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

Preschool Sunday School Makes the Leap to Zoom!

Famous donkeys, Simon Says, show and tell – NYAPC’s preschool class is going strong Sunday mornings at 9:30 am on Zoom. Our intrepid teachers, Diane Douglas, Morgan Brown and Brian Dewhurst, take turns leading the class, getting between five and fourteen participants each week.

Teachers Brian Dewhurst, Morgan Brown, and Diane Douglas

Like any virtual meeting these days, the classes combine the old with the new. The old: they start with “Bubblegum” and “Alligator” – opening songs from pre-pandemic days that give each child a chance in the spotlight (Bubblegum), and help them quiet down (Alligator). And they read a Bible story each week.

The new? They’ve played Simon Says, charades and pretended to be trees, and the class leaders have figured out how to share a virtual coloring page that the students can “color” with annotate features for craft time. Other new things: getting to eat a snack during class, showing off toys without having to share, and wearing awesome costumes, says Diane.

On Palm Sunday everyone brought palms to wave during the Bible story. “We had some great artistic palms, some palms from nature, and some creative green options,” says Morgan. On another recent Sunday Diane led a Noah’s Ark lesson, and the kids got to bring their animals and share them with the group.

Last week, Brian led the “Famous Donkeys of the Bible” lesson, which included a donkey slideshow and a chance to nominate and vote on the most famous donkey of the Bible. The winner? Balaam’s donkey! (Numbers 22:21-39)

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.



Good morning. I’m Astrid Brigham. I was asked to talk this morning about Stewardship.

A lot of activities that I take part in here at New York Avenue are able to happen because of funding help from the church.

Penny, Astrid, and Jacob at Massanetta

As you might know, in July I went to Massanetta, a church summer camp in southern Virginia, with Penny, Jacob, Helen, and Sarah. I had an awesome time. The food was delicious, and I probably had more sugar there than I ever have in my life. I made friends in the mini groups, and everyone there was amazing. We all stayed up until almost 11 o’clock each night, and on the first evening, we made 10,250 bags of rice, soy, dried vegetables, and a vitamin packet to send to people in need.

Astrid packing meals with Rise Against Hunger

One thing that I look forward to every year is the Youth Day of Service to Honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Kids of all ages from churches across Washington, DC gather right here to make lunch, organize the clothing closets, and make care packages for the homeless.26231655_10155713093123941_3163252311497586240_n

Just about a month before that, one of my favorite parts of the holiday season takes place. The Christmas Pageant takes place every December, and I love rehearsing the songs and the pageant itself. I have taken part in the pageant for years, starting when I was a sheep.

2018 Christmas Pageant

I also enjoy taking part in Youth Sunday. I enjoy spending time with my friends to help create an entire church service that everyone enjoys.

All of these activities are at least partially funded by the church.

In order to keep activities like these going for the youth of the church, please consider filling out a Stewardship Pledge. When you fill out a stewardship pledge, New York Avenue has a better idea of how much money there will be and what activities we can plan for the coming year.

Thank you!

Spiritual Practice: Expression in Clay, Pastels and Mandalas

Expressions in Clay, Pastels, and Mandalas  –  Spiritual Practice for Lent

Week of March 12


 Mandalas are common in Buddhism. They have been shared with all of us as a way to focus in on prayer through color and concentration of breath. You are invited to select the mandala design you are most drawn to.

Take in 3 breaths (invoking the presence of the Trinity) and then, without thinking too hard, select a color. Begin on the outside of the design. Then, watching your breathing, notice also what thoughts are coming up for you. When your attention starts to wander, this may be an invitation to select another color. As you move from the outside towards the inside of the design, follow your breath and focus in on the Trinity….What has come up for you?

Let the working of your hands reflect the prayer of your heart.

Art offers a chance to lead us into prayer not just through our words or our minds, but our hands! The invitation to prayer through art is a way to notice your breath through your selection of colors, by the strokes you make, or by the rhythm you proceed into your breath and art. In art practices, there is a chance to focus on: the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, your Faith and then get “lost” in the art work, through your breathing and see where the Spirit takes you! Use these physical tools as an outpouring for your prayer, meditation, and reflection. As you spend time with these media, you may want to think about someone or something in your prayers, a favorite scripture, something on your mind.

