Newsletter Highlights

Introducing Our New Minister of Music

Dr. Kaori Hongo

We are very pleased to share the good news that Dr. Kaori Hongo will become LPC’s Minister of Music and will begin her ministry on July 1. Kaori (pronounced “Car-ee”) has been with us since late April along with two other substitute organists following Dr. Rowan Draper’s departure.

For the last twelve years, Kaori has served on the music staff of the Church of the Covenant directing the bell choir and children’s choir and also overseeing the church’s ministry to children and youth during the pandemic. Her husband, Dr. Jonathan Moyer, is organist at the Covenant and Associate Professor of Organ at the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music. Jonathan and Kaori have two sons who enjoy sports, play guitar and cello, and actively participate at the Church of the Covenant. Kaori was the music director for the Shaker Heights Cooperative Preschool and also has nearly two dozen private piano students.

Kaori’s parents are Christian medical missionaries in Japan. Her father is a cardiologist and her mother is a registered nurse. Kaori holds a Bachelor of Music degree in sacred music from Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey and the Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees in Organ Performance from Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. She was also awarded the Performer’s Certificate from the prestigious Rueil-Malmaison Conservatoire in France.

Kaori very much enjoys working with children and youth and is also a gifted handbell player and director. She has served several Protestant churches during her career and is now very excited to begin a new ministry with us.

A special reception for Kaori will be held after worship on Sunday, July 3. Please plan to be present and offer Kaori a warm LPC welcome.

A Note from Dr. Kaori Hongo

Dear Congregation of Lakewood Presbyterian Church,

I am so excited to introduce myself officially as your Minister of Music. As a daughter of a medical missionary and a wife to another fellow organist, music and church have always been a part of my life. Through music I have met so many people and have created many wonderful memories. Through my ministries at previous churches, I have learned how important the role of music can be in the life of a church family. In the next weeks and months, I look forward to meeting each one of you. Please do not hesitate to introduce yourself to me after a service. As the Bible says in 1 Corinthians 14:15, “So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding.” I hope and pray we can grow together in God’s guidance and explore the possibilities God puts in front of us with love and understanding. May God be with you and give you peace. —Kaori Hongo

A Message from the Pastor

by the Rev. Dr. James C. Butler

I hope everyone is enjoying these lovely summer days. Mine start with early morning coffee on my back porch with birds and squirrels and chipmunks.

The big news at LPC is that God has blessed us with a fantastic new Organist and Minister of Music. I just cannot tell all of you how fortunate we are to have Kaori Hongo join our program staff. Competent church organists are in very short supply in Northeast Ohio. I am so honored that Kaori (pronounced “Car-ee”) chose LPC!

Sincere thank-yous go to several church music folks: Kathy Sands who helped with schedules and administration, Tim Tavcar who directed the choir from April to early June, and our substitute organists (Don Jackson, Debra Coleman, Kaori Hongo, Kathy Sands and Cynthia Holzheimer) who worked so hard to keep our music ministry moving forward. And then there are all of our choir members, bell ringers, and soloists who stayed in the saddle for the glory of God. A sincere thanks from all of us who so appreciate the inspirational sacred music all of you made every Sunday.

Kaori will be officially welcomed on Sunday, July 3. I hope you will be present and extend to her a warm LPC welcome. God bless, and enjoy these not-so-always-lazy days of summer.

Results from the Matthew 25 Survey

The Matthew 25 Task Force has been very busy studying and discerning the future of LPC’s ministry of mission and outreach for several months. Several weeks ago the task force put together a churchwide survey intended to identify the passions and skills present within our congregation that could help our staff and leaders focus and strengthen current and future initiatives.

Several hundred Presbyterian congregations have adopted the “Matthew 25” mission model based on Jesus’ parable recorded in Matthew’s Gospel about a fictitious king who rewarded his royal subjects who “fed him, clothed him, and visited him in prison…” Jesus concluded, “whenever you have done this to the least of my brothers and sisters, you have done it unto me…” Matthew 25 congregations are encouraged to discover God’s call to serve neighbors in need within their unique contexts, focusing on addressing poverty, racism (and bigotry and exclusion in general), and renewing congregational vitality. The challenge for us, like most congregations, is to narrow the focus and choose from among a host of intriguing possibilities, recognizing the passions and resources that are present. Most churches must engage in “boutique” mission and ministry rather than the old “department store” model that was possible in times past due to larger congregations and people who had fewer commitments and activities. For better or worse, American culture has changed and so has the culture of most American churches, including LPC.

