Pastor's Summer Blog

Another program year draws to a close here at CAPC and our hearts and minds turn towards trains, planes and automobiles to carry us off to far-flung destinations (whether to some exotic place or perhaps just the international aisle of the local supermarket). It seems like summer holds for us a chance to breath (at least we hope to take deep breaths, relax a bit and take the chance to ponder).  Perhaps it is time for us to stop and reflect, to question and to wonder.

Sometimes people feel like they shouldn't question. But I think questions are good, they are what puts our feet on the path to discovery and the opportunity to expand our thinking or deepen our understanding. This year  I asked our congregation to submit their questions, questions they would like to ask God.  And they did!

Each week this summer we will explore one of those questions. Perhaps they will lead to other questions or lead us to an answer in which we will discover something deep and rich. We hope you will join us. No pressure. It's summer. There is a list of the questions hear on our site so you could even pick and choose the ones you might hold as questions as well. We'd love to have you. Sunday worship happens at 9 am in our Chapel and at 10:30 am in our Sanctuary.

We'll leave the light on for you--Christ's Light, which remains our beacon of hope in all things.
Pastor Lynn


 

Pastor's Blog

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ here at Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church
 
Grace and Peace to you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 
2 Corinthians 1:2
 
 
As I write this I have just returned from a few days up in the Adirondack Mountains, Lake Placid to be specific, complete with scenic tours, mountain lake vistas, a visit to John Brown's grave, and some time just reading. This last was my favorite part. This  trip was meant specifically to be a retreat, a time away not just to vacation and relax (although we all need to do a little of that!), but to read some material I had been wanting to explore and reflect on where we are as a church in this season of CAPC's ministry and mission.
 
What mountain are we called to climb and in what rivers will we find refreshment for our souls? Armed with the materials from our recent officer's retreat and echoes of the Global Leadership Summit still ringing in my ears, many things came into focus like they had not before. Important things for this church, for each of us and for this community.
 
The Church, capital 'C,' is struggling mightily. Attendance numbers are declining and many churches are making the difficult decision to close. Articles flash across my screen about the dire need to impress upon millennials that they truly do need God otherwise the Church (and they) will be in trouble. But it isn't only the millennials that aren't understanding why God is important (and might even be asking whose God, anyway?), it is much of our world. And yet, even in the midst of this reality, we still gather and worship, our doors remain wide open, and we continue to see God at work in our ministries and missions. Perhaps it is time for the Church to rethink its self understanding and role in God's Kingdom building. Perhaps it is time to shake out the skirts of her teaching and discover that the Holy Spirit is calling us to community and to church in a fresh way. The old wasn't bad, it just isn't meant for this time and for the time to come.
 
One of the issues that has been the topic of our goal setting during our officer's retreat has been one of adding to our numbers. church growth is seen as critical, and yet for all of the things we are doing, no significant growth has occurred. This has perplexed me some and I began looking for answers, but didn't find any that I thought truly captured why that is, until now.  Over the past several months I have been reading about developing and growing multi-ethnic churches. The basic advice from church growth experts has been, 'don't even try it.' Statistics have shown that church growth occurs in churches that are monochromatic far faster than in churches that are racially and ethnically diverse. In addition, as we are an open and affirming congregation and you have called a woman pastor, you can just imagine where we might fall in the statistics.  But that dynamic is changing in churches. There has been an increase in the number of churches that are choosing to be multi-ethnic and have demonstrated that growth is not only possible, but just may be the first sprigs of hope for future church.  
 
I encountered a quote that said, 'If the kingdom of heaven is not segregated, why on earth is the church?' Or, as TD Jakes said in a talk at the GLS, why do we act like a tribe when we worship a God that is global? Perhaps this is part of difficulty churches are facing today. We in America are built upon the idea of freedom for all people's and that nations will come together here, on this soil, more reflective of God's love of all peoples than perhaps anywhere else on earth. How can we, who live in a diverse community, not reflect that Kingdom truth? God calls us to love and serve Him as a people united by faith, not by skin color or balance sheet. And as we come together as such a community we will be incredibly blessed because God will be here, in our midst, moving to draw us together as His people.
 
One of the books I read this past week was the history of this church. Innovation and forward thinking has been part of this church's DNA from the very beginning. Perhaps that has been one of its greatest treasures. CAPC is not bound by what has been but is enriched by the past to be prepared to meet the future head on. Dr. Moment referred to this church as the beacon of light and hope, and our message of hope, love, inclusion and faith is a light that shines through everything that we do or will seek to do here in this wonderful edifice. We can do nothing else, the seeds of courage were planted early on and continue to bear fruit.
 