Expressions through clay …

􏰀􏰁Take a long, deep breath and slowly exhale.
􏰀􏰁Think about what you would like to ponder in this place today.
􏰀􏰁Close your eyes and take another deep breath.
􏰀􏰁Take the clay in your hands.
􏰀􏰁Spend a moment being with yourself and your God.
􏰀􏰁Let your hands start when and how they will, and watch the expression flow.

OR … just pick up a piece of clay—breathe in the Spirit of God, and let your hands take you where they will!

Expressions through pastels …

􏰀􏰁Enter into a time of silence
􏰀􏰁Pause to call out to God and ask that you might know God’s presence. 􏰀􏰁After a brief reflection (longer if you’d like), begin to draw … and simply be open to viewing your heart and your faith.
􏰀􏰁If your mind begins to wander, you may want to choose another color.


The text describing the above Spiritual Practice has been excerpted from packed “Exploring Spiritual Practices” from Silent Retreats at The New York Avenue Presbyterian Church.  We thank the writers of the packet. 

Spiritual Practice: Embodied Prayer

Spiritual Practice: Embodied Prayer/ Spiritual Movement

Practice for week of March 5


God has given us a body; we come in every shape and size imaginable. Our body moves through space and time – articulating our passions, energy, emotions, dreams  yearning for connection and communion with one another and with God. There are many forms of Embodied Prayer. Labyrinth walking, artwork and even breath prayer are forms of embodied prayer offered at this solitude retreat. The invitation here is to practice movement that brings us close to the Divine. In this way, we connect to the truth that God became flesh in the person of Jesus Christ; and we are now Christ’s hands and feet for the world. We honor the mystery and grace of being…of being a body. When we move to music and rhythms, in community, it is possible to experience sensations of wholeness, flow and tingly energy – awareness that we are alive and that the Spirit is alive in us!

At the heart of Embodied Prayer is the understanding that our body is a great source of wisdom and healing for us – a profound gift. As we access the gift of body wisdom in community, we open deeply to God, our neighbor and our- selves. All that is required is an open heart and a willingness to explore.

Here is the text for our embodied dance for Lent:

#286 “Breathe on Me, Breath of God”

Breathe on me, Breath of God, fill me with life anew,

that I may love what thou dost love,

and do what thou wouldst do. (Repeat 2 times)

The text above is from the “Exploring Spiritual Practices” packet used during the Silent Retreat at The New York Avenue Presbyterian Church.

Lenten Practices for the Spirit and Resistance

Lenten Practices for 2017 @ The New York Avenue Presbyterian Church


Lent is a time for purposeful centering, a time when we have the opportunity to dig into the broad landscape of our faith seeking to love God, neighbor and ourselves with our whole hearts, minds and souls. I love the honesty of this season — this time of wrestling to discern who we truly are and whose we are called to be.

During this season of Lent, I invite you to engage in a combination of spiritual practices and practices of service, reconciliation or resistance.  We begin with spiritual practices to draw us deeper to our individual lives of faith and community-wide relationship from God. Then emboldened through a these practices with God, we engage in our feet, hands and hearts to enter more deeply into God’s world by serving the world, reconciling with a neighbor, or resisting policies or actions that hurt God’s beloved community.

During children’s time (in worship) and gathering time (the time just before Sunday School), we will be learning and a different spiritual practice.  The hope is that you as a family or as a individual will continue this particular spiritual practice throughout the week as well as meditate on the scripture passage from the previous or upcoming Sunday.  The last column is left intentionally blank for you to fill in what accompanying practice you will commit to each week.  I have included 25 ideas in no particular order below the chart.

Here is ‘schedule’ of Spiritual Practices and accompany practices of service, reconciliation or resistance for you to use throughout Lent.

Blessings,  Alice

Lenten Spiritual Practices and Practices of Service, Reconciliation or Resistance

Biblical Story

Spiritual Practice

Practice of Service, Resistance or Reconciliation

(you write in these yourself)

