Tag Archives: Presbytery of New York City

Purple flowers, Church of the Master 1

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30 January 2018
Church of the Master
after meeting of Presbytery of New York City
Manhattan, New York

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Farewell to the Matrix

MatrixTransition is the nature of life. For individuals, families, communities, nations, the world, change happens.

Our family is no different. We have passed through many changes through the years.

This year has brought an acceleration of change. Eric graduated from seminary as did his fiancé, Essie. They remained engaged for about five days after their graduation and then, in a wonderful celebration, they became Eric and Essie Koenig-Reinke. And then they moved to Michigan for jobs with First Presbyterian Church of Ann Arbor.

Tricia received a new job in Louisville with the Office of the General Assembly. I received a new job in New York with the Presbytery of New York City.

Sean and grandpuppy Henrik have been the eye of calm in the midst of all the changes.

This weekend, we have gathered in Cleveland Heights for Eric’s ordination as a Minister of the Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). It will take place at Noble Road Presbyterian Church where Eric grew up and where he remains a member, until his ordination.

We all stayed in the house on Navahoe Road that Tricia and I rented in 1985 when we came to Noble Road. Tricia has stayed in the house ever since, which we finally came to own a couple years ago. This may be the last time we all stay together here, although thanks to a dear family friend, Renee Boykin, we will continue to own the house. Renee will rent.

Another marker of this time of transition came when Eric pulled into the driveway on Friday night driving a Toyota Matrix. It had been my car, purchased in 2004, and it is my favorite of all the cars I have owned or co-owned.

Now it has Michigan plates and belongs to Eric. Of course he has been driving it since I first moved to New York in 2010. But the title remained in my name and Tricia and I paid the insurance bill. And it still felt like mine.

No longer. Eric transferred the title a while back, put on the Michigan plates and started paying for the insurance. The Matrix is his.

An era ends. A new one begins.

Farewell, Matrix.

See you along the Trail.

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Back for a weekend tour 2

KOENIGOn Saturday, April 1, 2017, I had the privilege to lead a retreat for the candidates and inquirers for ministry of the Presbytery of New York City. Committee members also attended the retreat which was held at Broadway Presbyterian Church.

Together we explored why followers of Jesus work for justice by engaging in issues of public policy and corporate policy. We remembered that the separation of church and state does not mean the separation of our faith from the processes by which decisions that influence all of us are made.

Thanks to JC for the photo.

See you along the Trail.

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Back for a weekend tour 1

IMG_4830I returned to New York for a long weekend. It involved staying with my son Sean and my grand puppy Henrik, leading a workshop for the Committee on Preparation for Ministry of the Presbytery of New York City, and preaching at First Chinese Presbyterian Church.

Henrik did not seem to understand that I was at his apartment to work rather than to play with him.

Maybe next time.

See you along the Trail.

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I remember Ted

I finally made time tonight to go through the photos from the farewell party as I left the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations. I planned to send photos to some of the individuals who attended.

I still plan to do that.

But a series of photos brought me up short.They showed the last time I talked with my friend Ted Hickman.

Since I cannot send the photo to Ted, I share it here.

And again I give thanks for his life and love and witness and friendship.

The photo reminds me that we never know when the last time we will see each other might be.

Because of that I give thanks for family and friends who bless my life as I remember Ted.

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See you along the Trail.

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Until we meet again, Ted Hickman

14316837_10209909925482586_6630254089391490747_nOnly 17 short days ago they gathered to bid me farewell. My colleagues and friends from the community of nongovernmental organizations at the United Nations; my friends and colleagues from the Presbytery of New York City.

Ted was there. And after the words were spoken and the time came for people to leave, Ted and I looked at each other across the room.

We smiled. We moved toward one another. And as we had done before, threw open our arms and walked into an embrace, two bears seeking to engulf each other.

He whispered into my ear. Words of thanks. Assurances of prayers. Best wishes for what lay ahead.

I whispered back. Words of thanks. Assurances of prayers. Best wishes for what lay ahead.

As we disengaged, I said my final words. I refused to say goodbye as I left New York. And so I said to Ted, “Until we meet again.”

Only two short hours ago I received the email from the office of the Presbytery of New York City.

“In Memoriam” read the subject line. I had received enough emails with that subject to know what it meant. Someone had died.

I was prepared to learn of a death. I was not prepared to see Ted’s gracious, smiling face. Nor did I expect to read these words:

It is with deep sadness and grief for his family and this presbytery that I tell you that Theodore (Ted) Hickman, the Moderator of our Presbytery of New York City, died last night in his sleep.

Ted was 51.

My initial shock has given way to deep sadness and grief.

I grieve for his family … for Duryea Presbyterian Church where he served as the Commissioned Ruling Elder (pastor) … for his colleagues at NYU-Langone Medical Center … for the Presbytery of New York City … for all who knew and loved this good man.