We will grow as a community of faith as we clarify and build on this vision of Christ's call upon this church to be a sanctuary for all peoples who are united by their love of Christ and dedication to serve, and their willingness to see Christ in each other. We will grow as we break down walls that divide us because we do not understand each other's culture enough to communicate really effectively. We will get better at that as we intentionally learn that God's love is not bound by a particular culture, no one person has all the answers, and that we can all learn more about each other and discover God's depth of love for His people in the diversity of His creation.
 
This season, as we once again turn towards the fall and another program year here at CAPC, I do so with an open heart and assurance that God is calling THIS church in THIS time to an amazing journey of discovery and once again setting the bar higher for understanding what church, Christ's church truly is in this world. We are not afraid, but take courage from the great cloud of witnesses that have gone before us that whisper in our hearts, 'It can be done if it is God's will. And just wait to see what He can do!' 
 
It's time. Our time to shine. Our time to invest ourselves in a work that is truly valuable and has deep meaning. Our time to live as Christ's church as brothers and sisters in Christ, bound by our love of Christ and for each other. I hope to see you on campus this year.
 
In His service,
Pastor Lynn

2015 - A Lenten Season to Know Worship

Worship & Reflect During Lent at CAPC in Plainfield, NJ

Ash Wednesday is February 18, 2015. Join us 5 p.m. at Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Churh in Plainfield, NJ, as we host an evening of quiet mediation though our lighted labarinth, worship, and a simple soup & bread supper to note the beginning of the Lentan Season. Lent is a period of preparation as we encounter the Cross and the Resurrection of Christ, our Savior. Here at Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church you will find numerous opportunities to journey through Lent in a way that not only meets the demands of your schedule, but (and we think even more importantly) deepens your faith and understanding.  Through worship that is authentic, warm and uplifting, educational experiences that challenge and inform, devotions that encourage and so much more, you are invited to join us on the journey of Lent and grow.

Lent at CAPC

View a complete list of our Lentan worship and study services by way of the image below. Our journey will include an online Lenten study of the Gospel of Mark , Lenten devotionals, Crescent Concerts' Festival of Organists, a retracing of the last 24 hours of Jesus earthbound life prior to the cruxifiction, the joy of Palm Sunday, communion on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday Tenebrae Worship with musical lead from Crescent Concerts, and the joy of Easter Sunday worship. Also, in the document, is information on our Soup Kitchen if you wish to serve the community during the season.


2015 Lent at New Jersey church

And Where Are You Off To?

Oftentimes as I was getting on my shoes to head out the back door, my mother would ask me, "And where are you off to?" It could have been almost anywhere...but mostly it was 'out' to play. I loved being outdoors and playing with the other neighborhood kids. We explored, and talked, swam, rode bicycles and pushed the  limits. We were out there having fun and living the life. 

It is an image that came to mind as we begin this new year. Where are we off to? Will our year ahead be filled with exploration and challenge? Will we push the limits, our limits, and realize that we can be so much more? How will we grow as a community of faith and who will we meet along the way?

CAPC is a church on the move. We are 'out there' in ministry and mission, especially our Soup Kitchen that continues to attract new volunteers who share how they enjoy their time together, making a difference in the world. They share how they almost feel guilty because they are having so much fun ministering. But why can't it be that way? 

People come to worship and are moved not only by being in this space with which we are blessed to worship, but are touched by the incredible level of music, by the prayers and words that are shared. Some are surprised that they feel so immediately 'at home' and some sit silently with tears welling up and express gratitude for 'just being here and being so welcomed.' One woman shared that she had been in a lot of different churches, and each one taught her something different, but this church, she said, taught her about love. I cannot think of a better testimony for a church that seeks to live the Gospel.

We have all the other ministries that you will find at other churches, Sunday School and adult education opportunities, book groups and Bible studies, but you will find something more here as well. Outstanding music offerings by very talented and professional musicians and singers. You will find opportunities to serve and learn and grow. You will find a chance to leave your mark here in this place as you answer where God is calling you to make a difference. 

Who knows what the future holds, but we know who holds the future. We might ask you the same question, 'Where are you off to today?" We'd love to hear your response.

Glimpse of Life at Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church

Reflecting on some of our recent worship services, community service, church building renovations, and celebrations, here is a video of Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church (CAPC) life.

Find yourself or a friend in this video montage or be inspired and come to service or worship at CAPC in Plainfield, New Jersey, to join our life of faith, worship, study, celebration, and service.