First Sunday of Lent

March 5

Jesus’ Temptation

Matthew 4:1-11

Embodied Prayer/ Spiritual Movement

Second Sunday of Lent

March 12


John 3:1-17

Expressions in Clay and Mandalas

Third Sunday of Lent

March 19

Women at the Well

John 4:5-42

Biblical Storytelling

Fourth Sunday of Lent

March 26

Jesus sees the Blind Man and heals him

John 9:1-41

Labyrinth Walking

and Spiritual Walking

Fifth Sunday of Lent

April 2

Lazarus comes to life

John 11:1-45

Breath Prayer

Palm Sunday

April 9

Palm Sunday

Matthew 21:1-11

Meditative Yoga

Holy Monday, April 10

John 12:1-11

Lectio Divina

Holy Tuesday, April 11

John 12:20-36

Spiritual Journaling

Holy Wednesday, April 12

John 13:21-32

Contemplation with Artwork

Maundy Thursday, April 13

John 13:1-17, 31-25

Spiritual Conversations

Good Friday, April 14

John 18:1-19:42

Breath Prayer

Holy Saturday, April 15

John 19:38-42

Embodied Prayer/ Spiritual Movement

Easter, April 16

John 20:1-18

Biblical Storytelling

Ideas for acts of service, resistance and/or reconciliation for all ages (in no particular order).  Alice’s suggestion is to pick one a week for Lent and one a day for Holy Week.

  1. Read through all or one of the Gospels and then reflect on what it means for your life.
  2. Learn about an issue you care about and then attend a protest.
  3. Write to your member of Congress and then deliver the letter.
  4. Attend a Bible study at the church or study the Bible with family or friends. 
  5. Make a breakfast casserole for the guests in the Radcliffe Room.
  6. Write a letter to someone you know who is feeling left out and welcome them. 
  7. Email Alice a letter of greetings to email the children at First Havana in Cuba.
  8. Read a book about something you do not know that you should know more about.
  9. Learn all of the names of the students in your class, in the office you work with or in your neighborhood.
  10. Ask a neighbor if they would like help with their garden.
  11. Make dinner for your family and then help freeze the extras for another meal.
  12. Collect and deliver adult sized spring and summer clothing for the Radcliffe Room Clothing closet.
  13. Write a note of appreciation for your teacher or colleague.
  14. Donate money to your church or someone in need.
  15. Plan on singing with the children’s/ youth choir or with the adult choir.
  16. Volunteer to help clean up the clothing closet at church.
  17. Collect and deliver extra children’s and teenage books to donate to the book giveaway at Community Club.
  18. If there is someone in your life who who have had a disagreement with, go and make peace with them.
  19. Spend 40 days or a week giving something up that you like.  Use those days to focus on your faith.
  20. Write a blog post about your faith and practices for the NYAPC church blog. Email entry to Alice.
  21. Write a Opt. Ed for the newspaper.
  22. Learn a hymn by heart.
  23. Make a handmade gift for someone who doesn’t receive many gifts.
  24. Take someone who is experiencing homelessness out to lunch.
  25. Share your Lenten practices with someone else.

Trinity-Living and Experiencing Homelessness (NYAPC Children and Youth 5/22)

Trinity-Living and Experiencing Homelessness

Homelessness is on the rise in our region, especially among families.  3.5 million Americans will experience homelessness and 1.5 million of those are children. According to the National Cimages-2oalition for Homelessness, in the last 20-25 years, the 2 major factors for the rise of those experiencing homelessness are a shortage of affordable housing and an increase in overall poverty.  We see this reality all around us, in our neighborhoods, church, school, and in the many the other places we call community.

This Sunday as we celebrate Trinity Sunday, I think the Trinity has something to say about how we relate to those who experience homelessness and how we as God’s creatures should seek to relate to one another.  In the Trinity, we see the the three parts (or beings) of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, existing in perfect union with one another.  Each part of the Timagesrinity perfectly indwells another part of the Trinity.  Though they are different and distinct, they are all One.  We confess that this One and Three, Three in One God,  is a concrete  God very much alive and active  in the world.

Theologian Jurgen Moltmann  says that the New Testament witness, the story of the gospel is “the great love story of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, a divine love story in which all are involved together with heaven and earth.”

It is this love-story for the world that drives this perfect unity existing from creation to revelation, from birth to death, and from the experience of being a creaturely being on Earth to seeking to being part of God’s kingdom here on Earth. We too are to strive to live in perfect harmony with one another. 

We, of course, are fallen sinful creatures who clearly don’t live in perfect harmony with one another.  We do all kinds of things we shouldn’t — thinking not so good things about even those we love the most – and doing all the things we know we shouldn’t do – lying, cheating, boasting….But just because we don’t live in harmony doesn’t mean that we should try.  Affirming the power of the God who created and continues to create new life, the power of God who did a NEW and AMAZING thing in Jesus Christ, and the every powerful force of the Holy Spirit, we too can lean into Trinity-LIVING with one another.

