What’s Going On? Worship Plans, Youth Sunday, Breeze How-to

Plan to stay after worship this Sunday, May 9, for an information session with our Worship and Music Committee, chaired by elders Meg Neill and Don Campbell. The committee has been hard at work planning our summer worship schedule and preparing for our return to in-person worship in the fall. There will also be an update on the HVAC project, which of course affects our return to the sanctuary.

And if you haven’t had a chance to complete the survey about summer and fall programming, please take the five to ten minute survey now.

Speaking of worship, Sunday, May 16, is Youth Sunday! Pastor Rachel reports that our youth are planning, writing, and recording music for the service, which will focus on the story of religious leaders trying to trick Jesus as they condemn a women accused of adultery (John 8:2-11).

Finally, if you missed last Sunday’s “Intro to Breeze,” the new membership database that the office uses to track membership, directory, and pledge and contribution information, never fear. You can see a pdf of the presentation here. Email maila.cardoso@nyapc.org or meghouse8@gmail.com with questions.

It’s a Breeze! Our Move to a New Membership Database

Want to find a phone number or email of a fellow church member? Check on your contributions when you can’t find your latest giving statement? Change your own address or phone number in the church directory?  Now you can do this, with our new church membership database!

As many of you know, our church office recently transitioned to a new system, called Breeze. The old system, state-of-the-art 20+ years ago, was no longer serving us, and new database technology, linked to our online giving system, now makes it easier for the office and our finance manager to keep our membership directory and contribution records up to date.

But the system is not only for the office. Over the last weeks, we’ve been gradually rolling it out to members of boards and committees, and this Sunday, you too can learn how to have access to Breeze, during a short demonstration after worship.

Here’s why you might want to attend: To learn how to access a searchable database of members, so you can easily find contact information. You can even download an app for your phone. The system also allows you to see your own contribution history and to edit your own contact information.

To answer some questions you might have:

Can anyone have access? No – only those invited by the database administrators (the office and the team supporting the office) can have access to the database. Administrators control who has access and how much those who have access can see.

Yes, what can members see?  Once you set up your account, you’ll be able to see contact and family information for other members and see all the information about yourself in the system, including own personal pledge and giving history.  See something wrong in your contact information? You can fix it yourself right there.  Need to find a phone number or email for a fellow member?  Just type part of their name in the search bar and up they’ll pop!

What about a photo directory?  This can be our online photo directory. All you need to do is upload a photo of yourself. We’re encouraging everyone to do this.

What are other uses of the database? Members of boards, committees and teams can be granted special permissions depending on their needs. A small “data edit” team is checking on the accuracy of our listings, and the clerk can change membership status, for example. Our Sunday School program can use it to make lists of families and children, and our Diaconal Ministers will use it to keep in touch with members in need of pastoral care. Our Finance Manager and Stewardship Committee use the system to track pledges and contributions.

Are my contributions records confidential?  Yes! Access to contributions is kept confidential, shared with only a few key roles (our Finance Manager, the co-chairs of the Stewardship Committee, e.g.) exactly as it was with our previous database.

How is this secure?  Breeze uses the same security standards that are used for transferring credit card data. For more information, see this explanation.

Is this a brand new system?  Only to us! While this is one of the newer entries to the church management software market, it is well established, with many users and many high ratings from a variety of churches.

Is this how I see my program’s budget and expenses? No, this database is solely for member and contribution records. Program budgets are tracked in QuickBooks by Finance Manager Lance Jameson and the Finance Committee.

Can I still get a paper or pdf directory? Yes, the office will make pdf directories periodically. But please note that because the directory is constantly changing, these will not always reflect the latest updates.

How much does this cost?  Breeze charges a flat $50/month, which is less than we were paying for our previous system.

Do you have other questions? Want to access the database yourself? Please come to the short demonstration this Sunday, May 2, after worship.

Flower Dedications – Easter 2021

Delivery of fresh flowers to a few members of the congregation occurs every week, and will continue until the sanctuary re-opens for worship services.

These lovely little flower arrangements are made possible by gifts to the Diaconal Ministers’ Flower Fund from members and friends of The New York Avenue Presbyterian Church who have requested prayers and made dedications in honor or memory of loved ones.

These are the donors to the Flower Fund during the 2021 Easter celebration.

