May 16 2024 Thursday Mail

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May 16, 2024



Welcome to National Capital Presbytery

Video Message from the General Presbyter

The Rev. John Molina-Moore

From the Desk of Rev. David Baer, Stated Clerk

From the Desk of Heather Deacon, Dir. Business Affairs

From the Desk of Rev. Tara Spuhler McCabe, Dir. Congregational Dev. & Mission

Letter from the Moderator

The Rev. Dr. Chris Deacon

Crooked Steeple Literary Festival

Featuring Jake Bittle

June 1 – Falls Church Presbyterian Church

DC Capital Pride

June 8

Series on: What to do with your CAT! (Congregational Assessment Tool)

June 10 – Zoom (final session)

Concerts from Kirkwood’s 20th Anniversary

June 15 – Kirkwood Presbyterian Church

Save the Date! Hearts and Minds Prepared for Worship

August 17 – Union Presbyterian Seminary

Sail Away with Us! Retirement Party

September 7 – Celebrating the Rev. Bernice Parker-Jones

Stewardship Kaleidoscope – Real Tools for Real Ministry

September 23-25 –Portland, OR

In this edition . . . .

National Capital Presbytery

and Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church, Washington, DC, invite you to the installation service of Rachel Vaagenes on Sunday, May 19, 2024, at 3:00 p.m., at Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church.

Register for Bible and Church Music Conference 2024 today! Come listen to leaders and speakers like Rev. Dr. Brian Blount and Rev. Shannon Johnson Kershner. For more information about BCMC 2024, please visit

Rev. Dr. Michael Koppel, NCP Minister Member and Faculty at Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, DC. - A new articulation of pastoral theology, care, and counseling. Too often we think and teach in ways that reinforce a mind-body split. This can lead people to self-alienation, impeding holistic, healthy relationships between people, God, and each other. Body Connections takes a different approach, teaching us to see the connections between our embodied experience and faithful spiritual care. Author Michael Koppel focuses on the human body and its relationship to faith and spiritual care. He engages religious texts and traditions as well as scientific insights, offering accessible theology and spiritual practices for healing and care of the body. Our bodies are amazing resources, but we are too often unaware of their power, or unable to harness it in helpful ways for our own good. This remarkable book empowers pastors, counselors, chaplains, seminarians, and caregivers to understand and provide the ministry of care in an entirely new, life-giving way. This book is highly useful for individuals and groups. It is for clergy, chaplains, spiritual directors, seminarians, clinical educators, lay people in churches, and those who are institutionally unaffiliated but care deeply about fostering a holistic spiritual path. The book is available through online retailers including Amazon:


Being introduced at the May 21, 2024, Stated Meeting

Ken Rathje is the new Pastor of Calvary Presbyterian Church in Alexandria, Virginia. He has four children and two grandchildren living in Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, and Massachusetts, plus extended family in Michigan, with brothers and sisters of faith living around the world.

Over the past several years, he led a men's prayer group at the National Presbyterian Church, served in the pulpit supply with National Capital Presbytery, and served as an intern Pastor in Michigan and in Cambridge, England where he also lectured on leadership and earned a Diploma of Theology in Ministry. While at Cambridge he further led pilgrimages to Iona, Scotland, as well as to Jerusalem, and the Sea of Galilee in Israel.

Ken also serves as a volunteer Chaplain for a Veteran Organization in the DMV area, and is a DMin student at Wesley Theological Seminary, where he also earned his Master of Divinity (MDiv). His previous education includes a BS Degree from the U.S. Military Academy, a MBA Degree from Monmouth University, and a MSS Degree from the U.S. Army War College.

