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,

Matt

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

Stewardship: Godspell Jr.

IMG_0479Good morning. My name is Penny Wagner. I’m 13 and I am just now beginning Confirmation.

For those of you who don’t know, when you go through Confirmation you have to complete a Confirmation project. What I have chosen to do as my Confirmation project is to direct Godspell Jr. at our Church.

I understand that this takes a lot of time and costs a lot of money. Which is another reason that Stewardship is so important.

I am incredibly excited to direct this musical, but we will need money for costumes, sets, scripts, the license to do the musical and more.

Your Stewardship pledges help support programs like this musical. But remember that Stewardship can also be time and talent. We would love your help.

 If you would like to volunteer to help out with backstage matters or volunteer to play an instrument, that would help too. I am working with Eric Slaughter and Karen Dunlap and soon we will have a date out for an information meeting.

If you would like more information about the musical or know you would like to help out or act in the musical, please come. That is also when we will inform you all about the date of auditions.

IMG_0443I am excited to direct this musical. So please pledge. Some of my favorite things that come from Church are the Fall Church Retreat, the youth group activities, the choir, both children and adult. And without your pledges, we would not have any of that. So please pledge.

Thank you all for listening to me.

Penny

Sharing Strength – Building Faith – Gifts United in Christ: 2020 Stewardship Kickoff

Good Morning,

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Helen Anthony with her parents visiting NYAPC

Welcome to the 2020 Stewardship Campaign! If you are a regular NPR listener, you might be a little tired of fall fundraising. But don’t worry! We will not be interrupting the sermon to “Raise $5,000 before the end of the hour!”. 

Throughout this falls Campaign, you will hear from members involved in diverse Church activities. Next Sunday, September 29 at 10am we have a Mission Fair so you can be reminded of all the activities and programs that you support through your pledge to New York Avenue. And maybe you can even sign up for something new!

Our theme this year is Sharing Strength – Building Faith – Gifts United in Christ. 1 Peter 4: 10-11 reminds us of the unique gifts that each of us has been given by God, and challenges us to return those gifts to our community, New York Avenue. Through sharing with and supporting our community, we continue glorifying God.

Recognizing that New York Avenue Presbyterian Church offers us strength in this changing world, we are happy to return to God what God has given us. In celebrating our strengths, together we build up our faith community, to nurture ourselves and the daily visitors to our church building. During this time of transition, we hope that you will continue to support New York Avenue, through your time and offerings. Board Members were asked to pledge early, and so far we have 85% support from Elders, Deacons, Diaconal Ministers, and Trustees! We hope that seeing the strong support from our four boards will encourage you to participate this year as well.

We have set a goal of $700,000 for this years campaign, about a 5% increase over last years pledge numbers. I hope that you will join me in prayerfully considering an increase to support our church, our thriving programs, and most importantly, our future.

Thank you,

Helen Anthony, Stewardship Chair

Njoro Sunday – An Opportunity to Give Thanks for our Kenya Partnership

Here is a post from Rev. Beth Braxton on the NYAPC partnership with the Orphans and Vulnerable Children Ministry in Njoro, Kenya.  This message as preached on June 16, 2019.

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“God has done so much for me, that I cannot tell it all.” This is a chorus we learned in Swahili and English last summer on our church’s mission trip to Njoro, Kenya.

It is the background music in the eight-minute video put together by one of the participants, Kelvin Njoroge, a member of the Goshen International Church in Henrico County, a congregation that partners with us to care for thirty-three Orphan and Vulnerable Children.  (Goshen International is an immigrant church of persons from Burundi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Kenya)

On Sunday June 16, I indeed felt that there was so much of God’s grace to witness to that we could not tell it all.  The video which we showed at the end of the worship service (and may be seen on our church website), is a quick history of the 2018 mission trip to Njoro: who participated, what we did, what it meant, and where we stayed. The Minute for Mission was given by two members of the Steering Committee, John Clark who participated in the mission trip and Brian Carlson who desires to go on the 2020 upcoming trip; Brian and John did a question and answer time to give our congregation an idea of what a mission trip to Njoro is like.  There are many stories of this inspiring journey; and it is a challenge to tell it all.

For “Njoro Sunday” we chose the theme of Hope; OR rather – the lectionary scripture for the day Romans 5:1-5 chose us! The Saturday program of Orphan and Vulnerable Children (OVC) is just such a place of Hope for the students (most of whom are youth ages 12 through 20 – no longer young children!) This year especially, participants are getting not just spiritual nurture, help with homework, nourishing cooked lunch – but also are participating in a small mentoring group, led by one of the adult members of the Njoro OVC Committee – including the church pastor and the social worker.