IN MEMORY OF

GIVEN BYIN MEMORY OF
Mary and Warren KrugOur parents, Elsie and Robert Maddox, and Adele and Walter Krug
Mahler-Campbell FamilyElizabeth Campbell, John Mahler, and Gary Campbell 
Beth Law and Kenneth Law, Jr.Our parents, Kenneth and Louise Law
Cindy Dickinson and Stuart DickinsonOur parents, Nancy and Hillman Dickinson
Annie Wong and Calvin ChengMan Chiu Hong, Juno Mei Chen, and Jean Hong-Wong
Jim and Ann DavidsonOur grandson, Samuel P. Beachy
Barbara and Paul DornanOur son, Andrew Charles Dornan
Mary SpatzTurley and Lucyle Mace, and Margaret Corman
Karen George and Adrienne GeorgeReverend Bryant George
John, Stacey, Jacob, and Nori GagosianOur grandparents and great-grandparents
Evelyn Ying and Greg LewisEvelyn’s parents, John and Margaret Ying
Wilson GoldenKris Golden
Meg and Doug HouseVirginia Peddle, Peggy Evans, and Alice Watson
Cathy and John Schultheis  Our grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins who were members of New York Avenue Presbyterian Church
Rob SavageMy parents, Reverend O.L. Savage and Lucille Savage
Gwenn and Paul GebhardPenny and Granville Sewell, and Paul Gansevoort Gebhard

IN HONOR

GIVEN BYIN HONOR OF
Chess Campbell, and Paul and Gwenn GebhardThe Church clergy and staff, and the Internet Technology Support Team
Karen George and Adrienne GeorgeOur parents, Henry and Luvenia George
Meg and Doug HousePhil and Helen Hanna
John, Stacey, Jacob and Nori GagosianLindsey Younger, Jack and Gail Gagosian, and Jan Gagosian

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

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.

Warming Center Opening at NYAPC

by Jim Spearman

On behalf of the Trustees, I’m delighted to share that, in keeping with our strategic plan core value of radical hospitality, we’ve agreed to host a new Warming Center in the Radcliffe Room. 

The Warming Center is intended to provide respite from cold winter weather for a maximum of 30 people at one time.  It will operate Monday to Friday, 8:30-5:00pm, Monday through Friday, starting this weekend and ending 31 March 2020. 

The Warming Center is a project of the Downtown Day Services Center, and it is part of a citywide effort by the Mayor to be announced this Friday.  It will be managed by Day Services Center personnel. The Downtown Business Improvement District (BID) is paying a reasonable rent to cover NYAPC direct costs.

Radcliffe Room Ministry activities on Sundays will not be interrupted. Clothing closet overflow on the stage has been moved temporarily until it can be configured to moveable racks stored in the actual closet during the week.

This opportunity to use our building in a new way arose just recently. Please join me in thanking Trustees and staff, particularly outgoing Facilities Manager John O’Brien, for successfully responding to this opportunity to engage with this mission.

Christmas Flower Dedications

To celebrate the birth of Christ, the Diaconal Ministers organize poinsettias for our sanctuary. The flowers are paid for by donors who request dedications in honor or memory of loved ones. While the sanctuary will remain empty this Christmas, you may still request a dedication this Christmas season.

Christmas Poinsettias in the Sanctuary. This year, Christmas flower dedications will support sending flower arrangements to members each week.

Your donation will help sustain the Flower Fund, which is currently being used to deliver flowers to members of the congregation every week until the sanctuary re-opens for worship services. The delivery of the three small arrangements costs the same as two large arrangements for our sanctuary.

This year’s dedications will be listed on the screen before the worship service on the Sundays before and after Epiphany, January 3 and January 10.

To dedicate your contribution, copy the form below into an email, complete it with your information, and email it to gwenn.gebhard@gmail.com, or call Gwenn at 202-213-1657.

Name of Donor(s):
Phone or email:
A contribution is intended of $
In Memory of:
In Honor of:

Please send your contributions to the church online and select the Flower Fund. If you wish to send a check, please write “Flower Fund” on the memo line.

Any amount is welcome. The deadline is Sunday, Dec. 27, at 5pm.

What’s Going On with NYAPC’s Tenants?

By Hal Hiemstra

It’s been six months since our congregation began social distancing and worshiping online.  During that same time period, The New York Avenue Presbyterian Church’s many tenants have also had to drastically alter their own programs and revise their ways of operating. 

One of our largest tenants – the Downtown Day Services Center had been serving 150 or more clients per day prior to mid-March.  With the closure of our building those services were abruptly halted – but the needs continued.  To meet some of those needs, a new partnership developed between our church and World Central Kitchen resulting in a new lunch program that was launched in Triangle Park next to the church.  Piggybacking off of the new lunch program, the Day Services Center began offering limited services by appointment only during the hours that meals were being served.  When the District of Columbia moved into Phase II reopening in late June, the Day Services program expanded its own program.  Restrooms, showers, laundry, phone charging and emergency clothing are now being offered between the hours of 9:00 am and 5:00 pm, along with lunchtime meal services seven days a week in Triangle Park.  The Day Services Center is operating at about 30% capacity and hopes to begin operating at 60% capacity by the end of this year.

