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Farewell Party for Pastor Terri, Sunday, June 28th. following worship

farewell-party-t

Join us for a Farewell BBQ & POTLUCK for PASTOR TERRI

Sunday, June 28th.

 All are Welcome to join us for Worship service at 10:00am.  Then spend the afternoon at the

 Farewell BBQ & Potluck for Pastor Terri.  We are collecting a Farewell Purse for Pastor

 Terri.  Your contribution can be given to any Deacon or Session member.

 The sign up for the Potluck is in the Narthex.

Celebration of the Commissioning of Reverend Terri Ofori

Pastor Terri SynodThe Synod of the Northeast welcomes Reverend Terri Ofori, the newly appointed Bloomfield College Chaplain as well as Chaplain to the Synod Commission.

A Service of the Worship of God and a Celebration of the Commissioning of Rev. Terri Yvette Ofori as Chaplain of Bloomfield College.

Please join us Sunday, May 3, 2015 at 3pm  at the Bloomfield Presbyterian Church on the Green, 147 Broad Street, Bloomfield, NJ  07003

Pastor’s Post for May 2015

Terri in light

“It is because one antelope will blow the dust from the other’s eye that the two antelopes walk together”- African Proverb

This is one of my favorite African proverbs. It is describing the role of community in the life of believers. When we come together as a church community we in essence blow the dust from each other’s eyes by learning to live and love together. We are in this process of becoming the beloved community together. It is in our questioning, listening and loving that we are challenged and we are ultimately transformed.

I am literally writing this letter with tears in my eyes 1) because I am preparing myself to leave a place that I have called home for over two years 2) because I suffered a corneal abrasion that resulted from the side effects of my recent surgery. It feels like I have dust is in my eyes. The preacher in me is always listening for sermons so when I thought about my eye situation the African proverb quoted above came to mind. If you listen closely you can hear God speaking in even the mundane things of life As Mother’s Day approaches I also give thanks for the gift of my mother. I can remember as a child having my mother blow something from my eyes. I am sure many of you can relate to the relief you felt when your mother did that same thing for you. A mother’s love blows dust from our eyes and refreshes our hearts. So how do adults blow dust from each other’s eyes? Surprisingly it comes from using our ears and not our eyes.

We can hear most clearly when we pray. Prayer is vital to listening to God and each other. This posture of “prayerful listening” is vital to a healthy community where God’s beloved children dwell. When we listen we can see things better. The spiritual dust is removed from our eyes or as Oprah likes to call it , you have an “aha” moment, Members of the beloved community engage in spiritual listening when we pray together and commune with God and each other. Communion is not just about sharing in the sacrament of communion but about breaking bread with one another in sacred fellowship. We practice “prayerful listening “ and commune with each other when we allow our differing opinions to be heard and respected and allow for the space and time to process what was heard in worship and live it out during the week. When this happens we learn to love and respect each other and learn from the things we understand and to accept the things that we don’t.

We can choose to listen and be propelled forward by the positive voices or succumb to the negative voices of failure. The scriptures admonish us to encourage each other to good works and to continue in fellowship with one another. It is important that we keep listening to the good voices or as I like to say the “God voice” inside of us that affirms and confirms God’s good plans for us. Scripture informs us that God’s plans for us are good and not evil. I love the way the Message Bible says it “I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen.” Jeremiah 29:11-12

In my years of ministry I have learned that the same God that calls you to a people and a place is the same God who walks with you through the good times and the bad with those same people. The key is to learn the lessons and to try your best to listen to what God is saying in the midst of it all and to remember that God’s plans for us are good and not evil. When we keep this in mind we can be thankful and grateful for the grace of God at work in our lives and trust that God is guiding us.

One thing I know for sure, God has guided me to this special church and this special people, for such as time as this.  I want to fulfill my calling and to help you become the church you were destined to be. I am looking forward to walking with you in the coming months as we walk out the Interim process and being to try new ways of worship and outreach in our community. Spring is here and it’s a time for new beginnings. I feel like I have been saying that almost every month now since I have been here. If we allow the dust to be blown from our eyes we will begin to see more clearly the good work that God has already begin in us.

I hope that with God’s help, I was able to blow the dust from your eyes and help you to see yourselves as the strong congregation that you really are. I will miss all of you dearly.   I am very thankful to God for the opportunity to serve here at the First Presbyterian Church of Levittown. You have helped me to grow and to blow dust from my eyes. My prayer is that the Lord will help us to continue to be faithful servants in the work of building up Christ’s church.

