Q&A – Forward in Faith, Together in Mission

What is the Forward In Faith, Together In Mission Campaign?

The Forward In Faith, Together In Mission Campaign is one campaign with two purposes and two pledges, similar to the campaign approach implemented in 2015.

  1. The first purpose is to receive commitments for our 2022 Stewardship Appeal. Each Fall as a congregation we prayerfully consider a financial commitment to support the day to day mission and ministry of NYAPC for the upcoming year. This is a one-year commitment.
  2. The second purpose is to receive a capital commitment payable over three years that is over and above our yearly stewardship commitment for 2022.

When will the Forward In Faith, Together In Mission Campaign begin?

The campaign is scheduled for this Fall and will follow our usual Stewardship Appeal timeline. The campaign will be launched on the last Sunday of September and commitments will be received through the middle of November.

What is the purpose of this Q&A?

We are initiating a pre-campaign communication program to inform you, offer opportunities for feedback, and answer questions and concerns. The hope is that when we launch the campaign, you will be grounded in an understanding of the objectives, so the campaign focus will be on growth in faith and generosity together.

How much was raised for capital improvements in 2015 and what was accomplished?

We raised $1.5M for capital improvements. The following was accomplished with the funding:

  • Renovation of the church exterior including brick pointing and cleaning, stabilization of the structure and limestone trim, new outer sanctuary windows improving energy efficiency and protecting the inner stained glass windows, and cleaning and lighting of the steeple, increasing our visibility in the neighborhood.
  • New Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) on the 5th floor, improving control and performance, and replacement of our building’s 50 year old boiler, improving efficiency/reducing consumption.
  • Roof replacement with a more energy efficient roof that has a twenty-year warranty.

What are our capital financial goals now and what do we hope to accomplish?

  1. After prayerful consideration and discernment, consensus for our 2022 Stewardship goal is that it will be set at the same level as for 2020, or $700,000. Your stewardship gifts for the church each year are the top priority because they support our day to day ministries.
  2. Our capital goal is to raise $1.2M – $1.5M, or more, over the next 3 years.

The priority capital needs are a new and energy efficient HVAC system that will serve for decades to come and renovation of the first and fifth floor restrooms. The campaign plan is to address both needs. The initial $1M received will begin to pay down the loan taken to install the HVAC system. With these committed funds in hand, the remaining debt will become more manageable, and a bathroom renovation project can then be initiated, beginning we would hope during the third year of the campaign.

How will this campaign impact our mission and ministry at NYAPC?

Your Stewardship commitment for 2022 will support our day to day ministry and ensure we stay strong and grow in our service, support, and outreach to the congregation and community. Your capital commitment will support our facility, which is a vital tool for ministry and mission. Many of our ministries and overall mission as a congregation depend on the space we provide to be impactful to our community. Your support will provide the fuel to keep our presence visible and service oriented.

Will we need to implement other capital campaigns?

Yes. Depending on what is raised in each campaign, we most likely will need additional campaigns after this one to fully pay off the HVAC loan ($3,000,000) and the work on the restrooms.

What can I do if I have questions or would like more information?

Your ongoing feedback is crucial to our collective success in this important financial effort. You have two ways to convey feedback, ask questions, and receive more information.

  • Come to our next information forum on Zoom, July 21 at 6 pm
    Go to Zoom Meeting or dial 301 715 8592 with Meeting ID: 829 7481 8976

From Rev. Rachel Pacheco

Dear Friends,

The older I get, the faster summer seems to fly by, except possibly last year. I hope you are getting the rest, sunshine, and recreation that you need this season.

This Sunday, July 11, Rev. Shanea Leonard will preach on walking in the light (John 3:19-21). Stan is back this week with some live music and we will sing traditional hymns “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” and “Blessed Assurance.” After worship, there will be a Capital Campaign listening session.

Join us on Zoom at 10:00am Dial: 1-929-436-2866 with Meeting ID: 150 620 342

Since it’s already in my head, here is the first verse of “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” for you to hum along with me throughout the weekend.