Prior to accepting his call to ministry, he held senior positions with the Federal Government (SES), Wells Fargo Bank (VP), and Dawn Foods (CCO). As a Retired US Army Colonel, he served with distinction on the Army Senior Staff at the Pentagon, as well as commanded a Brigade of 2,000 plus soldiers. His combat experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan leading joint and interagency teams were instrumental in affirming his views on leadership and war reparations. His military awards include the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, the Combat Action Badge, the Ranger Tab, and the Army Parachutist Badge. Reach out to Ken here:

Rev. Dr. Allison Jones Lundeen grew up at Rockville Pres. Church and was ordained by National Capital Presbytery in 1996. She served as pastoral intern for Gary Pinder at Lewinsville Pres. Church before moving to Illinois where she served a church in Great Rivers and a church in Chicago Presbytery, for a total of 27 years. She and her husband recently moved back to the DC area. She is not looking for a call- just to reconnect with her home presbytery, do some pulpit supply, and be closer to family. Reach out to Allison here:

Capital Presbytery Missional

But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love. – Ephesians 4:15-16, NRSV

Dear Friends,

We Presbyterians like to say that we are a connec�onal church, but I can’t think of a single �me I’ve heard the word “connec�onal” spoken by someone who wasn’t a Presbyterian reflec�ng on the nature of our church. Some�mes it feels as though this is a circular defini�on Presbyterians are connec�onal, and to be connec�onal is to be Presbyterian so it’s worth unpacking what we mean when we say that we are a connec�onal church.

The first thing to no�ce is that we put the word “church” in the singular. We see ourselves not as many churches in connec�on with one another, but as a single church community, united in discerning and pursuing God’s mission on earth. We affirm the essen�al unity of the church in our cons�tu�on as well: “The par�cular congrega�ons of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) wherever they are, taken collec�vely, cons�tute one church, called the church” (Book of Order, F-3.0201).

To be “connec�onal” is to perceive and live out our faith together in the light of the interrela�onships within the one church that unites many par�cular communi�es. In church governance, there are a series of church councils with authority over a broader and broader part of the one church: sessions, presbyteries, synods, and the General Assembly. Each council par�cipates in the work of the next highest council (by elec�ng commissioners), and each is supported by and accountable to the next highest council.

Are you curious about what’s going on in the life of the presbytery and the wider church? Check in with a member of your church’s session: “Sessions have a par�cular responsibility to par�cipate in the life of the whole church through par�cipa�on in other councils. It is of par�cular importance that sessions … elect, as commissioners to presbytery, ruling elders from the congrega�on, preferably for at least a year, and receive their reports…”(G-3.0202).

You might also reach out to your pastor. Pastors, too, are in a unique posi�on to bear witness to the connec�onal church. They are members of the presbytery, par�cipa�ng in the life and work of the presbytery community (G-2.0503), but also “serve as preachers and teachers of the Word … so that the people are shaped by the patern of the gospel and strengthened for witness and service” (G-2.0501). Through their ministry, pastors can help connect their congrega�on’s witness to the work of the wider

church, through the inspira�on and encouragement they receive from colleagues, and through the resources offered by the presbytery and higher councils.

We are one church, united in Christ, by the work of the Holy Spirit, for God’s glory, through our connec�ons with one another. Thanks be to God!

Yours in Christ, David


One of the things that I was most excited about when I took this job was the opportunity to work with churches as they considered how their physical plants can be a tool of ministry into the future. I haven’t been disappointed on this front! It has been an absolute privilege to walk beside congrega�ons in this way – to hear the stories of yesterday and to dream about the days to come.

I believe that our buildings represent the hopes and dreams of the saints before us who looked out into their communi�es and heard the call to build something in a specific place so that God’s people could gather, and the Word could be proclaimed. The opportuni�es in front of our congrega�ons today are there because of the people who came before us.

