Pledge Dedication Sunday

Tracy Branding, Stewardship Committee member and Helen Anthony, Stewardship Chair

Good Morning,

I’m Helen Anthony, the Chair of Stewardship. Leading the Stewardship Campaign the past two years has given me an even greater appreciation for all members of our church. As I receive the weekly updates from our church accountant, I see church members of every age group planning to include New York Avenue in their monthly budgeting for the coming year. With each entry, I am also reminded of the work that each person does throughout the year to help New York Avenue in various ways. Whether that is through serving on a Board, as a Sunday School teacher, or being a friendly face on Sunday mornings, our church needs every one of us to be a welcoming, thriving, and united community throughout the year.

While Stewardship is just once a year, contingencies arrive in front of our Board members all year long. We hope that you will consider our suggested pledge increase of 5% to help us mitigate these currently unknown future needs.

We need your generosity to help us as we move further into our time of transition, sharing with and supporting our community.

Today, on Pledge Dedication Sunday, we are asking everyone to complete a Dedication Card, which you will find in your bulletin. Take the next few moments to complete your card, and during our next hymn please bring it up along with any pledges and offerings to the baskets at the front to symbolize our dedication to New York Avenue Presbyterian Church.

Thank you

Stewardship: Choir

8:45 ServiceIMG_1087

This year’s stewardship theme is Sharing Strength – Building Faith – Gifts United in Christ. The Stewardship Committee invited members of the choir to talk about how our pledges support our congregation’s worship and music.

For me, music has been a key part of how I’ve grown in faith. One of my earliest memories is of being surrounded by a sea of blue choir robes while my parents rehearsed, and even today, there are times I sit up straighter when I hear a scripture passage, realizing I know what’s coming because I’ve sung the words in a hymn or an anthem.

Music helps us remember. It also brings us together in worship. Studies have shown that when we sing together, our heartbeats synchronize. When Stan plays the organ and we sing a hymn, we’re sharing strength and building faith. When Taisha works with our youth choirs, we are building faith and memory – maybe someday they too will sit up a little straighter when they hear something that they’ve sung.

Our pledges support our worship and music, building our faith and community. I hope you’ll support our church with a financial pledge this year, so we can keep singing, together.

Meg House

11:00 Service

You’ve heard about stewardship these last several weeks, and today I’m going to talk about it as it relates to music at New York Avenue.

My father was a preacher’s kid, so we went to church.  I’ve been to a lot of church services. There are some sermons that have stuck with me over the years, and certainly some scripture that’s very familiar—some I know by heart.  But the music is what has the power to bring me back to a time, a place, a feeling of being part of a community and of being loved by them and by God.

The first hymn I learned was probably “Jesus Loves Me,” and I can still picture the Sunday school classroom where we sang it when I was 3 or 4 years old—and put our offering in a little bank shaped like a church.  When we sing the hymns I grew up with—like “Holy, Holy, Holy—I think of my home church. And when we sing “Praise Ye the Lord, the Almighty,” or “Now Thank We All Our God” (which was our introit today), I think of our wedding day, because those are the hymns we used.  I love seeing the children of this church singing or playing their instruments, and it reminds me of how supported I felt when I did that as a kid; I knew that my church family would love me no matter how I played the flute. I hear my parents’ favorite music, and I think of them, and of my mother’s certainty that when she got to heaven she’d finally be a singer.  It’s fitting that at memorial services, the preludes are often “hymns of the faith”—they really carry us from birth to death.

What does this have to do with stewardship?  Pledging helps the Session plan the budget, and fulfilling those pledges helps pay for Stan, and for our wonderful choral associates, who add so much to the choir.  They pay for the instrumentalists who join us sometimes—what would Easter be without brass, or some of the special pieces we sing, without strings? They pay for Taisha’s leadership of the children’s choirs, and new music for them to sing.  And organs and pianos aren’t instruments you can just buy and forget—they need regular tuning and maintenance, and consistent temperatures and humidity in the sanctuary to sound their best. All of that requires money.

We as Presbyterians believe that the Word is central—not only the Word preached and read, but the Word sung and interpreted in music.  Protestants have been singing “A mighty fortress is our God” for 500 years. Music is an important part of worship, and of the life of this church, and your pledges help ensure that it will continue to be.  Thank you.