I hope we can experience a bit of Trinity-Living this Sunday, as we gather with the children, youth and participating adults to learn about what it means to be experiencing homelessness here in DC.  We will learn some facts about experiencing homelessness, hear stories of being homeless in DC, and  have a chance to make a personal care-kit and a card  for someone experiencing homelessness.  These time together will hopefully serve as an entry point to lean a  a little further into our calling to see God’s good creation in every being and to stretch ourselves into new relationships modeled after the relationships of God.

Here is the plan for the children-youth-parent-teacher contingent for 5/22:

Continue reading

Pentecost! NYAPC Children and Youth

Happy Pentecost!  Happy Birthday, church!   This Sunday, May 15th will be a fun time to be a child (and hopefully a youth) at NYAPC.  We celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Birthday of the Church, and our diversity/ unity as One Church.

Throughout the morning will PLAY with HOLY SPIRIT sticks that I made (idea thanks to Pinterest). In the Gospels of Luke and John,  John the Baptist says that Jesus Christ will baptize us with both water and fire.  The Holy Spirit comes to us in so many forms — fire, water, the dove, and the wind for example.

We can experience the Holy Spirit  every part of life, for the the Holy Spirit is God’s energy and support for all of creation.  Using these Spirit sticks, made from sticks the little guy and I found in our neighborhood and ribbon, we will use our whole bodies to move like the Holy Spirit we see all around us.

During Gathering Time will also have fun with GLOW sticks with a HOLY SPIRIT dance and act-silly party. Happy Birthday, church! 

It is our last week of the Holy Moly series this year for Sunday School.

  • PreK: Will have fun!
  • K-4: classes will learn the story of Lazarus from John 11:1-45
  • Middle and High Schoolers: Will continue to plan for youth Sunday.  Please see your email for the planning document.

Next week, May 22, we will be doing a special mission-project to benefit the guests and friends from the Radcliffe Room.  We will be assembling personal care-kits and helping sort clothes for the Radcliffe Room homeless ministry.

For worship play, we will read the story of Pentecost from Acts 2:1-21 from the Desmond Tutu Storybook Bible and the Jesus Storybook Bible.  We will also read a few books from the local library “The Secret Birthday Message” by Eric Carle, “Say Hello, Ciao, Holy, Konichiwa…” by Rachel Isadora and “One Family by George Shannon, which all touch on the important themes of Pentecost:  New Beginnings (birthdays), diversity, and unity within diversity.






Discipleship! Children and Youth for April 17, 2016

Upper Elementary Students Bowling Fun! 

As a reminder, you are invited to PARK-PLAY Saturday, April 16 from 10:00-11:30 am at Bluemont Park in Arlington.  The Tewells will bring the eats.  Hope to see you!  (If you would RSVP to me (alice) if you haven’t already, that would be great.)


Hello!  This week we continue to think and talk about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.  For gathering time, we will continue with the great math problem the upper elementary kiddos started last week.  We will talk about discipleship and JOY, particularly the connection of discipleship to the things we love.  I talk about this idea (and the math) more here.

For worship play, the kiddos will read the story about Tabitha-Dorcus from Acts 9:32-43. I’m preaching on this text this week. The take away for the kiddos is to think about Tabitha’s amazing care and generous acts toward those who needed help the most. (The widows).  We should remember Tabitha as a great disciple who served people by making clothes for them.  Clothes making, especially back then was really hard work!  She might even had to shear the sheep, spin the wool, and then weave it on the loom before even sewing it together. How has someone shown God’s love to you by making you something? How can the kiddos show God’s love by making something with their hands for others? 

If there is enough time, the children will read Miss Fannie’s Hat by Jan Karon and other related books.

During children’s time in worship Marilyn Seiber will be sharing pictures the children at the First Reformed Church of Havana, Cuba made on gratefulness.  Our children will be invited to draw pictures on what gratefulness means for them.  In the context of the Tabitha story, they might think of the feelings of gratefulness the widows felt when making the hand-spun-sewn clothes.  Without Tabitha, they might not clothes to wear!  Tabitha’s hand-made clothes for them were literally life-giving.

For Sunday School, here’s what’s coming up:

  • PreK:  Class 2 of 2 on NOAH!
  • K-4:  Mary and Martha
  • Middle School/ High School:  Statements of Faith Part 2!