I grieve for a song and life ended too soon. Too soon.

I grieve for what might have been.

I grieve for myself.

I grieve, knowing that, in life and in death, Ted, and all of us belong to God.

I grieve, knowing that love never ends, even death can never sever the cords of love that bind us together.

I grieve, believing in the resurrection.

I grieve and proclaim “Alleluia.”

I grieve and remember those final words I said:

Until we meet again,
my friend, my brother.
Until we meet again.

Note: the photo of Ted Hickman is the one that appeared in the message from the Presbytery of New York that announced his death. 

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The Until We Meet Again Tour – 22 August 2016, part 2

The evening gig for the Until We Meet Again Tour took place at the First Presbyterian Church in the City of New York where the Presbytery of New York City gathered to say farewell to Andy James. Andy will leave for a call as presbytery staff in New Hope Presbytery serving as their Associate for Small Church Ministry and Technology. He had served as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Whitestone and the Stated Clerk of New York City Presbytery.

Andy invited me to speak at Whitesone as one of the first stops on the Welcome to New York City tour. He also involved the staff and interns of the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations in Whitestone’s witness and work to end violence against women and girls. On the weekend when that initiative began, Ryan Smith spoke at the first event, and Jamie Tan and I attended a worship and witness in a nearby park.

Andy is a friend. He will be missed in the Presbytery of New York City. But our paths will cross in the days to come.

Thank you for your ministry, Andy. Godspeed on your new tour and in your new service.

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Neighbor and Neighborhood: A dialogue of the Sikh Coalition and the PC(USA)

This one is particularly for folks in the New York City area. But there is contact information if others want to learn more.

World Interfaith Harmony Week

World Interfaith Harmony Week is observed during the first week of February.

The Sikh Coalition, Presbyterian Men in the Presbytery of New York City, the Church of the Covenant, Rutgers Presbyterian Church, West-Park Presbyterian Church, the Committee on Witness to Society and the World in the Presbytery of New York City, and the Presbyterian Mission Agency’s Office of Interfaith Relations and Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations have come together in a unique partnership to offer three dialogue events over the weekend of February 1 and 2.

Simran Jeet Singh, Senior Religion Fellow of the Sikh Coalition, and Christine Hong, Associate for Theology: Interfaith Relations of the Theology, Worship and Education Ministry of the Presbyterian Mission Agency will lead the dialogues. Details on the three events are:

Saturday, February 1, 2014
10:00 – 11:30 AM

Fellowship Hall
Church of the Covenant
310 E. 42nd St., New York, NY
(between First and Second Avenues)
For more information, contact Greg Reid of Presbyterian Men.

Saturday, February 1, 2014
1:00 – 3:00 PM

Fellowship Hall
Rutgers Presbyterian Church
236 W. 73rd St., New York, NY
(take the 1, 2, or 3 train to 72nd St.)
For more information, contact Alice Hudson at Rutgers Presbyterian Church.

Sunday, February 2, 2014
Worship 11:00 AM
Dialogue 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM

Sanctuary
West-Park Presbyterian Church
165 W. 86th St., New York, NY
(corner of Amsterdam Avenue at 86th Street)
For more information, contact Bob Brashear at West-Park Presbyterian Church.

The dialogue will explore questions such as: What do Presbyterian Christians and Sikhs share in common? What makes our traditions unique? Does interfaith dialogue strengthen or weaken faith? How do we love neighbors of different religions in difficult times? Join us for a fishbowl style interfaith dialogue between the Sikh Coalition and the Office of Interfaith Relations of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). In this interactive learning experience you will learn about Sikhism, Presbyterians and interfaith relations, see interfaith dialogue in action, and take steps towards building relationships of neighborliness and solidarity with the Sikh American community. February 1 marks the beginning of World Interfaith Harmony Week, the first week in February each year, as designated by the United Nations General Assembly.

Would you like to host a similar event for your church or group? Contact Christine Hong at the Office of Interfaith Relations.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Current Events, New York, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations

Remembering Annie Rawlings

The word first came in a simple text from a friend. The precise words have already faded from memory, but their essence remains: “Annie Rawlings died.”

I could not believe it. I tried to deny it. I searched Facebook and other social media looking for something, anything, I don’t know what, to demonstrate that the news was false.

But it was not. Through electronic media and phone calls the confirmation arrived.

Annie Rawlings –
woman of deep faith,
daughter,
sister,
sister-in-law,
aunt,
niece,
cousin,

Annie Rawlings –
maker of peace,
welcomer of new neighbors,
community member,
strategic thinker,
seeker of justice,
builder of coalitions,
pursuer of truth,
builder of bridges,

Annie Rawlings –
ally of those living in poverty,
feeder of the hungry,
challenger of the systems,
clother of the naked,
houser of the homeless,
community organizer,
interfaith advocate,
child of Cleveland,
New Yorker,
citizen of the world,
glocal disciple,

Annie Rawlings –
trusted friend,
valued colleague,

Annie Rawlings –
lover of life,
liver of life,

Annie Rawlings was dead.

