadership structure continues, with a team working on ideas for implementation in 2021.

Much of our work this year related to keeping going as we responded to disruption. In addition, the impossibility of gathering in person prevented us from pursuing some activities—such as retreats, in-person Sunday School and other gatherings—that we might have used to work toward Goal #1, Cultivating Deeper Faith. However, many of these activities continued on Zoom, with groups and classes forming to address this goal. The music program, perhaps most dependent on being in-person, has successfully and consistently supported online worship, but hasn’t been able to explore how it might further support this cultivating faith goal. The coming year(s), which will include welcoming a new pastor and a return to in-person activities, will give us new opportunities to work toward Goal #1.

The pandemic has pushed us to embrace new technologies, which resulted in innovation in worship and in how we meet, and in our communications strategies. As we move beyond the pandemic in 2021 and 2022, we will need to decide what innovations and new practices we might want to take with us as we return to a “new normal.”

The specific goals and objectives of our Strategic Plan are not exhaustive, so this summary does not include many of the other activities of 2020. The three goals in our Strategic Plan represent what Session sees as top priorities for us to work on first as we live into our mission and core values. As we continue to make progress, we should consider other priorities that arise, along with those that come out of the September 2020 Church Assessment Tool facilitated by the Pastoral Nominating Committee.

The full 2020 annual report will provide more specifics related to the strategic plan and a fuller picture of our year. See this pdf for a task-by-task report on our Strategic Plan progress.