Tag Archive | Presbyterian

Pastor Katie’s Weekly Letter

UNITED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH

Levittown Campus Massapequa Campus 474 Wantagh Avenue, Levittown 150 Pittsburgh Avenue, Massapequa

March 26, 2020

Weekly Pastor’s Letter…

Dear Church, I hope this letter finds you safe and healthy and sheltered in your homes. As we go through this time together, please reach out if you have any needs. We know that many people in our church have underlying medical conditions, and we are urging our “older” folks to use caution about even going out to the stores for supplies. Please reach out to your deacons or elders, call the church office, or call me at (805) 448-9641 if there’s any way we can be of assistance.

I am sad to share that Eleanor Novotny passed away on March 23. Eleanor was a long time member of the United Presbyterian Church, Levittown Campus and lived to be 101 years old. Please say a prayer for Eleanor and her family.  Eleanor requested that there not be a service. When we gather in person again we will honor her during our regular Sunday worship service. If you have stories or memories of Eleanor, please take a few minutes to email them to the church office and we will make sure Janice Newsome and the family receives them.

I’m happy to share that Wendy is home from her surgery and is recuperating. She is grateful for all of your prayers and hopes to join us for the Zoom calls again soon.

I’m also happy to share that Wayne is doing well. He joined our worship call on Sunday last, and I look forward to working with him in April to add more music into the worship services!

We continue to meet daily by Zoom conference calls (M/W/F at 12noon and Su/Tu/Th at 7pm), and we will be worshiping on Sundays at 10am, also by Zoom conference call. Thanks especially to Feiona, Ella, Stella, Robin, Joan, Sharon, Paul and others who made worship possible last week and this week! If you are interested in reading scripture, singing, or participating in other ways with worship, please contact Sharon or myself.

To join the zoom calls from any phone, cell phone, tablet or computer:

Call in by phone: (646) 558 8656 when prompted, enter the meeting number: 832 316 0543
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Using the Zoom app join with the meeting number: 832 316 0543
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Using a computer, click on this link:
https://zoom.us/j/8323160543

Sunday’s sermon will be on the valley of the dry bones depicted by the prophet Ezekiel. I hope you’ll join us for worship as we figure out how to do this without our buildings…

We expect that we will not be gathering in person for Holy Week. However our Worship Committee will be meeting next week to talk about some ways to celebrate that time through our conference call gatherings. We know that not everyone has the technology to see video, so we are committed to creating worship services that are accessible by a regular phone. We will also be working to create some video content to compliment the audio. If you are interested in being part of that conversation, please contact Sharon or myself and we’ll add you to the call.

Many thanks to our Deacons and Elders who have made it possible for UPC to pivot on a dime and keep our community connected, even as we cannot gather physically. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to work with in the first month of my ministry as we navigate a global disaster together!

Finally, in this time of enforced isolation (even as some of us are isolated in larger groups!), I offer you this reflection by Mecca Jamilah Sullivan:

“I am not a quiet person. But I can use quiet. To let myself choose quiet is to value my voice, my time, my energy, my words. It is to know that if the words are not there, they will come. To let myself choose quiet is to know that, sometimes, the most important thing is not to change or teach unwilling others, but to take care of myself. Sometimes the loudest thing we can do—the most generative, most disruptive, most rambunctious, most radical, most revolutionary thing we can do—is give ourselves what we need. Time. Space. Rest. Energy. Love. Quiet.”

No matter where you are right now, no matter who you are with, take some time to be quiet as the world is shutting down temporarily. There will be plenty of time to be productive, make noise, celebrate, be LOUD. But for right now, rest and refresh. Regain lost energy. Allow yourself to know who you are when everything slows down.

And for those of you who are still working, essential personnel who are keeping the world alive right now, you have our deepest gratitude for that work. If we can be helpful to you, please let us know. If we can treat you with dinner or supplies or a friendly ear, please let us know.

Blessings to all and I hope to see you soon…

Rev. Katie Mulligan

Pastor, United Presbyterian Church (805) 448-9641 katiesmulligan@gmail.com

Pastor’s Post – February 2019

From-the-Pastor-2

A few days ago, members of Session and I attended a lunch with representatives of a new program of the Presbyterian Foundation called “Project Regeneration.”  Along with people from several other Long Island congregations, we listened to a presentation that provided information about congregations around the country much like ours:  that is, established churches that once had hundreds of members and now are much smaller and struggling to maintain their ministry.  This lunch was designed to be the first of four gatherings to be held over the next year on Long Island to explore ways churches are responding to their situation, especially financial strategies.

Although it was not said in so many words, the theme of this first lunch seemed to be: “You are not alone in your experience of decline.”  Here are just a few of the facts that were shared with us:

The national Presbyterian Church in the USA (PCUSA) has lost over a third of its membership in the last fifteen years and has 13% fewer congregations.