Come Thou fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace
Streams of mercy never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above
Praise the mount, I’m fixed upon it
Mount of Thy redeeming love

Peace,
Rachel

Forward in Faith, Together in Mission

Pre-Campaign Information Initiative

You will soon receive a brochure in the mail about our planned Forward in Faith, Together in Mission campaign, scheduled to begin this fall. We are providing this information to inform you, offer opportunities for feedback, and answer questions and concerns.

This will be one campaign with two purposes and two pledges:

  1. The first purpose is to receive commitments for our 2022 Stewardship Appeal. Each fall we prayerfully consider a financial commitment to support the day-to-day mission and ministry of NYAPC for the upcoming year. This is a one-year commitment.
  2. The second purpose is to receive a capital commitment payable over three years that is over and above our yearly stewardship commitment for 2022. The priority capital needs are a new and energy efficient HVAC system that will serve for decades to come and renovation of the first and fifth floor restrooms. The initial $1M received will begin to pay down the loan taken to install the HVAC system. With these committed funds in hand, the remaining debt will become more manageable, and a bathroom project can then be initiated, we hope during the third year of the campaign.

The brochure mailed out on Friday, July 2, contains more information.

Your ongoing feedback is crucial to our collective success. You have two ways to convey feedback, ask questions, and receive more information:

  1. Complete a survey about this campaign. The deadline for responses is July 31.
  2. Come to one (or both!) Information Forums on Zoom:

    – Sunday, July 11 – Following Worship
    – Wednesday, July 21 – 6:00 pm (Watch for the link in the Weekly or on our Events page.)

May 16 Is Youth Sunday

Worship this week is Youth Sunday. The middle school and high school youth have written liturgy, recorded special music, and prepared to lead us all in worship this week. Linda Kelly prepared the sermon, with help from Leo Brigham, and will preach on John 8:2-11 about the woman accused of adultery. There is a youth choir piece, along with some solo and duet hymns. Gather on zoom to experience God at work in this congregation. Linger after worship this week for fellowship and conversation with the youth and one another. It’s been a privilege to walk with them in planning and developing this worship service.

Join us on Zoom at 10:00 am
Dial: 1-929-436-2866 with Meeting ID: 150 620 342

We had an extensive response to the congregational survey. Thank you for your intentionality and time in articulating your perspectives. This information is one of several sources of input for the discernment and planning of church life this summer and fall.

I will be on vacation this week and on a personal spiritual retreat the week after, returning to work on June 2. Email me today or tomorrow if you need anything before I leave.

May you experience God’s love surrounding you this week.

Peace,

Rachel

Summer Worship Plans

In anticipation of returning to the sanctuary for worship this fall (Alleluia! Amen!), the Session has approved a summer worship schedule that has us continuing to worship virtually through at least the end of August. (Our return depends not only on the pandemic but also completion of the HVAC replacement currently underway.)

See the full summer worship schedule here

The summer schedule includes a mixture of regular Zoom worship services (what we’ve been doing throughout the pandemic), simplified Zoom worship services with guest preachers, and two virtual visits to experience how other congregations are worshipping. Each of these visits will be followed the next Sunday by a time of conversation facilitated by Rev. Shortlidge, so we can share our experiences.

Going ‘Hybrid’
This summer worship plan allows our pastors, tech team, and Worship & Music Committee members the space and time they need to think through and build what’s next—a hybrid worship service, broadcast from inside the NYAPC sanctuary.

Throughout the pandemic, a wonderful virtual worshipping community has been cultivated, and we don’t want to lose our virtual worshippers by returning to what was—a one-way livestream from the balcony.

The plan is to use the summer months to organize, build, and practice a hybrid worship service, which includes installing new technology inside the sanctuary. Eventually, the congregation will be welcomed back to the sanctuary for a hybrid service consistent with health guidance at the time.

We understand that some of you are hungry to return to in person worship. This summer plan allows us to do that as quickly and comfortably as our staff, our building, and health guidelines all allow. In the meantime, we’re excited by the variety of voices you’ll be hearing from our virtual pulpit this summer.