Meg Neill

Stewardship: Our Church Staff

img-8931.jpgGood Morning,

I have had the honor of serving as the chair of the Personnel Committee for the past four years. During that time, there are two things among many that stand out as having left the most positive impressions on me:

First is the energy and dedication with which everyone employed by New York Avenue brings to the church each day. This was made clear to me through my own experiences here and, even more so, through the feedback I receive from others. For example, just last week someone told me how impressed they were with the efforts of the building staff in setting up for weddings and other third party events, breaking down and cleaning up afterwards. A couple weeks ago you heard Heather tell the story about Robin assisting the woman camped out outside one of the church entrances waiting for the Day Center to open. A couple months ago I heard about how David Smoot gave a tour of the church to a family of tourists who knocked on one of the church doors at a time when the church was closed and he was the only person here. These are just a few example, but there are many others.

Whether it’s Sunday services or any of the many many activities that take place here such as the Radcliffe Room, the Day Center, Community Club, McClendon Center, church board meetings or the activities of outside individuals or groups, there are many people conducting those activities, but the underlying foundation to all of them is the work of all of the church personnel. The staff are who make those go.

Second and equally impressive is the congregational mindfulness to the staff’s well being and the impact on staff through church activities. During my six years on Session, we have taken up many significant projects. During the discussion of nearly all of them one of the questions that always comes up has been, “This sounds great, but what will we be asking of the staff and how will they be affected? Are we taking care of the staff?” That experience is one of many that makes me grateful to be a part of this community.

The entire staff, pastoral and non-pastoral, take care of us as a congregation and we take care of them. In light of them I ask that you consider their work when considering an annual pledge for 2020.

Brian Schimming, Ruling Elder, Chair of Personnel

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,


Congregational Sunday: Mission Fair

20190929_102336Today, we celebrate your special participation in New York Avenue Presbyterian Church’s Stewardship Campaign for 2019 and 2020 – what impact you have made and will make on our programs and mission.

Sometimes just a bit of history can put how we got here to this Share Fair – and to our Stewardship Campaigns each year in perspective. Philanthropy and giving can be traced all the way back to Cotton Mather in 1662 who said “Let no man pretend to the name of a Christian, who does not approve the proposal of a perpetual endeavor to do good in the world.”

Voluntary charitable organizations established by religious groups originated in the colonial era and in the mid 1700s, Benjamin Franklin “trained” early Americans in giving for charitable causes and civic benefit.

Presbyterians as a domination were a major part of colonial life as far back as the colonial war. And in 1789 during our first General Assembly, our earliest national church members emphasized the connecting nature of our church and encouraged educational, missionary, evangelical and reforming work.  Outreach mission to Native Americans, African Americans and populations all over the world became a hallmark of the church. This broadened to women’s issues civil rights and other social justice issues along with diversity in congregations.

There is an inherent belief in our core values that giving transforms the giver, making meaningful contributions in the aggregate collectively makes a real difference in the life and expressions of true partnerships and making an impact, for our church and ourselves as members of Christ’s body.

Support of our mission as manifested in our spiritual nurture to us as members each Sunday assures continuous support in our daily lives and decision making; informs and reinforces our moral compass. In tandem, our support assures that staff and volunteer solidarity and mission outreach like you see represented here are expanded.  

Giving to churches by Americans continues to be the largest sector by far of all giving, more than 31% of the total given each year. We join hundreds of thousands of other Christians in supporting so altruistically the work of Christ in our own lives and in the lives of those we serve in our community and the world.

By your gifts your dedication, your thoughtful generosity, you make a difference at New York Avenue Presbyterian Church. Your gifts help us open our doors every day. Your gifts help support our very special ministers, and make our wonderful choir and music program, the Radcliff Room Ministry, Community Club, Cuba Partners, McClendon Center and McClendon Scholars, and Kenya Partnership living breathing impactful and beneficial programs that touch the lives of many every week, every month.

For the Stewardship Campaign, please join with us again for 2020 in making a profound difference in the world; we are grateful for all of you who have stepped forward thus far, and who give of your time and financial resources here.  

This church – and Christ’s love and work – provide strength and spiritual sustenance in your lives. Your generous giving reciprocally to this resource that helps so many not only provides invaluable financial partnership in our programs – but also provides incalculable well-being in our own hearts and minds, each day, all year.

Laura Brouse-Long, Stewardship Co-Chair20190929_100947

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.