In Christ’s Service,

Pastor Terri

Pastor’s Post for April 2015

Terri in light

Happy Easter!

Easter is not a day. Easter, or Eastertide, is a season. It lasts from Easter Sunday until the Day of Pentecost, which occurs 50 days after Easter. The fifty days between Easter and Pentecost on the Christian calendar was developed as a season of discipleship for new converts to learn what it meant to be a disciple of Christ and about the Christian life. The early leaders of the faith used this time to explain the mysteries of the faith to the newly baptized, and to encourage those already in the faith to discern their spiritual gifts and to strengthen themselves and others through ministries. During Eastertide we read several stories of how the resurrected Christ appeared to a number of different people and how those people responded. For example, this week we read about how Jesus appeared to his disciples on the evening that the empty tomb was discovered.

Eastertide is not only about the resurrection of Christ, but also about the resurrection of our lives. It is a season to remember that power that raised Christ from the dead can also cause us to live lives of victory in this world. I want to encourage you during the fifty days of Eastertide to explore the resurrection of Jesus Christ in particular, especially in terms of what it means for believers and their ongoing life in Christ. It is no wonder that Christians are called believers. We believe that a man died and came back to life! But that is not all that we believe, we believe that the man, Christ Jesus, was God in the flesh and that because God loved us so much he came to earth to have fellowship with us and then die for our sins! Whoa! That is some heavy stuff. Yet we believe. The Lectionary gospel text for the second Sunday of Easter highlights the mystery of our faith. In response to the doubts of Thomas the disciple, Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” John 20:29

Christians believe Jesus came to this earth to deliver a message from God that is so true that it applies for all time and is relevant for all people. It is, for us, an eternal message.

And what is this message from God that Jesus Christ came to share? Simply that God loves us.

  •  God does not want to punish people, but to be reconciled with them.
  •  God does not want to hurt people, but to heal them.
  • God does not want to pass judgment upon people, but to give them grace.

There is no such thing as Easter Day. Easter is about the resurrection, renewal of life and hope. Because Eastertide is the Christian confession that is that Jesus is God made flesh, and that through his death and resurrection we can have new life, not just for a season but all year long. This is more than just good news, this is amazing grace. We are loved and forgiven by God, therefore we can forgive others.

Live, Love and Forgive

Your is Christ,

Pastor Terri

Call for Congregational Meeting May 17, 2015

Congregational-Meeting

Call for Congregational Meeting May 17, 2015

A Special Congregational Meeting of the First Presbyterian Church of Levittown NY is called for Sunday, May 17, 2015 in the Sanctuary following the 10 AM Worship Service. The purpose of this meeting is to present the Budget for the 2014 Annual Report, to review the progress of the Levittown-Massapequa Steering Committee’s work as well as any other business which may be properly brought before the Congregation.

Called by order of the Session: Rev. Terri Cissé Ofori, Moderator, Maria Studer, Clerk of Session.

 

 

Pastor’s Post for March 2015

Terri in light

The Christian community worldwide is journeying together toward the mystery of the resurrection. Lent is good time for reflection and to prepare for spring by doing spring-cleaning for the soul.   Of course it seems like spring will never come amidst all of the snow and ice. Just as it seemed to the dismal disciples that Jesus would never arise from the grave, we know spring is coming because God is faithful.  When we spring clean our earthly homes we sometimes find that we have to throw some things away. The same thing happens with spiritual spring-cleaning. When we spend time in spiritual reflection we may discover that we have a room full of old hurts, wrong beliefs and regrets that we need to throw away. Lent is a time to strengthen our faith even in the face of what appears to be insurmountable. The same is true of Christians when encountering the Easter mystery. Christ’s death by crucifixion and three days in the tomb – it seems like all is lost. But it’s only a death that leads to new life and an ending, which leads to a new beginning in Christ, if we have the faith to see it and believe it!

Anyone can speak what he or she sees, but it takes faith to speak what we want to see. Anyone can state the obvious, but it takes faith to see the invisible and call it forth! It takes faith to prepare for spring when it is snowing in March! Our Lord Jesus always spoke the good that He wanted to see happen. He said, our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.” Everyone else thought that Lazarus was dead because he was already wrapped in grave clothes and in a tomb. But Jesus spoke of Lazarus as being alive. Jesus called forth what He wanted to see. He said, “Lazarus, come forth! And he who had been dead for four days arose and came out of the tomb (John 11: 43-44).

