Newsletter Highlights

Outdoor Vesper Service
Sunday, September 20 at 6pm – Patio Area at Rear of Church

Join us for a 30-minute service of music, brief message, prayer, and fellowship! Face coverings required. Bring a chair if you are able. Plenty of parking in lot across Marlowe behind brick office building, in the LPC parking lot off of Belle Avenue or on the street.

A Message from the Pastor

by the Rev. Dr. James C. Butler

It’s been about five full months since I’ve seen or spoken to many of you. I miss “normal” so much I can hardly stand it at times. When I start to get grumpy, I try to count my blessings and remember that so many more among us have far greater challenges than just missing familiar routines or being able to enjoy “crowd” events. I think about all of you parents with school-age children and the frustrations and fears that must swirl around in your heads and hearts. I think about people who have lost jobs, small business owners struggling to survive, and of course, those who are caring for the sick and those who have lost loved ones in recent months whether due to COVID-19 or other issues. Relationships are stressed because of so much “togetherness.” After five months of this unpleasant new normal and all the hopes that things would be back to normal by now, many people are experiencing challenging emotions, whether depression, compassion fatigue or simple grumpiness. Please know that I care and that you can call upon me for help. I have good ears, and sometimes I have a helpful word or good advice. Email me or call the church office. I’m here for you. And kudos to our church staff who have been and will continue serving you as we creatively adjust to this new normal. I can’t wait to sing and pray and grow in faith “in person” when health conditions improve. In the meantime, we will stay together with very small, safe groups, worship and faith formation online videos, and of course, Zoom coffee hours and meetings. God bless and be well!

“Facing Racism: A Vision of the Intercultural Community”
Begins Tuesday, September 8 from 7-8pm

Please register by Thursday, September 3

Do you have questions about racism? Would you like to examine the issue from a Christian perspective? Would you like to have a place to discuss it with LPC friends? If those answers are yes, we hope you will consider joining a four-week study offered by the Faith Formation Ministry. Entitled “Facing Racism: A Vision of the Intercultural Community,” it is based on materials provided by the Presbyterian Church USA.

We realize we cannot gather as a large group so we are offering a hybrid course. Some of you (a limited number) might like to come to LPC to study together. We would guarantee social distancing, mask wearing and hand sanitizer. Others might like to join the group using Zoom meeting technology. Everyone would be able to hear the presentations. When small group discussion would be helpful, the Zoom group would talk together and those at LPC would form small, distanced groups. Everyone would receive the study resources via email.

We will meet on four Tuesday evenings beginning September 8 from 7–8 p.m. If you would like to join us in person or via Zoom, please email and include your name, phone number, email address and whether you prefer in person or Zoom. We’ll get back to those who indicate interest with details. Deadline to register is Thursday, September 3.

“Gather-ish Day”
Sunday, September 13 at 2pm

Each year we gather together and celebrate the beginning of our program year. Many of us look forward to seeing each other and having our annual service in the park. Like everything this year, Gathering Day will look a little bit different. Though we cannot meet in the church, we can still find ways to “gather.” On September 13 beginning at 2 p.m., we will host a Socially Distanced Church Social. The Faith Formation Ministry invites you to come draw Bible stories, verses, or positive messages outside of the church on the sidewalks. We ask that masks be worn, and we will mark spaces so that families can be properly distanced or staggered. You can use some of our chalk or bring your own. All are welcome no matter the age. Pre-packaged treats and drinks will be provided. If you have missed the smiles and waves from your church family, but are not interested in the activity, feel free to stop by as we gather together a few spaces apart.

September Adult Faith Formation Series
“Suitable for Adults: A Grown-up Look at Children’s Bible Stories”
Sundays, September 13, 20 & 27

Most of us are familiar with the classic Bible stories of Jonah and the Whale and Noah’s Ark. We may remember the cheery pairs of animals waddling up to the great ship from murals in the nursery or our days in Sunday school. However, how often do we read these stories as adults? LPC Faith Formation Director Aliyah Kennedy has prepared a three-part video series looking at some of our favorite Bible stories that might not be as child friendly as we remember. The series will be available on the church website by 9 a.m. on Sundays, September 13, 20 and 27. The videos will be approximately 25 minutes long.