Regarding poverty, the survey revealed significant passion and energy around caring for the homeless. LPC is already actively engaged in providing meals to homeless shelters, supporting local ministries that provide long-term housing and care for at-risk women and children, gun violence concerns, and financial support to local and regional food banks and community service centers.

Within the broad category of racism and other forms of bigotry and exclusion, there appears to be considerable passion and energy for some sort of engagement with refugees and immigrants, safe space for LGBTQ youth, and enhancing our ministry of hospitality to 12-step groups and various support groups focused on emotional wellness (e.g. long-term dementia caregivers, divorce recovery, grandparents raising grandchildren, suicide and other forms of bereavement). Suggestions to enhance congregational vitality include an up-to-date photo directory, increasing small group fellowship/growth groups, re-engagement with community events following COVID-19 hiatus, LPC information pamphlets, and directories for local and national support organizations.

As the task force concludes its work of discernment and education, it is now in discussion with the Session’s Mission, Outreach and Justice Ministry who will oversee the current and new initiatives, all undergirded by Jesus’ command to care for neighbors in need.

Engaging Matthew 25 through Film

Summer Sunday Evening Series on Poverty, Racism & Congregational Vitality
for Adults and Mature Teens

7pm Sundays in Wright Chapel – July 10 through August 14

Hand in Hand Program for July/August

Hand in Hand will gather on Friday, July 8 to hear Will Limkemann talk on “Exploring the Ancient Maya.” Having grown up in Panama, Will has been fascinated with the Maya culture and will share his research. The group will meet in Lawther Hall from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Meetings are open to all.

On Friday, August 12, Hand in Hand will welcome Carrie Sowden, the expert on Lake Erie shipwrecks. She will discuss the Bradstreet Landing project in Rocky River. This meeting will take place in Lawther Hall from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. All are welcome.

Metanoia Project Donation Requests

Help keep Metanoia’s summer program going strong! Below is a list of needed items for the center or consider a monetary contribution. A collection box will be located in the Atrium lobby. Contact Cindy Dugan with questions.

  • Individually packaged juices
  • Coffee creamer
  • ToGo coffee cups and lids
  • ToGo boxes
  • Disposable gloves
  • Rain ponchos
  • New or gently used men’s and women’s T-shirts size M-2X
  • New or gently used men’s and women’s tennis shoes

225th Presbyterian General Assembly: “From Lament to Hope”

The highest governing council in the Presbyterian form of church government is a General Assembly. A GA consists of equal numbers of minister and elder “commissioners” sent from every Presbytery to guide the entire denomination for a two-year period and consider amendments to the church’s constitution.

The 225th GA was convened at the national offices in Louisville, Kentucky on June 18 and concludes July 9. There will be 471 commissioners with voting responsibilities. Every commissioner will spend considerable time early in the assembly assigned to one of several “standing committees,” which oversee the many areas of mission and ministry within the denomination. The “plenary” sessions, when all the commissioners gather for worship and to conduct business, will occur online.

One of the first orders of business is the election of the new GA Moderators who will conduct the meetings and continue to serve as the denomination’s chief representatives for the two years that the assembly will govern the church. As of the printing of this newsletter, the commissioners elected the Rev. Shavon Starling-Louis from the Presbytery of Charlotte and the Rev. Ruth Santana-Grace from the Presbytery of Philadelphia to become the Co-Moderators of the 225th General Assembly.

Much of the commissioners’ attention will be focused on global and national public policy concerns such as climate change, racism, the ongoing Israel/Palestine disputes, gun violence, and denominational issues related to financial stability and an overture to require paid family medical leave for ministers to be included in minimum terms of call for all presbyteries.

Presbyterians can watch the committee and plenary sessions via live stream and track assembly business through the GA’s website:

What Is Per Capita?

Did you know there is a price on your Presbyterian “head?” It’s true! The expenses of operating our Presbyterian denomination (Presbytery, Synod and the General Assembly) in 2022 will cost every congregation in our Presbytery $34.91 per “head” (member). Out of the $34.91, $22.68 goes to the Presbytery, $8.98 to General Assembly and $3.25 to the Synod. Per capita is a fundamental way in which all of the more than 9,000 congregations and mid councils of the PCUSA are connected and allows its members to participate in the work of the wider church. It is the responsible way of sharing costs that equitably belong to the whole Presbyterian community. Please consider paying your per capita apportionment on top of your pledge amount. Simply note “per capita” on the memo line of your check or pew envelope. Thank you for considering this request.