Grace and Peace,
The Worship & Music Committee
Co-Chairs, Don Campbell and Meg Neill

Jolts of Awareness: Poetry and Social Action

by Meg Hanna House

Poetry for social action can be thought of as provocation, but poetry can also be “the awareness of an encounter in our lives that we have to face,” said poet Kathleen O’Toole in her Poetry and Social Action class at NYAPC last Saturday. And preserving that experience in a poem not only recognizes the encounter but also challenges us to act.

O’Toole began the class by sharing her poem “Mindful,” written during a retreat in the Sierras of California. (The poem is reprinted below.) The class discussed the striking juxtapositions in the poem, and how difficult it can be for our minds to hold both the beauty of God’s creation and the tragedies of the world.

There are little things that cross your path in life that are like getting a splinter in your finger, that jolt you.

– Kathleen O’Toole

She described her work as “poems of poignant awareness:” Instead of trying to provoke, she hopes to strike a chord.

Another poem, “The Gleaners,” describes school children, some of them immigrants who may have known hunger, responding to a painting by the same name in the Musée d’Orsay. In the poem, “social awareness enters into a scene that’s otherwise childlike innocence,” said O’Toole.

O’Toole has had a career in community organizing, from on-the-ground local efforts to broader work with organizations like Bread for the World and VOICE, the Virginia affiliate of the Washington Interfaith Network. For her, community organizing is a discipline, focused on actionable ways to use power to make a difference. O’Toole has also done community organizing training at NYAPC in the past.

As for poetry’s power? “There are little things that cross your path in life that are like getting a splinter in your finger, that jolt you,” she said. And “sometimes those small things can be woven into something, [into] lament … or praise.”

She closed with a poem she is still working on about the Covid era, which juxtaposes counting blooming irises with counting victims of the pandemic. “Watching what’s blooming was a ritual that became a source of comfort, like a memorial ritual,” she said. “For me, noticing the little things can be a real balm in these times.”

You can find out more about Kathleen O’Toole on her website: https://kathleenotoolepoetry.com/


Mindful

The moment, fleeting as a nuthatch
that alighted on the flowerbox at breakfast,
the lichen-green hummingbird grazing
the impatiens at noon. I toss them
blueberry pits, bread crumbs. This

moment, before a car bomb is planted
beside a schoolyard in Basra,
a swarm of locusts about to alight
on precious maize in Niger. Nuthatch
and nutcracker engineer whole piñón

forests, one seed cache at a time.
The hummingbird’s tongue is longer
than its head and beak, longer
than it needs to extract the dusky
pollen at the petunia’s throat.

Samsara’s in every in-breath, each
shutter click of attention: first warning
signs of famine, children lining up
for the soldiers’ candy, wolf lichen
in a gash on the ponderosa’s downed limb.

From the collection This Far, reprinted with permission from Kathleen O’Toole
https://kathleenotoolepoetry.com/

Celebrating Easter in Triangle Park

Reports from Parish Associate Rev. Dr. Beth Braxton and member Anne Laroche. Photos by Morgan Brown

The Easter service in Triangle Park for our Radcliffe Room* guests was a joy! Our Creator gave us perfect weather!! 

David Smoot set up the microphone system and provided two music stands. Rev. Beth brought a watering can full of flowers, white table cloth, oil lamp and two baskets of bells. When “Christ is risen” was proclaimed in word or song everyone gathered was encouraged to ring their bell and say “He is risen indeed!” There was only one ambulance siren break in Rev. Beth’s message.

Anne Laroche reports she counted 74 guests and a dozen church members/Radcliffe Room volunteers, and that “Rev. Beth’s sermon encouraged us not to be afraid to share the love of Jesus with others and in all types of situations.”

Bob Braxton was a one man tenor choir on his guitar; he played for two verses of two Easter hymns – opening with “Jesus, Christ is Risen Today”  and closing with “The Day of Resurrection.” HIs solo anthem was “Because He Lives” – in which several members of the “Radcliffe Room congregation” sang along on the chorus.

