What We Can Do About Child Poverty
In July, Lakewood Presbyterian Church is joining other Presbyterians across Northeast Ohio supporting Bread for the World’s 2021 “Offering of Letters.” Bread for the World is a highly respected faith-based anti-poverty advocacy organization. It spearheads an annual nation-wide letter writing campaign to members of the United States Senate and House of Representatives urging them to make addressing domestic poverty issues a higher priority. Bread for the World has proven that earnest, personal letters and emails to members of Congress make a big difference.
As part of the Presbytery of the Western Reserve’s new “Matthew 25” initiative, LPC, along with dozens of other congregations, will focus on one of Bread for the World’s tactical priorities — making the federal Child Tax Credit (CTC) permanent. Here is the exciting news: Many economists are convinced that the CTC, along with the Earned Income Tax Credit, are the most effective tools for lifting children and their families out of poverty. In fact, it has been estimated that congressional action on the tax credit could cut the child poverty rate in half.
This year’s Offering of Letters is slated for July 1–11, and it will again be done online rather than in person in our various churches, which means it will be exceedingly easy! You can also write a “hard copy” letter if you prefer and mail it to your senators and representative via USPS. Just go to our Presbytery website: www.preswesres.org/ctcletter. You will find a well-written example letter laying out the statistics about child poverty as well as the benefits of the CTC. You can take a few minutes to personalize the online letter or just send as is. Be sure to enter your contact information and then press send. It’s that easy! During our Sunday worship service on July 11, we will pray for God’s blessings on our virtual and hard copy letters and for the faithful ministry of Bread for the World.
If you want to make a difference in the lives of needy children and their families, then take five minutes to go online or write a letter and mail it. Let’s raise our voices against childhood poverty with Presbyterians across Northeast Ohio and Christians across the country July 1–11. We really can make a difference. Remember Jesus’ parable in Matthew 25: “When you did it for the least of these my brothers and sisters, you did it for me…”
A Message from the Pastor
by the Rev. Dr. James C. Butler
Things at church are starting to feel a little more normal. We’ve had good attendance at Sunday services, which have been joyful and deeply moving at times. What a pleasure to sing with other people. I agree with the Apostle Paul (and J.S. Bach) that the human capacity to sing is there to praise God and to express the emotions for which many of us cannot find adequate words. Our first Holy Communion on June 6 was so powerful it was hard not to cry.
Many pastors and church leaders are wondering what September will look like as nearly every church will crank up its fall programming. The pandemic took a terrible toll on human life and suffering, the economy and businesses, family life, and our educational and arts institutions. The fallout is nowhere near over. But COVID-19 had, and will continue to have, profound negative effects on religious institutions, and it appears to have finally pushed many less-resourced congregations over the edge and punched a lot of the stuffing out of others.
I bring this up to remind all of you that reigniting the vitality of our beloved congregation cannot be done by a few highly active leaders and church staff, however talented and hard-working we may or may not be. It will take all of us to recommit to consistent participation in Sunday worship, faith formation, music, mission and fellowship as the pandemic recedes and a more normal array of family, school, church and civic life returns. We need you!
The good news is that LPC’s tradition of faithful and committed generosity seems to have held steady (see article below). Unfortunately this is not the case for most churches regardless of denomination or tradition. I thank all of our faithful pledgers who never stopped their financial support of LPC’s mission and ministry and to those who did not make a pledge but faithfully sent checks and made online donations throughout the 14 months of closure. On behalf of all of our staff members who continued to receive paychecks because of your generosity, I thank you!
May the remainder of this summer be a delight to you and your loved ones.
Mid-Year Financial Update
There is good news to share about our financial status as of June. In terms of income, we are slightly ahead of budget projections. We are truly fortunate in that most of our active members make estimated giving pledges in November for the new year and are remarkably faithful. Several “pre-pay” their pledges, which are then pro-rated each month over the course of the year so that our financial reporting documents reflect a more accurate picture at any one time.
At the beginning of the pandemic in March of 2020, the Session agreed that both our salaried program staff and hourly support staff would continue to be employed and fully remunerated.
On the expense side of the ledger, we are pleased to report that we are also ahead of budget! Staff and committee leaders have worked together to reduce spending. We have had some unusual expenses related to our complicated air-conditioning system that includes five different units. One old unit is being replaced this summer. We have also had large expenses due to leaks in the 20-year-old AC unit that cools the Sanctuary. It is very, very large and uses refrigerant gas that is no longer manufactured. It is very expensive to replace when leaks occur. The Property Ministry will be working with an HVAC engineer as we move toward replacement very likely in 2022. We also remained committed to our financial policy of sharing 10% of congregational giving income to support denominational mission and other non-profit religious and civic organizations that meet our mission goals.