A “typical” Presbyterian is 63 years old.  The average American is 38 years old.

The median Presbyterian congregation has 81 members.

85% of mainline Protestant churches (Presbyterian, Methodist, Episcopalian etc) have plateaued in membership or are declining.

If the sanctuary is less than 40% full for worship, visitors are much less likely to return.

Congregational mergers are rare.  (Nice to know that we here are special!)

In the face of these sobering facts, churches around the country have found ways to re-define their mission and to maintain their financial viability.  I am hoping that over the course of the next three lunches, we will learn about creative and inspiring examples that will help us to think “outside the box” in terms of continuing ministry in these difficult times.  Our guests from the Foundation provided this helpful thought:  “The situation you and your church find yourself in is not your fault, but it is your problem.”   I would only add: “It is our problem but also our opportunity.”  Although our situation may not always feel hopeful, I believe we have the resources to fashion a new way of being a Christian church here and now.  God is challenging us to use our creativity and to gather our courage.

Please let me know if you would like to be included in the next lunch, which will take place on Tuesday, March 26 also at Sweet Hollow.

Pastor Lou

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Pastor’s Post January, 2019

Now that Christmas, 2018 is behind us, it’s time to close the books on our poet friend, W. H. Auden and his long Christmas poem, “For the Time Being.”  Here are some of his final words as he brings the story to an end:

Well, so that is that.  Now we must dismantle the tree,

Putting the decorations back into their cardboard boxes—

Some have got broken—and carrying them up to the attic.

The holly and the mistletoe must be taken down and burnt,

And the children got ready for school.  There are enough

Left-overs to do, warmed-up, for the rest of the week—

Not that we have much appetite, having drunk such a lot,

Stayed up so late, attempted—quite unsuccessfully—

To love all of our relatives, and in general

Grossly overestimated our powers. Once again

As in previous years we have seen the actual Vision and failed

To do more than entertain it as an agreeable

Possibility, once again we have sent Him away,

Begging though to remain His disobedient servant,

The promising child who cannot keep His word for long.

Sort of captures the mood of the days just after Christmas, doesn’t it?  Those feelings of joy, love and warmth wear off, and we are back in the rut of everyday existence before we know it.  As Auden says, “we have failed to do more than entertain it (the spirit of Christmas) as an agreeable possibility.”  Auden says we are like children who can’t keep a promise for very long.

Does Christmas simply offer a momentary respite from the ordinary?  Or, can we learn to live the whole year in the spirit of that special day?  You may read this after January 1, but there is still time for a resolution or two.  I would suggest more regular attendance at church—try to be present at least three out of four Sundays.  Don’t get upset if we are worshipping in “the other” church building.  All the buildings, all the meeting rooms are now “ours.”  Nothing is “theirs” any more.  The more time we spend together in worship and prayer, the easier will be our transformation into a united congregation.

Here are some special dates that I would like you to put in your appointment calendar:

Sunday, February 24.  We are planning to hold the final annual meeting of the two historic congregations and also the first congregational meeting of the new United Presbyterian Church. The session of the new congregation will be elected that day, along with its board of deacons.  This will take place immediately after the worship service.

Wednesday, March 6.  Ash Wednesday.  Please plan to attend the traditional evening service.  This is the beginning of Lent, and this will be an important season of prayer and re-commitment for all of us as we begin the adventure of being a revitalized, unified congregation.

Thursday evenings in Lent, March 7, 14, 21 and 28 and April 4 and 11.  These evenings will be dedicated to the study of our church’s mission in community—our relationship as a congregation of Christ’s followers to the social issues that affect us and those around us.  We will also spend some time at each meeting in group prayer.  Time and location to be announced

Sunday, April 21.  Easter.  We will have our third annual “sunrise” service on the lawn at Levittown and our 10 a.m. service at the Massapequa campus.

I hope you will be present for these events.  Please be a part of this new enterprise of the spirit as we begin life as a new church!  As poet Auden said in the closing lines of his Christmas poem:

“He is the Way.

Follow Him through the Land of Unlikeness;

You will see rare beasts, and have unique adventures.”

 

-Pastor Lou

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Eve Candlelight Worship Services

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We will host two Christmas Eve Candlelight Worship Services.

Please join our United Congregations on Christmas Eve, Monday, December 24, 2018.

Join us at 7:30p.m. for a Candlelight Worship Service hosted at the First Presbyterian Church of Levittown

Join us at 11:00 p.m. for a Candlelight Worship Service hosted at the Presbyterian Community Church of Massapequa

The Elaine Clifford Memorial Giving Tree

It’s that time of the year again. On Sunday, December 2nd. the Elaine Clifford Memorial Giving Tree will be decorate in the Massapequa sanctuary with your gifts for the needy.