At the close of the service; Rev. Beth played a CD recording of Handel’s “Hallelujah” chorus on her boom box. And John and Cathy Schultheis passed out the most fantastic Easter Treat Bags to each Radcliffe Room guest and volunteers. The bags were filled with daffodils, jelly beans, chocolates of all sorts, and homemade cookies!!! 

Alleluia, He Is Risen. He Is Risen Indeed.

*The Radcliffe Room is a ministry for our neighbors experiencing homelessness.

Urgent Appeal for Presbyterian-Reformed Church in Cuba

from Ruling Elder Marilyn Seiber, who leads our partnership with First Presbyterian Church in Havana, Cuba, part of the PCUSA Cuba Partners Network.

At a webinar on March 4 with leaders and pastors of the Presbyterian-Reformed Church in Cuba, we have learned that the economic situation in Cuba is dire and that the Presbyterian-Reformed Church in Cuba is in extreme financial straits beyond its ability to resolve.

As a result, the PCUSA’s Cuba Partners Network (CPN) has sent out an appeal to help meet the Cuban church’s $75,000 shortfall. CPN has called for an immediate response in order that funds can be transferred to Cuba by Easter Sunday, April 4. 

To support our Cuban Presbyterian Church friends and partners, go to www.nyapc.org/give-now, select credit card/direct debit, and use the drop down menu to select “Cuba Appeal 2021 Fund.” In order to meet the April 4 deadline, all donations should be made no later than Wednesday, March 31.

Background: 

The economic situation in Cuba is now dire—especially for the churches.

Cubans have been hit by the “perfect storm” of Covid, tightened U.S. economic sanctions, and the Cuban Government’s implementation of transitioning to a single currency. Cuban Presbyterian pastors have said that conditions are reaching the same as during the “Special Period” decades ago with shortages of food, medicines, and basic living supplies. The Cuban Government’s monetary policy has quadrupled prices, and the Government has increased subsidies for those employed by the Government and mandated an increased minimum wage for all Cubans. This has left the churches in an untenable financial situation because of increased costs, mandated salaries, and loss of income from congregations because of closed churches. Churches are “outside” the Government’s support program and are unable to pay pastors the mandated wage; pay for electricity, water, other utilities; continue with Synod printed communications; secure supplies and keep mission activities functioning.

The PC(USA) Cuba Partners Network has asked partner churches and individuals to participate in raising $75,000 for the Synod that will support:

  • Pastoral staff – as church employees they dd not receive the recent national pay raise given to state employees and are now at a monthly deficit
  • Printed communications – accurately sharing announcements and news as well as God’s word
  • Food and supplies – the church is negotiating directly with the government
  • Synod activities – children’s camps, electricity at the seminary

Please help our Presbyterian brothers and sisters in Cuba in this time of extreme need for the church!

Dreams, Visions and Apocalypse: Alternative Realities in the Old Testament

God calls us through dreams, interrupts our lives through visions, and we learn through apocalypse to see more, hear more, and imagine more into a future where we make more space in our reality for the divine. – Dr. Judy Fentress-Williams, Virginia Theological Seminary

“It’s been a really good year for the Old Testament,” said Dr. Judy Fentress-Williams as she introduced her McClendon Scholar webinar Saturday March 20. With the experiences over the past year of pandemic and confronting the realities of racism in this country, we are in a place of disorientation, she said, and these ancient scriptures “can help us understand what we do when the world as we know it goes away.”

Our stories resonate – with stories of wilderness, of Noah’s flood, of Israel’s exile. The stories form a kind of virtual reality. We can “try on different personalities, complaining with the Israelites in the desert, experimenting with theo-politics with Israel’s kings. But these alternative realities are not a monolith, she said. On Saturday, she reflected on three: dreams, visions, and apocalypse.