When most people look back on the classic stories of the Bible (particularly with children’s stories), we tend to see them through a cheery filter of heroes and miracle workers — Jonah prayerfully content in the belly of a smiling whale or Isaac happily oblivious to the plans of his father as they descend the mountaintop. As we tell these stories to children, we manage to instill meaning while also perpetuating the idealized image of saints and Biblical perfection. As adults, we can find deeper meaning by removing the “PG” rating and getting back to the original director’s version.

LPC Has New Online Giving Platform

The Administration and Finance Ministry has been aware that many of our members would like to be able to give online through the church website. We established a PayPal account, but it was cumbersome and expensive — 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction. The committee was made aware that the Presbyterian Foundation has established a safe, secure online giving service and has a small fee compared to other online pay services — just 2% of contributions are retained as a fee for service. That means 98% of the contribution is sent to LPC’s General Fund checking account.

It appears that there can be tax advantages for seniors contributing from retirement accounts. LPC Parish Associate Cinda Gorman is pleased to speak with anyone about this. Her contact information is in the church directory.

You can make an online contribution by clicking on the tab labeled “Giving” in the top menu. You will be directed to the webpage where the Presbyterian Foundation electronic giving link is located.

Many thanks to Finance Chair Matt Greif and Treasurer Sara Gresh who did all the research and leg work!

Highlights from Sacred Notes Music Blog

LPC Director of Music Ruth Draper created an online music ministry at the beginning of quarantine on her website’s home page, Twice a week she posts videos and commentary, and there are now almost 50 different pieces with discussions on varied topics to browse. As you know from the music during LPC’s services, Ruth has a wide repertoire of styles on piano and organ, and there is something for everyone in her blog, from Classical favorites like Widor’s Toccata for organ or Debussy’s Arabesque No. 1 to jazzy hymn arrangements like Sowash’s Down by the Riverside for saxophones, drums, piano and bass or Utterback’s light-hearted Just a Closer Walk with Thee for organ.

You can browse past posts on Ruth’s blogs two ways: by composer or by instrument/style. Viewed on a computer, the blog’s sidebar on the right has a link under “View posts by composer/arranger” to an archive page with all posts sorted by composer. The sidebar also has a “View posts by category” heading, where each word is a link that takes you to a list of posts featuring a category such as spirituals, jazz/blues or hymn arrangements. (On a mobile device these links are at the bottom of the webpage.)

Here are some highlights from this summer’s posts, which range from the musically technical to the generally philosophical to the personal:

  • Bach, Psalm 130 for Organ – thoughts on Martin Luther’s concept of sin, and how Bach portrays it musically in this majestic organ piece
  • Draper, Nightsong: Turning Toward – a personal musical and written reflection on the idea of “turning toward” others in hard times, featuring an original piano composition by Ruth
  • Hayes, This Little Light of Mine – the history of this spiritual in the Civil Rights Movement, and musings on the impact of “dark/light” imagery in Christian ritual
  • Joplin, Maple Leaf Rag – how the player piano in the early 1900s influenced the interpretation of ragtime, with links to performances by Ruth and Joplin himself
  • Kaan, Help Us Accept Each Other – a choral hymn collaboration with singers from four area churches and thoughts on what it’s like for singers to participate in virtual choirs
  • MacDowell, Song from Sea Pieces – an exploration of the nostalgic Romantic “character piece,” showcasing a beautiful and wistful piano piece by Edward MacDowell
  • Thomas, Fantasy on Walk Together Children – thoughts on what it takes to be a successful Black composer in America, with video of signs and murals from Black Lives Matter events

Ruth intends to keep her blog going throughout the fall, regardless of whether church services are held in person, as a way to keep people connected with music performance and the kinds of pieces you would hear in a church service (ragtime excepted!).