This is really at the heart of what is o�en referred to as the “trust” clause in the Book of Order. G-4.02034 assert that all property held by or for a congrega�on is held in trust for the use and benefit of the PC(USA) and that if a property of or held for a congrega�on ceases to be used by that congrega�on as a PC(USA) congrega�on, said property shall be held, used, applied, transferred, or sold by the presbytery. The trust clause acknowledges that our physical plants are here because of those before us and ensures that those who come a�er us are provisioned for. But, as I travel across our presbytery mee�ng with congrega�ons, listening to the stories that hold up the walls and the dreams that encompass hopes for tomorrow, I o�en hear something else. Some�mes its whispered and some�mes it is shouted, but the fear and angst are always the same – “the presbytery just wants to take our property.’

This is a sen�ment that, despite its being untrue, con�nues to be repeated. What I can say, without any hesita�on, is that the presbytery does NOT want the property of any of our congrega�ons. Please do not take this as a slight on your proper�es, I’ve been in many and they are lovely BUT the presbytery would much rather see congrega�onal property used to grow the Kindom of God through vibrant worship and ministry. In reality, the act of ge�ng a property back from a congrega�on and then of caring for that property is a tremendous drain on resources.

Garden Memorial Presbyterian Church is a perfect case study of this. The administra�ve commission dissolved GMPC in June of 2023 a�er determining that there was not an ac�ve session and they had not worshipped together for some �me. Between legal fees and property taxes, the presbytery has invested over $250,000 and countless labor hours between our staff and the volunteers on the administra�on commission. Those are resources that the Presbytery would rather use to support and develop our ac�ve, vibrant congrega�ons!

Let’s work together to change the narra�ve. Let’s change it from “the Presbytery wants to take our property” to “the Presbytery wants to help us grow and develop as a congrega�on.” That is the

Presbytery’s hope and prayer: to see our vibrant and ac�ve congrega�ons develop and grow as the Body of Christ. We want to walk beside congrega�ons as they faithfully discern what it means to be church in this moment in the par�cular place that you have been planted. We want to dream with you, we want to pray with and for you. We want to leverage our collec�ve crea�vity and imagina�on to discern what God is doing both now and next. That is a narra�ve that we are excited to write together!


Greetings People,

The.Landscape.Results .are in! I know you must be anticipating the results as much as I am. You’re not, oh, well these are the moments that get me excited in serving our committees and congregations. DATA! FEEDBACK! Collective Participation! And guess what…

Like a standard annual Doctor Check-up, as a Presbytery, we are abundantly HEALTHY. And like my annual check-ups, the added feedback is, now how are you taking care of your overall soul / or mental health? What do we need to “not be doing” in order to tend to our Spiritual Souls? I liken this Landscape to what would it look like if we, as a Presbytery, took our foot off the accelerator and went down from 120mph to 70mph?

BE STILL (together) and KNOW THAT I AM GOD….

I have some curious questions that CDC (Church Development Committee) and MCC (Mission Coordinating Committee) are leaning into as they discern forming a collective, Equipping Congregations Committee. Our curious questions are:

1. What is “active” stillness? So that the lights stay on when needed but that we are holding space together to see what active rest feels like as a committee.

2. What can mean for us? Sure, there are fewer meetings but honestly, we are not meeting any more or less than usual. But what about still space being restorative.

I am curious about being together and holding still space together. Not apart from one another. There is a vulnerability in this! Sharing space with one another and noticing what is behind us (what has occurred), what is with us (who do we see and who do we not see), and what is before us (what is the Landscape response telling us)? The American Study of Religion data shows that most people in the DMV do believe in God and do not trust organized religion. AND the directive for effective mission is WARM FRIENDLY ENCOUNTERS. Its general and simple. To rebuild trust, we have to be in relationship with one another…holding still space with one another.

Over the summer, members from the Leadership Council and presbytery committees will be actively resting with the Landscape data. We see your responses that there is high Satisfaction and Energy AND your presbytery leadership (Leadership Council, NCP Staff, Presbytery Committees, Clerks of Sessions, Clergy) also still desire a relational connection that needs to be deeper than simply a meeting. So, here we are, our overall health is strong, and our “soul” deserves tending to, together. Not alone! More to come. Rest, Restore, and enjoy together.

