I love the Lord, because the Lord has heard my voice and my supplications. 
Because the Lord has listened to me, therefore I will call on the Lord as long as I live
.  Psalm 116.1-2

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.

General Cabinet voted for us to become part. Kathryn came and spoke to us. Funding was applied for and granted. Thirty-one congregations said they want to become part of this presbytery-wide initiative. Prayers of thanksgiving and supplications continue to be raised by many within and beyond our presbytery. We are on the cusp of launching.

Five of our pastors will serve as Facilitators to cohorts of congregational leaders in participating congregations from the Bronx, Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens: Phil Tom, Grace Bowen, Patrick O’Connor, Krystin Granberg, and Clive Neil. All have been through training this past week and will facilitate this Vital Congregations Initiative (VCI) over the next two years.


The Facilitators and I are inviting Ruling Elders of VCI congregations and those still interested in participatng to be oriented to the schedule, the tools, the Facilitators, the cohort groups, have lunch and fellowship together, and answer any other questions you may have about this two-year initiative that the Presbytery of New York City will launch in January 2020. Some preliminary meetings with Facilitators will take place this fall.

Why be engaged? This is a crucial time to awaken to what the Spirit is saying to God’s people. God is calling the church to give witness to what God is doing in our lives and our neighborhoods today. Many churches are in decline and younger generations see no relation between what we say and what we do and choose not to be part. Yet, among us people are showing up where justice and mercy is called for, building bridges of love and acceptance instead of hatred and rejection. Congregations are acting upon what they hear the Spirit saying in Scripture for such a time as these in which we live. Vital Congregations is an initiative, not a program or guaranteed outcome. It calls us to re-turn attention to God, follow the example of Jesus Christ, and receive the courage and counsel of the Holy Spirit. We do it not alone; congregational leaders will meet monthly in cohort groups for fellowship, prayer, conversation, and discernment together.

You will meet our Facilitators at the Presbytery meeting September 28th at Holmes. But plan to participate October 8th. More details on location will follow.

Moderator Chris Shelton reminded us recently that Anne Lamott said the three essential prayers were summed up in these three words: Help. Thanks. Wow. That’s how I feel about the new things the Spirit is stirring up among us. We asked God for help. God has responded in many ways. So I say both thanks and wow—watch what the Spirit of God will do.


Rev. Robert Foltz-Morrison