“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