New York City Presbytery's Vital Congregations Initiative

This past Monday the Rev Stephany Graham Walker spoke at the Presbytery’s Rosa Parks/Martin Luther King, Jr. Service at Eastchester Presbyterian Church. She selected a passage from the Book of Deuteronomy in which Moses reminds the people not to forget the commands God has given them and a passage from the Revelation to John in which one of the churches is reminded to repent, that is, to turn back to God lest their light be taken away. To see this past October a Christian chapel at Cape Coast Castle built directly above the prison in which Africans were chained before being taken into the triangle slave trade displayed the depth of humanity’s inhumanity when other ideologies take precedence over the commands God requires of us and Jesus manifested as Word made flesh. There can be no love of God and neighbor where human beings are treated as commodities of trade, property, or worse. A continuing government shutdown reveals such behaviors and ideologies are ever ready to emerge again and again when we forget how we are to treat all our neighbors. And when the church is silent or complicit, when it turns away from helping those in need or oppressed, its light goes out and we can expect a prophetic voice to come from somewhere else where the Spirit of God is moving. But when the church repents and follows the Spirit of God, it can become again a vital witness of the gospel for which Jesus gave his life, bringing good news that liberates, redeems, and heals.

Can we be such a church, a light to the nations, the salt of the earth, a witness of God’s love and justice?

Can we do that better together in relationships with each other as a presbytery of many congregations, bearing witness in New York City? We have an opportunity before us.

The national church called my office Tuesday to say the Presbytery of New York City has been accepted as one of 14 presbyteries to which they are willing to provide trainings and resourcing so that all of our congregations may become such vital witnesses to the gospel of Jesus Christ in New York City. I hope you can appreciate and celebrate this news and become part of it.

The Rev. Kathryn Threadgill will deliver the message in person, this invitation for all of us to become part of this initiative called Vital Congregations, at the Rutgers Presbyterian Church, Thursday, February 7th from 8:30-1:00. Every Presbyterian congregation and fellowship has received an invitation. All you have to do is call or email the presbytery office to let us know how many of you will be coming so our staff know how much food and materials to have on hand for you.

Rev. Stephany called us this week not to forget the dream of Dr. King was deeply tied to his faith and trust in God. The Spirit of God will give us dreams and send us messengers that inspire us to fulfill what God asks of us. All we need are those who are willing to step forward and say, “Here I am, send me.”

Look forward to seeing you February 7th at the Rutgers Presbyterian Church.

Robert Foltz-Morrison