As the Interim Pastor, I am coming close to the end of my journey here with you. I am hopeful that the Levittown Frist Presbyterian Church will move forward with its mission and ministry. We have been through a winter of sorts, but just as sure as I know that spring is coming, I know that Levittown will enter a new season of revival. It is my prayer that the new pastor will boost morale and membership. We have endured the dormancy of winter the time has come to we enjoy a fruitful spring harvest of blessings for our church and community.

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Terri

Interim Pastor

January 2015 – Pastor’s Post

Cornell Bulletin

God With Us!

In the first week of the calendar year the church celebrates Epiphany.  The name “Epiphany” comes from the Greek word Epiphania, it means “to show, make known, or reveal.”  For Christians, Epiphany is to serve as reminder of God the Father’s unlimited love and mercy, which He has extended to all of humankind through the revelation of His Son, and of the hope of salvation that is now manifest for all who come to him in faith.

The dictionary defines epiphany as a sudden and profound understanding of something.  Oprah Winfrey has an article that is featured in her magazine entitled   “ What I Know for Sure,” in these articles she expounds on what she calls “aha moments”  and shares  a moment of epiphany about her various  life experiences.   The one thing I know for sure is that we need an epiphany of the awareness of God’s presence to encourage our hearts and to help us see Christ as Emmanuel (God with us) in our daily lives.  God wants us to have a sudden and profound awareness that He is Emmanuel, God with us and that we are never alone.  This awareness of God takes a special work of the Holy Spirit because it is hard to remember and easy to forget that God is with us when we face trials or even the mundane rituals of life.  good works.

As I begin the New Year, my prayer is that I will have not just one but several epiphanies of God’s presence in my life.  I challenge you to do the same.   When we recognize that God is with us our worries and fears will have to take a back seat.  We can let God take the wheel and let peace reign in our hearts.

The scriptures say that Christ is “Emmanuel God With Us.”  We are reminded of this during the joyous holiday season. But God promises to be with all year, not just at Christmas time.  Now that Christmas is over and the carols are no longer being sung, and the beautiful displays taken down, can you still sing the words “joy to the world and peace on earth good will to all?” When you have an epiphany of God’s presence every day, you will experience an inner peace that gives you joy that lasts all year long despite change and circumstances.

We have many changes ahead for us this year; we will be sharing ministry and worship with the Massapequa Community Presbyterian and most importantly preparing for the coming of a new pastor. We don’t know what any of this will look like or what the future holds for us but the one thing I know for sure is that God is with us and that we can trust that He will lead us in the right paths.

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Terri

Interim Pastor

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Pastor’s Post for December

Cornell Bulletin

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of people complaining about the decline of the church. Don’t get me wrong, I’m as aware of the dismal statistics as you are. But I’m tired of hearing them for two reasons. First, precisely because we already know them, I’m just not sure how helpful it is to repeat them to ourselves endlessly. Second, because it’s not the whole story. There is a lot of growth, a lot of potential, and a lot of hope in our congregations as well as decline. Moreover, the Spirit is moving in exciting ways and I am firmly convinced that we are on the cusp of exciting, if unpredictable, renewal.

And I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. You, for starters, may feel the same way—aware of the challenges but far more excited about the opportunities in front of us. Recognizing that we’re not alone is important, as together we are a lot more likely to participate in the Spirit’s renewal than you or I could possibly do alone. Congregations are a primary place where the Spirit is at work for the renewal of the Church and spread of the Gospel. This conviction is important because there are a lot of folks who have all but given up on congregations and, along with it, their leaders. Most tragically, some of the people who have given up on congregations and their leaders are, in fact, the leaders themselves.

I am excited to report on the other hand, that this fall the Presbyterian Churches in Nassau County decided to come together not to talk about their problems but to look for solutions to their problems. There are a number of interesting conversations taking place. For example, our church is entering into a conversation with the Massapequa Community Presbyterian Church to discuss ways to do shared ministry. Let me be clear we are not talking about a merger but sharing activities and in the near future perhaps sharing a pastor.  The session and I will keep you informed as to how our conversations are developing every step of the way.

As we embark upon Advent (the Christian new year) and celebrate Christmas it is a chance to look back on the year and imagine where, how, why, and when Christ’s ideal of the world has had power in our lives. At the same time, it is an invitation to look forward and see how you want that to be true in your future. This is an opportunity for us as a congregation to begin to think about the new things we want to do and to construct resolutions that will create change.