 

Summer 2014

Summer is here and memories of the long, cold winter we all endured seem to be melting away as the temperatures begin to soar. Temperatures are not the only thing on the way up this season as CAPC continues to renew and grow! As one elder as reported to say, she had never worked so hard in her ministry in all  her years here at CAPC but she said it felt really good. 

Reverend Dr. Gordon Mikoski of Princeton Theological Seminary is preaching here at CAPC on July 13 and 20 and will be leading a discussion after worship on Israel and Palestine. 

The Session is holding its Annual Leadership Retreat on Saturday, July 19 at Ocean Grove (fun, sun and ministry done!). 

Our Summer Choir is up and singing (they wouldn't be running after all!), so come and join in the choir on Sunday mornings (rehearsal begins at 9:15) so we are ready to prepare our hearts for worship during the prelude that begins at 9:45 am during the summer months, worship begins at 10 am.

Our Soup Kitchen remains in full swing on Tuesdays. Although too hot for soup, we switch to salads and other entrees to feed our hungry. Volunteer groups are signing up to help out (how about yours?).

Worship. Service. Learning. Growing. Discerning. That is what is up at CAPC this summer. Why not jump into the experience? It will change your life!

Lent 2014 A Season to Grow

Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church, Plainfield, NJ, presents Lent 2014 - A Season to Grow

Lent is a period of preparation as we encounter the Cross and the Resurrection of Christ, our Savior. Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church is offering an extended and in-depth series of opportunities to enter this season and grow as disciples of Christ. Through worship, lectures, Bible studies, concerts and so much more, you are welcome to come and join us on this amazing journey. We hope you will.  In addition to Lenten devotionals (which are free and can be picked up at the church), review our schedule of events listed below and begin marking your calendars now. Stay tuned as more information becomes available, or contact the church office at 908-756-2468 or email pastor@crescentonline.org to find out more.

Forty days, the number evokes images of a world awash in deep waters, of Jesus in the desert, of people wandering in a desert for forty days x whatever to get to years. Each image brings to mind a season in God's plan for a people that is rich in preparation for a profound change to occur. We, too, are invited to such a season in Lent. Forty days to set aside time each day to quiet our hearts and minds and learn to listen to God's voice more fully. Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church has a rich store of resources available for you and your loved ones to enter into this season of 40 days that promise to be fulfilling and enriching.

Lectures, concerts, illuminated labyrinths for prayer, booklets and journals and so much more await you here. We hope you will join us on the journey to the extent that you feel comfortable. Maybe you are looking for a safe group to explore the topic of forgiveness within (for yourself or for others), our Thursday evening book study may be just what you are seeking.

We are blessed with having Reverend Dr Gordon Mikoski of Princeton Theological Seminary lead our adult education series on Sunday mornings at noon in our beautiful Guild Room, what a wonderful opportunity to be enriched.

Perhaps you are looking to serve (our Soup Kitchen always welcomes new hands), or find that music lifts your soul (check out our concert series). Whatever you select, our prayer is that this season will find you awash in God's Spirit and taking steps towards Christ that will transform your life.
 

The Lenten 2014 Schedule at Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church in Plainfield, NJ


*Ash Wednesday Soup & Worship - March 5:  5:30 - 7:30 pm - Guild Room & Sanctuary* - the official beginning of the Lenten season. A simple meal of soup and bread will be served in the Guild Room beginning at 5:30 pm followed by worship (including imposition of ashes) in the Sanctuary at
7:30 pm.  Attendees will receive a twisted crown of thorns lapel pin as together we begin our journey inward during this season of Lent.

*Thursday Evening Lenten Bible Study: 7-8:30 pm - March 6, 13, 20, 27 April 3, 10 - Forgiveness: A Lenten Study - *join us for a five-week Lenten Bible study based on Marjorie J. Thompson's book of the same title (she also authored *Soul Feast)*. The study explores what forgiveness is, why we need it and how we can go about it. No experience required, just a heart to gather for six weeks for readings (they are short), discussion and fellowship.  Study will be led by Reverend Lynn Santulli.