A Little Peek into Faith Formation

While many of us are still distancing and the church has not yet resumed public worship, you might find yourself wondering what the church is still doing. Staff and members are hard at work each week preparing for worship, providing music and developing faith-formative opportunities.

Faith Formation has continued to work with our adult leaders to provide digital lectures for adults and has planned hybrid options for the future. Rather than taking the usual summer break, the youth continued to meet. Once a month, the youth group has met at the home of Faith Formation and Youth Director, Aliyah Kennedy, for a socially distanced bonfire. The theme of the meetings has focused on fire: how fire is an essential element and faith is essential in our stripped-down lives; how we have felt or can feel the fire of the Holy Spirit in our lives; how we are refined by fire and how God uses our hardships to help us grow. The youth group will continue to meet outdoors while the weather is nice and will incorporate Zoom meetings once the school year resumes. Also, we have been active in fostering faith in our younger children. For most of the summer, we provided recorded Bible stories or lessons on the Young Families Facebook group. We mailed children’s bulletins during the program year (and will resume mailings in September). We also dropped off three sets of blessing bags containing snacks, crafts and lessons for Easter, Pentecost and summer. It has been a blessing to be able to include our youth in the virtual worship service, and we are busy planning more ways to incorporate families and children in the upcoming program year. We hope you know that we are always thinking of you. We miss our church family and are still very busy trying to plan new ways to reach out and continue our Christian walk together. If you, your family, or child would like to learn more or participate in one of these offerings, or you have a need or idea, please contact us at

The 224th: A Very Unusual General Assembly

The bi-annual meeting of our denomination’s highest governing body did not convene in Baltimore on June 20 as planned. Because of the pandemic, the General Assembly “assembled” online via Zoom inside the homes and offices of commissioners (Ruling Elders and Ministers of Word and Sacrament), denominational leaders, mission workers and invited guests from around the world.

The consensus is that the assembly was extremely well planned and orchestrated; however, many important decisions facing the church have been deferred to the 225th General Assembly because the virtual nature of the meeting was a less than adequate format for robust debate and reflection. Nevertheless, a lot of necessary work was accomplished as commissioners met in smaller online committee meetings in addition to the extremely large “plenary” sessions when everyone gathered online and commissioners voted electronically. Here are some important actions taken during the 224th General Assembly:

  • Co-Moderators were elected: a Native American Synod executive and an African American pastor. Elder Elona Street-Stewart (Synod of Lakes and Prairies) and the Rev. Gregory Bentley (Fellowship Presbyterian Church, Huntsville, Alabama) were elected on the first ballot and will serve a two-year term until the 225th General Assembly convenes in Columbus, Ohio.
  • The Rev. J. Herbert Nelson was elected to serve a second four-year term as the Stated Clerk, the PCUSA’s chief ecclesiastical officer.
  • Much energy and attention was focused on antiracism. The assembly affirmed that black lives matter and pledged that the PCUSA will “confront and dismantle systemic racism” in the church and society. The resolution calls upon PCUSA congregations, mid-councils (Presbyteries and Synods) and entities to adopt antiracism policies and to examine Presbyterian involvement in colonization, enslavement, oppression and genocide of people of color.
  • Recognizing the financial stress brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the assembly approved a very small increase (3 cents!) in the GA portion of member per capita — from $8.95 to $8.98. The Office of the General Assembly in Louisville pledges serious cost-cutting measures avoiding large staff layoffs.

Why Is Per Capita Important?

According to the Office of the General Assembly, per capita is a fundamental way in which all of the more than 9,000 congregations and mid councils of the PC(USA) connect, participate and share in the work of the wider church. Per capita is how Presbyterians “mutually and equitably share the costs of coming together to discern the Spirit’s leading for the future.”

The expenses of operating our Presbyterian denomination will cost every congregation in our Presbytery $32.41 per member. In 2020, the per capita amount is distributed as follows:

  • Presbytery $20.21
  • Synod $3.25
  • General Assembly $8.95

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.