We always wait for January to get on with our lives, but what would happen if we chose to get on with life now? How would Advent and Christmas be different?  Perhaps our preparation would actually reflect the reality of Christ’s kingdom. Christ’s reign will not wait until Christmas or our New Year’s resolutions will not be limited to January.  The spirit does not want us to wait until we feel fully prepared and perfect to make a difference. No the opportunity to serve Christ is here and now. What if Christ is calling us today?  Let us answer, here I am Lord, send me.

The whole purpose of Advent and Christmas is to demonstrate to the world that Christ reigns.  We sing the songs, and give the gifts and shine our lights brightly but we stop singing, stop giving, and take down our lights as if Christ no longer reigns at the end of December. Does Christ only reign in December?  No, we sing and believe that He (Christ) shall reign forever and ever! It is my prayer that the same expectation and excitement that surrounds us as if we wait for Christmas would fill our hearts as we look for the possibilities of revival and renewal in our congregation this coming year!

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Terri

Interim Pastor

Pastor’s Post for November

Cornell Bulletin

      November is the time of the year that we set aside to give thanks. Of course, we need to give God praise and thanks throughout the year but we are especially mindful at this time of year. I am particularly thankful for the journey that I have shared with you as Interim Pastor of this blessed church. We are embarking upon 65 wonderful years of ministry in this community.  It is a great accomplishment for a church to be able to withstand the shifting sands of culture and time. But alas, we are still here, you are still here. I am glad that our church is still standing and still serving as a light of the gospel in an ever increasing dark world.

The changing times are providing churches with a challenge to reexamine the way they do ministry and how they will function in a world that is markedly different from when some of our churches were first built.  I am confident that the Levittown Presbyterian church is up to the challenge of change.   Our elders and deacons are doing the work of reflection and discernment to determine where we need to go as a congregation.   I am happy to report that we have completed 4 stages of the Interim Ministry Process  which are;  1) Coming to terms with history  2)Discovering a new identity  3)Managing shifts of new leadership  4) Rethinking denominational linkages.  We are now entering stage 5 which is commitment to new leadership and a new future.   During this stage we will begin the process to complete a CIF (Church Information Form) necessary to call a new pastor.  In reality, given our financial situation, it would likely be a call for a temporary supply pastor or part time stated supply pastor.  The good news, however, is that there are many possible models for ministry that our church can examine going forward.  One of them is to look at the possibility of entering into shared or yoked ministry with another church.

The Presbyterian Community Church of Massapequa has extended an offer for us to consider the possibility of entering into shared ministry.   In that both of our churches, (Levittown and Massapequa) recognize the same issues; decreasing membership, financial support, and Sunday morning worship attendance, it would seem advantageous to open a dialogue for very preliminary discussions concerning a possible mutual ministerial presence and shared mission and outreach. This of course is truly the basic question that must be addressed before any other discussions or actions can take place.  Do we want to create a new realm of ministry in our communities?  Members of our session and deacons were asked to meet with  the elders and deacons of the Massapequa Church along with a representative from COM and our General Presbyter to moderate the combined meeting of the respective boards and to answer basic questions and to confirm the willingness to unify ministry.

A meeting was held on October 20th to examine and discuss how we can best decide among the leadership of both churches that a new unified ministry is to be considered.   Once it was established that we did indeed want to explore the possibility of mutual ministry we took time to discuss issues and concerns as well as opportunities that would arise if we undertook such an endeavor.  Most agreed that shared ministry would be cost effective and may present an opportunity for increased membership and help with the churches overall mission.  As expected realistic concerns were raised about the future of both buildings and nursery schools if we decided to merge.  We were informed by COM that we have a long way to consider a major merger of ministries but we were encouraged to begin thinking of ways that we can share in ministry through various means such as pulpit exchanges, shared Bible studies and the like.  It was decided to form a combined committee will be formed and made up of three members from both Levittown and Massapequa to initiate the process of working together towards  a plan for shared ministry.    When the committees meet and come up with a plan of action we will follow up with a congregational meeting to keep everyone in the loop.   The Presbytery also offered to serve as a resource and to help us once it is determined how we decide that we will work out this mutual ministry.

      I am excited about the possibilities that await us.  I think it is a win – win situation for both churches as we will benefit from collaborative leadership which is sure to bring new ideas and renewed energy in addition to saving money on clergy costs. The elected leaders of our congregation will lead the way in determining how we will go forward but it will be important for them to hear your feedback and for you to participate in the process as it unfolds. Of course, any, thoughts, ideas, and plans for ministry must be supported by prayer and participation in the process. I ask that you continue to pray for our church and how God might be leading us in the near future.

Yours in Christ,

 

Pastor Terri

Interim Pastor