*Lighted Labyrinth - Wednesday, March 12 & March 26 - 5-7:30 pm - Assembly Room - *luminaries will light a labyrinth-inspired prayer path that will guide participants on a prayerful reflection of Christ's ultimate sacrifice and gift to each of us.  Self-directed, the path is a time for quiet meditation as a special selection of seasonal music plays in the background. (This event was first presented in 2013 and is back by popular demand)

*Sundays, March 9, 16, 23, 30 and April 6 - 12 noon - Guild Room - The Heidelberg Catechism for Today* - Rev. Dr. Gordon Mikoski - What is the source of spiritual comfort in the face of life's challenges? Why should we do good? What are the most basic things that I need to know in order to be a Christian? What difference does it make for us that Jesus descended into hell? Explore answers to these questions and many more in the Lenten course "The Heidelberg Catechism for Today." This 450 year old document was recently retranslated and reaffirmed as one of the central statements of
what it means to be a Presbyterian Christian. The course will be taught by Rev. Dr. Gordon S. Mikoski, associate professor of Christian education at Princeton Theological Seminary and Presbyterian minister.

 *Sunday, March 9 - Festival of Organists - 3 pm - Sanctuary -*the organ has been and continues to be 'instrumental' in our worship. Come and enjoy this festival of talented musicians as they offer their best pieces on our mighty 97-rank Adams organ, one of the largest in NJ. The console will be on a platform in full view for the audience. An event not to be missed! Additional info at: http://crescentconcerts.org

*Saturday, April 5 - Tim Keyes Consort presents The Seven Last Words of Christ -*a benefit concert to support our food missions and ministries at Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church, the music reflects on the last words Christ uttered before His death. Come and be fed by these sacred words,
and be Christ to those who hunger and thirst.

*Crescent Choral Society Concert - Saturday, April 12 at 8 PM* in the Sanctuary. Come hear the *Crescent Choral Society* and chamber orchestra under the direction of our own, F. Allen Artz, present the *Mass in C Major* and *Te Deum*by Hummel. This music will remind you of Mozart and Haydn and will include a colorful instrumental work for eight woodwind instruments.
More info at: http://crescentconcerts.org

 *Palm Sunday - April 13 - 10:30 am - Sanctuary - *palm branches waving, special music playing and joyous worship heralds our celebration of the coming of Christ into Jerusalem.

*Maundy Thursday, April 17 - 7:30 pm - Sanctuary* - Join us for a special worship service whose roots go back to the beginning of Christian history. This service includes the serving of Communion and is a prayerful thanksgiving for the gift of this incredible sacrament in our lives.

*Good Friday, April 18 - Tenebrae Service* - 7:30 pm - Sanctuary- Crescent Concerts presents a powerful and moving worship experience as we journey into darkness and deep, prayerful reflection of God's gift to us in Christ.

*Easter Sunday, April 20 - 10:15 am - Sanctuary* - The brass will be playing and the choir and everyone singing as we break open in celebration and praise for the gift of Easter.  There is even a special Easter pen to be distributed after worship.  Resurrection Egg Hunt scheduled for after
worship.

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A New Year Begins...

With Christmas all neatly packed away in the appropriately labeled boxes snugged back into the crawl space of my house, I eagerly turn to January. I know that some report feeling depressed after the holidays as the final lights of Christmas and New Years are those of the tail lights of the cars of loved ones as they drive away from the house. As much as I treasure all the good that the holidays bring, I always love the feeling of January which stands at the beginning of the year, a fresh slate, a clean start, a new beginning to embrace. 

In the January 5 page of the Upper Room devotional I am reading, it shares how a bumblebee's wingspan seems far too small to lift the heavy weight of the bumble. If I were to look to only my time, talent and treasures as the only means by which I could tackle the year ahead, I would despair. There is much work ahead, many challenges to meet, there is no way I could do this alone. The bumble flies anyway, and so do we because there is something far greater at work than what we can immediately see, namely God.

And so I turn to the new year with an expectant and hopeful heart. I also spend some time doing the following things:
(1)  take a few minutes to breathe, relax after the bustle of the holidays and rest.
(2)  write up what has been accomplished in the past year (I need to do this for our church's annual report, but I always find it inspiring to remember what God has done already
(3)  spend some time daydreaming about what God is calling me to do
(4)  make a list of the challenges that need to be faced and overcome
(5)  make ready for the new (this can be accomplished in so many ways...setting up files, organizing data and information I will need, it also means examining where my time is being spent and assess whether or not it is a good use of my time going forward)
(6)  spend time searching for books to reach, classes to teach or take (I especially enjoy this one!)

Perhaps there are other things that you do to prepare for what comes ahead. I hope that you, too, will be buoyed by the truth that we read in Ezekiel 37:14, "You shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken and will act." God is speaking to each of us today and is calling us to live into our faith, trusting Him more completely, loving Him more deeply and realizing that He has wonderful plans He calls us to accomplish in His name and for His glory. He gives us all we need...Himself.
 
In Christ's Love and mine,
Pastor Lynn