Peace and Courage,

Rev. Tara Spuhler McCabe

Siblings in Christ,

Gree�ngs! Peace and Love to you! Earlier this year, we wrote to you, we made announcements during presbytery mee�ngs, we even spoke to some of you face to face. The message was the same, “please, take the �me to fill out the Landscape.” While many of our churches have been diligent in using the CAT, we had not taken the Landscape in ten years. Think about how much has changed during the past ten years. Is your church the same now that it was ten years ago? The presbytery isn’t. Everyone on the Landscape team wants to thank the 316 people that filled out the Landscape survey.

I am wri�ng this the week before Pentecost. I am a big fan of Pentecost. It is a strange, fascina�ng story about the giving of the Holy Spirit. I love the imagery of the disciples, lacking direc�on and unsure what to do. Then the fire and the wind and the tongues and the excitement were all poured out upon them, giving them purpose and direc�on.

There are �mes that we, as individuals and as congrega�ons, may feel like we lack direc�on or are unsure what to do. There are �mes that we need someone to light a Pentecostal fire under our behind! It is my hope that the results of the Landscape can be that proverbial fire for us as individuals, for our congrega�ons, and for our presbytery!

Overall, the results of the Landscape are very posi�ve. We rank very high in both sa�sfac�on and in energy. If you are familiar with the CAT, this puts our presbytery in the transforma�on quadrant. Ideally, this is where we want churches and presbyteries to find themselves. Organiza�ons in this quadrant have higher sa�sfac�on, higher impact, are healthier, and are beter suited for long term sustainability. If you are not familiar with the CAT, being in this quadrant means our presbytery is primed to explore different opportuni�es for growth and impact. It is an exci�ng �me to be a part of the Na�onal Capital Presbytery!

Your Leadership Council met a few weeks ago with Emily Swanson from Holy Cow to go over the results of the Landscape. The excitement was tangible (and not just because we had cake!). We had some good discussions about what these results meant, where the challenges lay, and how we can lean into the posi�ves that were li�ed up. Currently, we are making plans on how and when to share these results with you. Hopefully, like leadership council, you will be excited and inspired about what you hear! Hopefully, like me, you will see the results of great work by our extremely talented Presbytery staff, but also all the people who volunteer their �me on our commitees and commissions. Hopefully, you will picture yourself in the bigger picture of our presbytery and be inspired to find new ways to plug in and be a part of the incredible work being done in the name of Christ.


Hebrews 10:24-25: “And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

DC Capital Pride

Saturday, June 8th

Join us as we support the Capital Pride Parade! Several Presbyterian congregations are coming together to be in the parade, provide hospitality to parade-goers, or contribute supplies. Sign up below. We hope to see you there!

Ways to Participate:

1. Walk
in the Parade 2. Volunteer at 15th Street Presbyterian Church 3. Volunteer at New York Avenue Presbyterian Church 4. Donate supplies
(skate or roll)
Sign Up Sign Up Sign Up Wish List

The CAT Team interpreters are hosting a Series on what to do with your CAT! (final session of the series) Monday nights from 7pm – 8pm via ZOOM pla�orm

It will not necessarily grow your membership BUT it does affect your volunteer and financial impact. We will focus on how this maters for the whole IMPACT of your local congrega�on and community.

Use this
to register: NCP Events | Na�onal Capital Presbytery (
June 10th Spiritual Vitality!
Registra�on is open!


KIRKWOOD PRESBYTERIANCHURCH 8336CarrleighParkway Springfield,VA22152 kirkwoodprescom 20th
Featuring a mini concert by Classical FX and a reception to celebrate! ANNIVERSARY
September 23-25 Portland OR Hilton Portland Downtown 2024 Keynote Speakers Grace
Participate In-Person or Virtually! Amos
J. Disasa

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