One student who stood out for us last summer was Matthew Mokoa, a thirteen year old in Class 8 (we would say eighth grade).  Several of us visited his home , a two-room rental (no electricity or indoor plumbing) where his single mom, brother and sister all reside.  His mother does casual labor (doing laundry, gardening for $2.00 per day) when she can get work.  What was noticeable about the rooms was starkness and the soot on the walls from the kerosene lamp and the cooking fire.  The mother showed us that the lamp did not work properly so they had no lamp at night.  I asked Francis Muchemi, chair of the OVC ministry, about what it would cost to get a new properly-functioning lantern.  He suggested getting a solar lamp, which cost Ksh 2,500. or about $25.00.  We left that amount and a solar lamp was then purchased for Matthew’s home.

Matthew along with everyone else in Class level 8 throughout the country of Kenya has to take a National Exam near completion – and result of that one set of exams determines where (and whether) one will go to high school – a local day school, a national boarding school, just a technical school or even dropping out of school.  Matthew scored high enough to qualify for a National School!  Here is what he wrote and I share with you from my sermon –a sign of hope.  

“ the programme (OVC) provided a Solar Lamp, which made me happy and more encouraged. I thanked God because now I had opportunity to study to my limits. I used to wake up early to study. I was happy because the Lamp had no negative effect, like the other on, which I used to use. That one produced a lot of smoke which made me cough every time. When I got the Solar Lamp, I thanked the member. Then I had hope of passing my (national) exam.

I studied until the last minute. The day of Exam came. I did my best to achieve what I desired. I completed the exams( ended)  and I patiently waited for the results. When the results came I was happy because I persevered to score 379 marks out of 500. This result enabled me to have hope of joining a National school. I really thank God because if it were not for the Solar Lamp I don’t know what I would have scored in the exams.  After some weeks passed, I was glad because I got an invitation letter to a National school by the name Baricho Boys’ High School.  … I thanked God because the school had everything that I had desired for – when I was at home! The school had enough waters. I was happy of that, because the water was throughout. So I had no excuse of not washing my clothes. The school also has electricity throughout. Now I can read any time.  This school also has clean and healthful environment. Flowers and trees are planted all over the school (property) to ensure that there is enough aeration of air in the compound. There are CCTV (security cameras) ensuring security every time (all the time). The school also has improved equipment – e.g., computers, musical instruments and many other.

In reading materials, the school is rich in books and any other required material. So I have no reason why I should fail…. It has enough dormitories for every student has his own bed. The dorms are also well aerated (ventilated) and there are Inner bathrooms… The school is also the best in balanced diet. It provides different kinds of all types. I am pleased because some of the foods I have never seen them in my lifetime. I really thank the OVC programme for such a wonderful deed to me.

Hope is a solar lamp! 

Njoro Sunday is a gift and an opportunity to present to the congregation a connect with this engaging and inspiring ministry through testimony, photos, music, arts and craft, and a taste of mandazis and samosas from Kenya.  Thank you, church!

It is such a gift to be a part of NYAPC and connect with the justice issues of Washington, DC, through Radcliffe Room, Community Club, McClendon Center, 7 2 9. Scholars –in-Residence, and now the Day Service Center!  It is a gift as well to be able to connect relationally with persons in our Cuba Partnership and in a developing country such as Kenya, East Africa. The Presbyterian Church of East Africa membership of four million to five million is 10 percent of the country’s population! In Kenya, the Presbyterian Church is strong and growing.  Evidence for me – in the seven years I have been at the NYAPC and providing leadership to three mission trips to Njoro, the parish has expanded into three congregations! Their faith is contagious and encouraging and hopeful for all of us.  

The apostle Paul’s words are powerful: “Hope does not disappoint us because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit given to us.”

Let me say it this way as I did in my sermon on Njoro Sunday — Because our transcendent creator God who put the planets in their courses, unique fingerprints on all 5 billion people on this earth, and the brilliant color in the butterfly wings and the immanent God who came to us in the human being Jesus who wept for Jerusalem and washed his friends feet and cared for the bent-over woman, spoke truth to power – this God, this transcendent immanent God, this magnificent embracing God of love has been poured into our hearts!! 

And Because of that powerful love, Hope will NOT disappoint us!  It is the fiber of our being that can help us make a better world and give us all the grace we need to enjoy it!! 

Living that love is life!

57th Annual Community Club Award Ceremony and Graduation Pictures

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Amy Gillespie receives a special award from Community Club.
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Titi wins the tutor of the year award.  Titi and her student, did the presentation.
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Kasey Kelly receives a “Thank you” from Tom Karr and Shamika Bradey
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Molly Smith presents and explains the Dornan Scholarships.

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Paul Dornan and Molly Smith smile for a pic!

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Susie Campbell and Susan Baumbach

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Tutor pairs
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Tutor pairs
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Tutor pairs
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Tutor pairs
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Seniors!