Simple Honest Conversation

August 24-29 I will be vacationing in Florida and attending a small family reunion celebrating my dad’s 96th birthday. A larger one took place last summer. Not all our family members have lived so long. My mom died 30 years ago at age 66, the communicator always sending cards with beautiful and thoughtful hand-written notes. My oldest sister died 5 summers ago at age 63, a soulmate among my five siblings, with whom I shared common aspirations. My younger sister’s husband and my dad’s second wife died 2 summers ago. These lives missed are not lost on me but leave abiding memories and marks. I look forward to this time together; time for good conversation and deepening relationships while God gives us this time with each other.

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I give thanks to God for answering the prayers of many of us who long for vitality in the communities of faith of which we are part, that support us, that we serve. The Presbyterian Mission Agency also listened and set Kathryn Threadgill and Ray Jones to address these prayers. They prayed too. PMA funds were set aside, a team created, and an initiative to support presbyteries who want to see congregations alive with spirit-inspired worship. lifelong spiritual formation, engagement in their communities, authentic evangelism, empowering servant leadership in the whole church, and exemplifying caring relationships and congregational health.

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Feeling A Different Kind of Pain

This week I was feeling a different kind of pain, not from surgery, but the pain many experience, or re-experience, after hearing the racist tweets from the President of our country (who denies their being racist) and the responses from others emboldened by these tweets. Impulsive racist tweets and responses reflect conscious or unconscious beliefs that have led such persons or others to embrace acts of hatred and violence.

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As I was recovering from bearing physical wounds of surgery, hymns would often come to me as a means of encouragement and support.

Crown him the Lord of love; behold his hands and side, rich wounds, yet visible above,
in beauty glorified; no angels in the sky can fully bear that sight, but downward bends their burning eye at mysteries so bright.

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Rev. Robert Dunham, Interim Pastor, First Presbyterian Church in the City of New York

From an article he wrote for the congregation. The church sits on the PRIDE parade route.

In recent weeks we have been thinking and hearing a lot about Pride, as the world comes to New York City to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Stonewall uprising. I’ve done a good bit of reading about Stonewall of late – about the anger, frustration, and determination of those overheated days and nights. Though it was harder to discern at the time, the anger that erupted along Christopher Street fifty years ago tonight – June 28, 1969 – was a particularly important catalyst in the crusade for rights and recognition.

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Slowing Down

I will see you at the Presbytery meeting June 4th but will be slowing down thereafter to take medical leave June 10-28 (prostate surgery cancer and recovery). The Rev. Mark Tammen, General Presbyter of Long Island Presbytery, and the Rev. Harold Delhagen, Synod Executive, have both offered to be available to help the office staff as needed.

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If you have migrated to America or have persons who migrated to America and are concerned about your or their immigration status, I want to encourage you to meet our PCUSA national immigration attorney, Teresa Waggener, May 31st or June 1st. She is coming to New York City Presbytery at our invitation to meet with persons and their pastors concerned about their status Friday May 31st from 2:00-5:00 PM at The Interchurch Center; and Saturday June 1st from 9:00-11:00 AM at the Rutgers Presbyterian Church. Please reach to those who may want to speak with her. The process of migrating and staying in this country has become fraught with difficulties.

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Why Christian?

Why are you a Christian? In some parts of this world, it could cost you your life. In some parts, it elicits a yawn, a so-what, or a critical remark about Christians.

Several years ago, I read a book written by Douglas John Hall entitled, “Why Christian?”--written as a series of dialogues with inquirers about why be a Christian. It was like an antidote to David Kinnaman’s book “UnChristian” in which the Barna Institute researched why many were not interested in becoming a Christian—too many Christians had become best known for what they were against in their ongoing condemnation of others. This judgmentalism is widespread, not unique to Christians

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Look Who Came!

This past Thursday 80 people from more than 40 congregations gathered in the Rutgers Presbyterian Church to hear how God is stirring the church to re-form for the 21st century. We began with song and prayer. Rev. Dr. Kathryn Threadgill introduced herself and the challenges the church faces and can face. She is the PCUSA’s Office of Theology, Formation, and Evangelism’s face, voice and leader encouraging presbyteries across the nation to invite their congregations into intentional and prayerful relationships with one another and congregational practices that can help pastors and congregations undertake honest assessments and revitalizing action. Starting with a reflection on what we heard in the reading of Isaiah 43, we shared what it inspired in us and what struggles we carry in seeking to revitalize the communities of faith from which we come.

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Things to know

Dear colleagues,

I will be in Ghana with Dr. Yaw Frimpong-Manso and small contingent of PNYC members October 15-25. I will be meeting with leaders of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana and the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Ghana, both denominations having members who have migrated to NYC and are part of this presbytery’s ministry to Ghanaians.

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I Hope You Can Feel That Fresh Perspective

Each morning the sounds of car horns, buses, and student conversations outside my Bronx apartment building reminds me summer vacation is over. Photos posted on Facebook of the children of my nieces and nephews reflect more interest than dismay entering for the first time, or returning, to their schools. I hope you can feel that fresh perspective as you return to your churches and the mission we undertake together as a presbytery in our love for and faithfulness to Jesus Christ.

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The Rev. Robert Foltz-Morrison
Vacation and Vocation

vacare ‘be unoccupied’
"freedom from obligations, leisure, release" (from some activity or occupation)

vocare ‘to call.’
spiritual calling," from Old French vocacion "call, consecration; calling, profession"
a summons or strong inclination to a particular state or course of action

Since the establishment of Vocational Guidance in 1908 by the engineer Frank Parsons, the use of the term “vocation” has evolved, with emphasis shifting to an individual's development of talents and abilities in the choice and enjoyment of a career.

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Pentecost 2018 – Faithful Witness, Faithful Resistance

The simple trust and complexities of being a witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ unfold throughout the Book of Acts. The Spirit’s work of enabling disciples to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ in languages that all nations could hear, initially is interpreted by outsiders as early morning drunken babbling. Yet, once the Spirit speaks to the heart of what God is doing in the world, many find themselves coming to Jesus.

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It's Mother's Day Weekend

In John’s telling of the crucifixion, when Jesus was lynched on a cross with crowds deriding him and his life almost over, he looked and saw his mother and told his beloved disciple John to look after her. I couldn’t help but remember how many mothers could use a disciple of Jesus to also look after them. We have aging mothers, many grandmothers and great-grandmothers, in our congregations, living alone in apartment buildings or nursing homes. What disciple of Jesus looks after them?

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Annual Meeting, Elections, Installations

This is a reminder that our next presbytery meeting will be held May 15 at the First Presbyterian Church, Jamaica, NY. It is our Annual Meeting and will include the election of persons to serve on presbytery committees, the installation of our new moderator (Sandy Lane) and moderator-elect (Chris Shelton), commissioning of our General Assembly delegates, the audit, my annual report, thanks to those completing presbytery service, and other items of governance from our presbytery committees. The meeting will begin in the afternoon and conclude with worship, probably after dinner.

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Free Webinar on the Moral and Theological Basis for Nonviolent Moral Fusion Direct Action

Friends - 

Join Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival Co-Chairs Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis on Thursday, March 22 at 4pm (EST), for a free webinar on the moral and theological basis for Nonviolent Moral Fusion Direct Action, as well as updates on the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival! 

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The Rev. Mark Koenig