Tag Archives: St. James Presbyterian Church

Purple, not flowers, construction fence

IMG-6552I passed this fence on my way to St. James Presbyterian Church to a meeting with colleague and friend Derrick McQueen. It was on St. Nicholas between the 145th Subway Station and the church. Interesting that it was purple.

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Purple (artificial) flowers, St. James Presbyterian Church


2 November 2017
St. James Presbyterian Church
Harlem, New York

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Purple flowers, St. Nicholas Park


On my way to preach
at St. James Presbyterian Church,
this harbingers of Spring
rose to greet me
from the soil
of St. Nicholas Park.

4 March 2012
Harlem, New York

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A different route

As I went out last Sunday, to make my way unto St. James Presbyterian Church, I planned to use St. Nicholas Avenue. It is flat. I employed my usual walking plan – take what traffic and the stoplights give me.

After a couple of blocks, I realized that it would prove difficult to get to St. Nicholas Avenue. I had gone too far north; St. Nicholas Park lay between me and my preferred route. A choice lay before me. To minimize the uphill journey and see some new things, I chose to go through the park.

There I was surprised and pleased to see crocuses or croci or both. Going by a different route, may bring new opportunities, new delights. At least it did as I walked out last Sunday to make my way unto St. James.

See you along the Tail.

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Humble folk

St. James Presbyterian Church extended to me the privilege of preaching today. The congregation began their observance of Black History Month.

As I worked on the sermon, I thought of a prayer that I had remembered and included in the worship service for the Presbytery of New York City’s worship service celebrating the life, ministry, and witness of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Rev. Dr. Otis Turner, one of my mentors, wrote the prayer. It reads in part:

We thank you for apostles, martyrs, leaders, and saints
And for humble folk whose names were never in the news.
But are recorded in your book of life.

God has blessed me. I have known many humble folk who have tirelessly pursued justice for all God’s children, loved courageously, and witnessed boldly. I know many who do so today. I give thanks to God.

See you along the trail.

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Hamilton Grange

After preaching at St. James Presbyterian Church, a true blessing, I walked a short way up 141st Street to visit my first National Park of the year. Historians believe that the Hamilton Grange National Memorial is the only home owned by Founding Father Alexander Hamilton.

The home has an interesting tale. It stands on its third site – having been moved twice as the city grew around it.  Hamilton owned the land.

The site involves a brief tour. Only a few rooms on the first floor are open to the public. There is an informative display and two movies. One tells the amazing story of moving the Grange. The second move involved the use of hydraulics and lifting – yes lifting – the building over the church beside it. The second tells the amazing story of Alexander Hamilton. It hooked me. I need to learn more.

From the Grange, I walked home through St. Nicholas Park and the City College of New York on a beautiful, cool January day.

See you along the Trail.

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Where are the Ribbons of Hope?

Simple ribbons.

Many colors.

Bright colors.

With words of

remembrance and

faith and

love and


Ribbons of Hope were made in New York and around the world as part of the observance of the 10th anniversary of September 11, 2001. Ribbons were made at St. James Presbyterian Church on September 11, during a seminar with participants from the Presbytery of West Virginia, and at a chapel service at the Church Center for the United Nations.

Prepare New York reports that more than 20,000 people participated in Ribbons of Hope. The ribbons adorn 12 nine-foot panels. “These tapestries, where ribbons of different colors, textures, shapes and sizes can be found side-by-side, symbolize the strength and vibrancy of our diversity and serve as an important witness to peace and reconciliation. The plan is to continue to display them across the city throughout the full tenth anniversary year. They will travel each month from one prominent location to another. Ribbons will be added as they go, making this an expanding, interactive expression of community art.”

Moving, maintaining and organizing this project takes money; friends of Prepare New York can make a tax deductible gift of $25. Your gift will help keep this powerful symbol of hope and healing alive for a full year.  Your name will be added as a “friend” of Ribbons of Hope.

Did you add a ribbon to the Ribbons of Hope panels and want to know where your ribbon is now? Use Ribbons Map to track all the panels as they move from place to place. Find out where your ribbon has been and where it’s going next.

 See photos from the Ribbons of Hope weekend. Read Robert Chase’s recent blog: Reflections on Ribbons and 9/11.