The items that are especially needed are:  men’s thermal underwear (tops and bottoms, size large, no XL), gift cards from Target, Walmart, or Costco. (Gift cards are used to purchase work shoes.) We also need gloves, especially men’s hats, scarves, men’s sweatshirts (M&L,) and socks. For the children, we need new toys, board games, dolls, basket balls, and Soccer balls. Thank you for thinking of others during the Christmas Season. Our advocate for the homeless, Jillian will distribute your gifts to the needy.

giving tree

Special Congregational Meeting, Sunday, June 24th. following worship in Miles Hall.

A special congregational meeting of the First Presbyterian Church of Levittown is called for Sunday, June 24th, 2018 in Miles Hall located in the First Presbyterian Church of Levittown. The meeting will take place immediately following worship service.

The purpose of this meeting is to:

a) approve the consolidation of the two congregations to become the ” United Presbyterian Church”.

b) approve the new bylaws for the  “United Presbyterian Church”.

Called  by order of the Session:  Rev. Louis Knowles Moderator, Maria Studer, Clerk of Session, Joan Tischner Clerk of Session
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A special congregational meeting of the Presbyterian Community Church of Massapequa is called for Sunday, June 24th, 2018 in Miles Hall located in the First Presbyterian Church of Levittown. The meeting will take place immediately following the worship service.

The purpose of this meeting is to:

a) approve the consolidation of the two congregations to become the ” United Presbyterian Church”.

b) approve the new bylaws for the  “United Presbyterian Church”.

Called  by order of the Session:  Rev. Louis Knowles Moderator, Maria Studer, Clerk of Session, Joan Tischner Clerk of Session .

 

Pastor’s Post – June 2018

From-the-Pastor-2

Pastor’s Post

The lectionary reading for June 3 includes a passage from Paul’s second letter to the Christians in the city of Corinth. In the 4th chapter, verse 7, Paul writes that we carry the treasure of the Gospel in “clay jars,” or, in the more colorful language of older translations, in “earthen vessels.” Paul is referring to himself and his fellow preachers in these terms to express the frailty of human nature, and how little we deserve to be so closely associated with the glorious message of Christ’s love and mercy.

It has occurred to me that we have another type of “earthen vessel” to deal with, and that is the earthly organizational structure of the church. As spiritually restorative as our worship and fellowship may be, it must be carried on in real time in real property and in the form of a non-profit organization with all the red tape and legal rigmarole that is implied in that status. In coming months, we will encounter a lot of rigmarole as we move toward full union of the two congregations. I ask for your patience and your participation as we proceed. The next milestone for our congregation(s) will be a meeting following worship on Sunday, June 24. We will vote to approve by-laws for the new congregation, and each of the two congregations, meeting together but voting separately, will vote on motions to bring us together that our lawyers have drafted using language that will meet the requirements of the government agencies that will be involved in approving the bringing together of the congregations.
After the votes of June 24, we will take our proposal to become United Presbyterian Church to Presbytery, going through the Presbytery Trustees.
Please try to be present for the June 24 meeting. It will be held immediately following worship on Sunday, June 24 at Levittown. It is important not only to have a quorum of members of both churches present, but we should show to Presbytery and government agencies that our process has benefited from the active involvement of as many members as possible.

 

Pastor Lou

Pastor’s Post for April

Pastor’s Post: Our Connectional Church, Part 1

As I have often said, there are a great many advantages to being part of a “connectional” church such as the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America. Sadly, we often don’t think about this dimension of our church experience except when we read headlines about controversial decisions made by our General Assembly, which meets every other summer. If we can put that thought aside for a moment, I’d like to share some of the real positives we gain from our relationship to the PCUSA nationally and regionally. This is a big topic, and I will spread my comments over the next several newsletters.

During our recent stewardship drive, we shared information about the “per capita” donation (currently about $37 for each member) that we are obligated to send to fund the work of the church regionally and nationally. We learned that most of this money is utilized by the Presbytery of Long Island to support the life and work of congregations in our area. Presbytery is the body that maintains the standards for education, skills and conduct for our professional clergy. It also oversees a variety of educational and training resources for church members in things like how to be an elder, how to serve as a deacon, how to manage finances, and so forth. Presbytery has a variety of ways it can help local churches when they encounter challenges and difficulties. It also organizes support for many different forms of local mission and manages relations with other denominations and faith groups. The Presbytery board of trustees exercises stewardship of Presbytery’s funds and interacts with local congregations in matters of property and financial management.