Sharing Sacred Encounters
She started with a look at Psalm 126, which begins “When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.” This is a pilgrimage Psalm, composed to sing on the way to Jerusalem. This dream is a memory of the past, of a time that God made things right. It “evokes the memory of a feeling when God showed up.”

Dreams function as important literary devices in the Old Testament. Jacob’s dream of a ladder with angels ascending and descending in Genesis 28 confirms that Jacob will carry God’s promise forward. And it does more: Jacob’s encounter is not on a mountain, not where he or the ancients would have expected an encounter with God. The good news for us? “Sacred encounters can take place in the most unlikely of places.”

Fentress-Williams explored how dreams function in the story of Joseph in detail, showing how dreams don’t belong to just one person. Joseph accurately interprets Pharoah’s dreams, and saves the nation (and his own family), from famine. “Our dreams are not just for us, but we must invest in other people’s dreams,” she said.

In another dream story, young Samuel hears God calling, but needs Eli to help him understand. This story is not only about God calling Samuel, but about God calling on Eli , an old priest with mistakes in his past, to invest in the dreams of others. The story shows us that “God can use what we get wrong and what we get right,” she said, and helps us consider when it is time to “stop building our own storehouses and invest in someone else’s future.”

Visions as Touchstones
With a vision or visitation, God’s realm enters our own reality. After reading Isaiah’s call narrative from Isaiah 6:1-8, Fentress-Williams pointed out how the words paint a picture of an alternate reality – seraphs with six wings – reminding Isaiah that “he is earthly and this is not.” Prophetic calls are often visual, she said, as if God has to both show us and tell us.

And, just as dreams are not for one person alone, Isaiah’s vision is not for him alone. As a prophet, he must struggle to find language to communicate God’s vision, but with this work, Isaiah helps his people get through, and the vision reminds us that what happens on this earth is only a part of the entire picture. “The vision is Isaiah’s touchstone, … and the vision is shared with us so that it can be our touchstone as well.”

A Glimpse of God’s Realm
Apocalyptic literature also reminds us that our current reality is not the only possibility. This literature comes out of persecuted communities, communities whose experience of their worldly reality is so painful that they develop a dual consciousness. “There is no room to exist in this world, and so the space where they exist is in this other realm,” she said.

The term apocalypse means to reveal or uncover, and these narratives reveal this other realm of God. These communities are also interested in stories that point to a time when God will make things right. When we read them, we should remember the dynamics of power in our own worlds, she said. And these narratives also “remind us that God’s realm is real, revealing things to us that we all need to remember about what it means to be people of God. “

After a Q&A with Rev. Heather Shortlidge, Fentress-Williams concluded by reading Psalm 126:

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then it was said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us,
and we rejoiced.
Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
like the watercourses in the Negeb.
May those who sow in tears
reap with shouts of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
carrying their sheaves.

You can see the full video, including a question and answer Session, on this video recording.

From Rev. Heather Shortlidge

Dear Friends,

Join us for worship this Sunday, March 14th, as we celebrate the one-year anniversary of worshiping online. I’m preaching the story of Nicodemus interrogating Jesus from John 3:1-17. There will be space to reflect upon the past year and our experience of virtual worship, and we’ll also celebrate the sacrament of communion.

Join us on Zoom at 10:00am
Dial: 1-929-436-2866 with Meeting ID: 150 620 342

Do remember your communion elements and that it is Daylight Savings time. And at 2:00pm on Sunday, you are invited to return for a Zoom Memorial Service to celebrate the life of Kathy Walter.

This week, your Session moved forward with several exciting new initiatives, including approving a new, more nimble governing structure for the church. Please plan on attending one of the upcoming “Conversations with the Session” on either March 21 or 28 immediately following worship, in order to hear more from our Elders about the new structure and how it will unfold.

Some poetry by Ellen Bass to sustain you this week:

“The Thing Is”

to love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you’ve held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
your throat filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs;
when grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief,
you think, How can a body withstand this?
Then you hold life like a face
between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you, again.

Peace and Courage,

Heather