Ribbons of Hope panels are scheduled to be at the chapel in the Church Center for the United Nations next week. Watch for pictures.

See you along the Trail.

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In the St. James Presbyterian Church office,
under the gaze of the Rev. Dr. Lenton Gunn,
who had served on the Advisory Committee of the
Presbyterian Hunger Program at the same time I did,
a parallel of timing occurred to me:
in early October 2000, I moved to Louisville
and so had been there not yet a year
when on a crisp, bright, blue, beautiful New York day,
the attacks of September 11, 2001 took place,
in early October 2010, I moved to Manhattan
and so had been here not yet a year
when on a crisp, bright, blue, beautiful New York day,
the city, the country, the world
remembered the attacks for the tenth time.
What to make of this? I know not.
I note the parallel, but my understanding remains

11 September 2011
St. James Presbyterian Church
Shire on the Hudson 

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September 11, 2011

On this day of sadness and pride, remembrance and looking forward, St. James Presbyterian Church used the worship resources for the 10th Anniversary of September 11, 2001 today during worship. We shared in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.

Members of the congregation had the opportunity to make Ribbons of Hope which were delivered to Battery Park (my pictures from there did not work).

As often happens, a number of international visitors joined the congregation.

It was a blessing and an honor to worship with and preach to the saints of St. James.

See you along the Trail.

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When you can be found – Ascension Sunday

I preached today at St. James Presbyterian Church in Harlem.

It was my second time.

In March, I remembered with joy and humility that St. James Presbyterian is where the Rev. Dr. Lenton Gunn served faithfully and well for many years. I had the privilege of working with Lenton on the Presbyterian Hunger Program’s Advisory Committee. It was an honor to be in the pulpit where he had stood.

Today I returned.

Again I preached – and I led the service welcoming a member into the congregation by reaffirmation of faith. It was a moment of joy. I had forgotten how great a blessing that aspect of ministry is.

Very early in the service, came the prayer of adoration (I did not write the prayer although I truly wish I had). The prayer included the sentence: We gaze at the sky looking for you, when you can be found in the laughing play of children; we wonder where you have gone, while you are all around us in our sisters and brothers.

I prayed those words with the congregation and realized immediately that they summed up what much of what I wanted to say about the Ascension.

Almost at the same moment, I remembered a song by John McCutcheon – Picture of Jesus – that reminds us we see Jesus in everyone we meet (a theme echoed by many others through the years including Leo Tolstoy in the short story Where Love Is, God Is.)

I scrapped the first two pages I had written and rewrote on the fly. I started with the lines from the prayer. Then I retold a version of Picture of Jesus.

I noted that the Ascension tells us what not to do: we are not to look for Jesus in some indefinite future; not to look for him in heaven; not to focus our attention away from this world and the places we live (I mentioned the corner of W. 141st and St. Nicholas in Harlem and I also mentioned Argentina, France, and Italy – the places where some of those visiting St. James this morning live).

I also noted what the Ascension is. It is an invitation to see Jesus we encounter every day in all the places we find ourselves. It is a call to discipleship – to follow Jesus – to live as Jesus lived – to love as Jesus loves – to be his witnesses to the end of the world. It is a promise that we will receive the Holy Spirit who will gift us and accompany us in our living. It is the proclamation of God’s amazing grace and unshakeable love for each of us – for me. And that amazing grace and unshakeable love allow us to accept the gift of the Holy Spirit and live into the adventure of discipleship with all its challenges and perils as well as its wonders and blessings. Thanks be to God!

For the record, it seems like there is something going on with St. James Presbyterian Church, hills, and me. In March, the gospel lesson was the Transfiguration. Today the lesson from Acts was the Ascension. Both of those events take place on hills (mountains).

Also, when walking up Amsterdam from La Salle (where the Shire on the Hudson is located) to W. 141st (where St. James is located) there is something of a hill to climb. This seems a tad odd, since La Salle is located in Morningside Heights. But there you have it.

Of course as one of the members of St. James pointed out, the way back home goes downhill. And as another member told me, the walk on St. Nicholas is pretty level. And as a third member said, “If you came back more often, you would get used to the walk!”

See you along the Trail!

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