The group counseling focus of the McClendon Center has meant that it has been unable to restart its own Day Services program at the church at this time.   The McClendon Center’s Day Program identifies different learning levels for clients, who are grouped according to their cognitive ability and degree of motivation. These learning levels, or tracks, include substance abuse recovery groups as well as early recovery groups for those individuals who are beginning to consider the process of recovery.  Because most McClendon clients travel by public transit, and because most McClendon sessions are group sessions, current social distancing requirements make it particularly difficult at this time for the McClendon Center to restart its program at NYAPC.  McClendon Center staff are occasionally using their offices, but the counseling programs that are offered in morning and afternoon sessions at the church remain on hold.

Similarly, Capitol Clubhouse – another group counseling program operated out of NYAPC – primarily utilizing the Radcliffe Room – is also currently on hold.  The Clubhouse model provides mental health services in a clubhouse setting that offers members a path to recovery from mental illness through friendship, meaningful work, and access to education and housing.  Because their client base also primarily travels by bus, and because they work with clients in a group setting, Capitol Clubhouse leaders have not yet felt that they can safely restart in-person meetings.  Some Clubhouse staff have occasionally been using their offices off the Radcliffe Room, but are not yet back in the building on a regular basis.

Fabrangen, a Jewish fellowship founded in 1971, has been renting our sanctuary and holding its High Holiday Services at NYAPC for the last 34 years. This year it is unable to do so. Fabrangen is a havurah, a fellowship that is led by its members, not by one rabbi, with services that are known for their vitality and depth.  The High Holidays provide an essential spiritual practice of critical introspection and self-awareness, delineating a holy time for thoughtful re-examination of actions and inactions – and times when we have failed to follow our values. This year, Fabrangen writes that current events have focused their fellowship on systemic racism and have highlighted societal norms that have discriminatory impacts. The Fabrangen fellowship recognizes that “we must engage in the work of confronting racism to create a reality that honors the fact that Black Lives Matter.”  In support of NYAPC’s own ministry around social justice issues, even though Fabrangen is not able to worship in our sanctuary this year, they have pledged to make a significant donation to our church in support of our social justice efforts.

The Downtown Cluster of Congregations, directed by Terry Lynch, has more frequently used their office space, the Thelma Odem room located just off the main lobby, but is not back in our building on a regular basis.

Other tenants, including the DC Concert Orchestra, which typically practices on Sunday afternoons in Peter Marshall Hall, has been unable to restart its program at this time and is struggling for funding but is hopeful that its program can restart by January 2021.

Two smaller congregations – Kingdom Life Ministries, and Faith Temple also typically hold Sunday afternoon services at our church. Kingdom Life Ministries is well-known for its enthusiastic musical performers and singing.  Neither congregation has been able to worship at NYAPC since mid-March and will not be able to do so until our own congregation is once again back in our sanctuary.

All of these tenants are part of the New York Avenue family and mission, and they need our prayers and support as they, like us, work to stay together and come out on the other side of this pandemic.

Q & A: Meet Rev. Rachel Pacheco!

Last week, we “sat down” (via email) with Rev. Rachel Pacheco, our new stated supply associate pastor, for a quick interview. Watch for an expanded version in the next version of AveNews!

How did you decide to become a pastor?
I participated in the Presbyterian Young Adult Volunteer program where I gained tools for vocational discernment. I thought about what gives me energy and what I would do with my time if I could do whatever I wanted. I realized I enjoy talking with people about big questions and difficult questions. This is part of being a pastor: creating space for questions, wondering, searching, and walking with people through difficulty.

What do you enjoy about working with children & youth?
I enjoy encouraging young people to make their own observations, to be curious, and to think of their own answers to questions. This is one way we build our faith and our individual voices which is vital for young people who are often told what to think or believe. I also enjoy learning to explicitly include children and youth in worship so that we can practice worshipping together as one body.

How do you cultivate your personal faith?
Ever since my family began attending church when I was five years old, I have participated in worship through music. So, playing and singing is a significant way that I cultivate my faith and center myself, both in worship and on my own. Not being able to gather in congregational song has been such a loss for all people of faith, in part because we are not able to join our voices together at the same time in the same space. Making music together reminds me that I am not alone in this life of discipleship. It also helps me to pray and connect with God’s presence among us. In light of the pandemic, I am very fortunate to live with another musician! My roommate, Abby Madden, is currently the Minister of Music at Arlington Presbyterian Church.

How are you planning to spend your first weeks with us?
My first weeks will be focused on meeting you all, learning about your congregational culture, and working with the dedicated Christian Learning leaders to prepare for a new Sunday School year. My first week has already been full of fun and collaborative conversations.

Are there other parts of your job that you’re especially looking forward to?
I have heard many times that this church is full of committed people. I have already started to experience this and to understand what that means. I am really looking forward to hearing your stories and being partners in the work of the church. I am also excited to work with the Communications team. Communicating well has an impact on the ministry of any congregation, so I am glad to invest in this work.

What can we do to help you as you get started in your work?
Contact me! I will be reaching out to you all, especially once Sunday School is underway, but don’t hesitate to reach out. Start thinking about what you want me to know about you and about this community.

You can contact Rachel at Rachel.Pacheco@nyapc.org