Thank you good, faithful and generous stewards!
“The Gift of Years” Resumes
Remember that “winter break” we took for snowbirds and traveling back in 2020? Our three-month pause from conversations about Sr. Joan Chittister’s The Gift of Years (Growing Older Gracefully) turned into a pandemic lockout.
But NEVER FEAR! We are ready to begin again this summer. We will switch to Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m. beginning July 28 (note new start date). A midweek time allows for long weekends now that people can hit the road.
The readings from Sr. Joan’s book are designed around a variety of topics. Participants can read the suggested five to eight page sections on a daily basis. Each week we’ll watch a brief (new and improved!) video of Joan’s reflections and discuss this thought-provoking book among friends. (A transcript of each video is available if you must miss a session.) Folks from other congregations are welcome to join us.
If you do not already have a copy of the book from the fall of 2019, please inform the LPC office before July 1 to be included in a group order. The books will be available in the church office on July 4 and 11. If you purchase your own copy (new/used or Kindle format), please inform the office to add your name to the class roster for handouts.
Please read the sections focused on Joy (page 27), Newness (page 45), Relationships (page 79), Productivity (page 149) and Appreciation (page 207) before we gather on the 28th. Journal handouts will be available in the church office by June 27. If you have questions, contact Cinda Gorman.
Small Group Book Study Opportunity
Beginning Tuesday, July 20 through August 24 (six weeks), seven people are invited to join Parish Associate Steve Gorman to discuss Anxious to Talk About It by Rev. Dr. Carolyn B. Helsel, Presbyterian pastor and professor of preaching at Austin Theological Seminary. The book focuses on the challenges white people face in talking faithfully about racism in our society.
We will gather Tuesday afternoons at 3 p.m. for an hour-plus time of reflection on our readings of this book. Participation is open to the first seven people who call the church office at 216-226-0514 to sign up (location of book study will be provided when you call). Cost of the book is $14.00 (checks payable to LPC).
Summer Youth Meet-ups and Mission Updates
This summer the LPC Youth Group will meet for a summer send off. We officially closed our program year with a lock-in on June 25. The youth group will stay in touch over the summer through the LPC youth Instagram chat group. In lieu of our usual summer trip, we will have monthly bonfires at the home of Aliyah Kennedy. The bonfires are open to all youth entering 6th grade and exiting 12th grade. The first bonfire is on July 16. The August date is still to be decided. Please see the youth emails for more details and to RSVP. The bonfires will be themed around this year’s youth mission in Malawi. We are very grateful to our congregation for helping us send a total of $2,251 to support the impoverished prisoners of Malawi. In June, Rev. Stanley Chimesya, the prison chaplain that our youth group is supporting, was recognized for his work by the United Nations. The regional director of the UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime) met with him, prison staff, and other chaplains from various denominations to discuss strategies aimed at improving the conditions within the prisons of Malawi. We are proud that the youth could be just a small part of this ministry through their fundraising efforts this past spring.
Upcoming Hand in Hand Meetings
Friday, July 9 from 11 a.m.–12:30 p.m. in the Reed Room — LPC Pastor Jim Butler will speak on the life and ministry of Leslie Weatherhead, a British Methodist minister who served London’s huge City Temple during WWII and later at New York’s Broadway Tabernacle. He was one of the world’s greatest preachers and an authority in the field of pastoral psychology. Weatherhead was best known for his interest in faith-centered healing and the connection between mind and body. He also became a researcher of supernatural phenomena.
Friday, August 13 from 11 a.m.–12:30 p.m. in the Reed Room — Dr. Chris Faiver will speak about “Spiritual Self Assessment.” Chris is an honored professor and friend of Dr. Sheryl Buckley, and we are most pleased to have him join us.
The Importance of Per Capita
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. This amount remains unchanged from 2020. In 2021, the per capita amount is distributed as follows:
- $8.98 goes to support the national work overseen by the General Assembly;
- $3.25 goes to support the work of the Synod of the Covenant, our regional synod; and
- $20.18 supports the administration and mission work in our own Presbytery of the Western Reserve (Northeast Ohio).
Please consider paying your per capita apportionment on top of your pledge amount. Simply note “per capita” on the memo line of your check and mail or drop off at the church office. Thank you for considering this request.