Presbytery is composed of all active PCUSA clergy on Long Island and lay representatives of all congregations. The Presbytery meets five or six times a year to conduct business. The Massapequa session appoints a person as “commissioner” or representative for each meeting of presbytery. Clerk Joan Tischner has been a frequent representative. Levittown session elects a representative each year, and Maria Studer is the current commissioner with Marilyn Rodahan serving as alternate. Presbytery meetings are held in different churches, so sooner or later it meets near us. The next meeting of Presbytery will take place on Tuesday, April 17 at Bellmore Presbyterian Church, beginning at 12:30 p.m. and will last several hours. If you would like to visit Presbytery and witness it at work, please feel free to do so. If you let me know your plans, I will arrange to introduce you, so the commissioners are aware of your presence and interest. I should add that not all Presbytery meetings are held on week days. It meets, frequently on a Saturday, to allow for greater participation from lay Presbyterians.

Beyond our local area, we are connected with the Synod of the Northeast, which keeps offices in upstate New York and covers New England and the greater New York area. Then, of course, we are part of the General Assembly which includes representation from all parts of the United States. Next month, I will give you a report on the activities of Synod, and then, as we move toward the meeting of General Assembly in St. Louis in June, I will brief you on the activities of the national church and what important issues will be brought up at GA this year.

 

-Pastor Lou

The Annual Ecclesiastical / Corporate Joint Meeting of the First Presbyterian Church of Levittown and the Presbyterian Community Church of Massapequa, Sunday, March 4, 2018

“The Annual Ecclesiastical/Corporate Joint Meeting of the First Presbyterian Church of Levittown and Presbyterian Community Church of
Massapequa is called for Sunday, March 4, 2018 in the sanctuary of the First Presbyterian Church of Levittown immediately following worship to conduct the following business: Receive reports, receive the annual budgets and to consider any other business that may properly be brought before the Annual Meeting. By order of the Sessions, Maria Studer, Clerk of the First Presbyterian Church of Levittown and Joan Tischner, Clerk of the Presbyterian Community Church of Massapequa.”

A potluck lunch will take place following the meeting in Miles Hall.  Volunteers are needed for set up and donations of beverages and desserts are needed.  Each member is asked to bring a covered dish or salad. Please contact Cathy Ernst at 516 241 0832 if you are able to help or are able to donate. Thank you.
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January 2018 – Pastor’s Post

Pastor’s Post:

As I look back on the past two and a half years, I am pleased with what we have been able to accomplish together. I was speaking with one long-term member this past week, and she reminded me that we have in many ways already become one congregation. We are accustomed to worshipping together, we share in our social events, and our sessions and deacons’ boards and many committees are now meeting jointly. This has been possible because the experience of getting to know each other has been largely a positive one. Of course, we notice our differences, the small variations in worship tradition, the differences in building use and so forth, but these variations do not divide us. We share in the joy of our faith and in our commitment to maintain a witness to the Gospel of Christ in the Presbyterian tradition in this part of Long Island.

We expect that, with the guidance of our Merger Commission and the approval of Presbytery, we will complete a legal and financial merger of the congregations this year. I am hoping that this process will proceed smoothly and will not preoccupy us. However, we hope to have “all hands on deck” for the decisions that lie ahead about our worship arrangements. We have been alternating worship locations each week for over two years. This has always been regarded as a temporary arrangement because being reliably present in one place is important for newcomers and visitors. We can’t grow if people have trouble finding us!

I understand that the decision about where to worship is complicated and sensitive. For that reason, we want everyone to be a part of the decision-making process. Later this month, you will receive a survey that I hope you will respond to quickly and thoughtfully. Basically, you will be asked your opinion about where we should worship at 10 a.m. on Sundays, the reasons that lie behind your preference, and your thoughts about the future of the building that you do not choose. For example, should there be worship at other times of the week or month in the other building? Should we continue to use it for other purposes? Should we sell it? We also want to hear any ideas you have about long-range solutions, such as selling both buildings and finding or building a new place to center our church.

Your opinions will be incorporated into our decision-making process. The final choices about worship location and building uses will be made by the sessions meeting jointly or as a merged, new session for the new United Presbyterian Church. Any property sale will need the approval of Presbytery.

I am praying that we do not become so involved in these matters of property that we lose sight of our basic mission to declare the Good News to all and to provide worship services that inspire us and give us the opportunity to praise God and to invoke God’s blessing on us and our community. I know that change can be painful and disruptive, but let us keep in mind the example of Abraham and Sarah who were summoned by God to leave their settled life and to go out into the unknown, and Elijah who found shelter where he could in the wilderness and was fed by ravens, and our Lord himself who, during his ministry, had no place he could call his own.
Thanks be to God who in His mercy has given us the gift of His presence in our midst and the equally valuable gift of our fellowship with each other. May the Lord be a pillar of fire by night and of cloud by day going before us into the future.
-Pastor Lou