Annie died, unexpectedly, on November 2 after snorkeling in Cancun, Mexico where she had gone on vacation.

Annie threw herself into life with a zest and a passion. She lived boldly, bravely, fully. Annie made the most of her life.

Now Annie is dead. The world seems a bit more empty, a tad colder. Annie is dead and with so many others, I grieve.

I grieve for the pain and heartache that her parents and family suffer – pain and heartache that I can only imagine. I grieve for the empty seat at the table, the empty chair in the office, the empty place in the circle. I grieve for a life that ended too soon. I grieve for what might have been.

Yet as I grieve, I give thanks.

I give thanks for Annie’s faith and love. I give thanks for Annie’s living and witness. I give thanks for the lives that God touched through Annie. I give thanks that her memory shines. I give thanks that, while no one will ever, ever replace Annie, others will step up, have already stepped up, to carry on the pursuit of justice and peace to which she gave her life.

I give thanks because even in the face of the sudden death of one so young and vital as Annie, there is love and there is grace and there is God. All will be well for Annie. All will be well for her parents, Chuck and Joan. All will be well for her family and her friends. It may not seem that way now. It may not seem that way any time soon, but all will be well. There will be tears and heartache and great struggle, but all will be well. Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.

If you have ever read my blog, you know my closing line is: See you along the Trail. Tonight, I am going to give the final word to Annie’s favorite singer. Bruce Springsteen expresses a similar sentiment when he writes;

Further on up the road
Further on up the road
Where the way is dark and the night is cold
One sunny mornin’ we’ll rise I know
And I’ll meet you further on up the road.

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To a community of accountability – thank you!

My friend Laura Mariko Cheifetz has recently written twice about communities of accountability. As she notes:

I could operate all by myself as an individual, but that would be a lie. I am who I am because of the communities that form(ed) me and support(ed) me.

Laura notes that in some instances, she reports to communities of accountability. In other cases, while that word might be too strong, she still exist in, and nurtures, relationship with that community.

After reflecting on some of the communities to which she is accountable, Laura poses the question:

What are your communities of accountability? Your church? Your neighborhood? How do you stay accountable to them?

I would name a number of such communities in my life. The list that follows is not necessarily in order of importance. It is the communities in the order that they occur to me – bearing in mind that I am on a new allergy medication at the moment. I am accountable to:

  • family
  • the Presbytery of New York City
  • the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
  • the staff of the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations
  • the Compassion, Peace, and Justice Ministry
  • the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board
  • colleagues within the UN community and across the church who work for justice
  • the community where I live
  • a circle of friends built through the years – a circle that expands and contracts as we move through life
  • people of color (and white people) with whom I seek to challenge racism
  • women (and men) with whom I seek to challenge sexism
  • LGBT sisters and brothers (and straight brothers and sisters) with whom I seek to challenge heterosexism
  • young people (and older people) with whom I seek to challenge ageism

How do I stay accountable? In different ways with different groups at different times. Sometimes accountability comes in filling in forms and making reports. Sometimes accountability comes through being together and engaging in conversation. Sometimes accountability comes from recalling lessons taught and values shared. Sometimes accountability comes in remembering – allowing people’s faces and voices to fill my mind when we are far apart.

Two areas for further work come to me as I reflect on communities of accountability:

  1. Where do my communities intersect? Who is part of more than one community? What does that mean? Is it something to nurture intentionally? How would I do that?
  2. Where do I need to build new communities of accountability? The area of economic justice and injustice is one area that comes to mind immediately. Where else? What will that take on my part?

I have much to ponder. And I am grateful to Laura for opening this area of thought for me.

But before I close, I want to give a shout-out to a community of accountability that means a great deal to me at the moment. About two months ago, I decided to make another effort at self-care. I have made some remarkable progress although a long, long, long way remains to go. The effort combines exercise (walking at the moment) and reducing calories. I regularly bore Facebook with the information about my exercise for each day. That simple act somehow helps hold me accountable. Friends comment from time to time – different friends each time. Their feedback matters; but it is the posting that makes the difference.

I have also created a community of accountability – pulling together a number of friends and family who have expressed concern for my health – and who have voiced support for my efforts. This group receives weekly and monthly updates on my progress in terms of eating and exercise and weight loss and blood sugar control.

Some individuals have asked to be part of the group. Others I have drafted. I blind copy the group with the emails so they do not necessarily know who else is a member.

Each report receives a few responses – no one responds all the time – everyone responds once in a while. I deeply appreciate the responses. But even more deeply, I appreciate that the group members are willing to receive my updates.

To the members of this accountability group – to my family and friends – I say thank you. With your support, I have made a great start. The journey continues.

See you along the Trail.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Antiracism, Exercise, Family, Food, Friends, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations