05/12/2021: Joy and Gratitude

I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!” (Psalm 122:1)

There was a great spirit in the sanctuary this past Sunday, as LAC opened the doors of the sanctuary for the first time in a while. As your new pastor, it was a wonderful blessing to experience the warmth and faith of this community’s worship, and I am grateful for the welcome that many of you extended to me after the service. In our time with God and one another, we were able to celebrate the gifts of mothering and parental love, and also the amazing musical gifts that Douglas Kostner has brought to this congregation.

Along with many others, I am grateful to those of you who worked so thoughtfully and cautiously — but also hopefully and joyfully — to attend to the safety protocols that are required. Rest assured that we will continue to prioritize health and discretion however and whenever we gather in person. We will also work to maintain varied options for engagement and connection as each person determines his or her own level of comfort with social interaction.

For those who are ready and willing, I hope you will join us this coming Sunday as the organ sings, the Larchmont Symphonia performs, and the Word of God is read and proclaimed. In person, online, or in spirit, all of God’s children are welcome to connect with us in worship at Larchmont Avenue Church!

Blessings,

Peter

Celebrating 15 Years at LAC

This Sunday, as we welcomed Rev. Bynum, we also celebrated our Director of Music Ministry Douglas Kostner’s 15-year Workiversary!

Douglas writes:

“I’m flattered, honored, appreciative, and really moved by your words, pictures, and the memories you have shared! And even more, I’m inspired to continue to work towards creating something beautiful with you for the joy of worship and the glory of God. Thank you!”

Congratulations, Douglas, and blessings as you continue to share your ministry of creating music, nurturing community, and inspiring wonder!

05/05/2021: Returning to In-Person Worship

Dear Larchmont Avenue Church,
We are thrilled to be able to gather together physically in our beautiful sanctuary once again as we welcome our new Pastor, Rev. Bynum! Our services will continue to be livestreamed via our website, Facebook, and YouTube, but here is an overview of what to expect if you are joining us for the in-person service.
The following are procedures we will use as we reopen the sanctuary for worship: out of an abundance of caution, for now we are limiting sanctuary occupancy in our sanctuary to 28 households (no more than 80 people). There will be some overflow seating available in Russell Hall with a screen to accommodate walk-ins–please register for worship!
We request that you attend only if you are healthy, are showing no signs or symptoms of illness, and have not had any known exposure to COVID-19 in the preceding two weeks. If you have any symptoms, please stay home and worship with us virtually.
As we are testing out a new registration system, we ask that you plan to arrive early in order to complete the wellness survey and temperature check at the Larchmont Avenue entrance. For entry into the church, everyone will use the main sanctuary doors by the elevator side on Larchmont Avenue. Ushers will be there to greet you, confirm your good health, and help you find a seat safely distanced from other congregants, filling the available pews from front to back.
You must wear a mask at all times during the service. You are encouraged to bring your own, though we will have a limited supply of adult-sized masks should you forget yours. You will be asked to use hand sanitizer before entering the sanctuary. There will be no child care, but children are welcome to sit with their families during worship.
For a time, worship will look and sound different:
  • Upon entering the sanctuary, you will be asked to check-in and then be shown where to sit. You will not be able to simply choose your “usual” pew. Families will be able to sit together. Children must stay with their families in the pews.
  • Pews will be marked off to maintain social distancing.
  • To increase air circulation, we will have the windows open. Air conditioning is not recommended in closed spaces pursuant to the latest Presbytery guidelines.
  • There will be no bibles or hymnals. These have been removed from the sanctuary.
  • Cards with QR codes will be placed in the hymnal racks. To access the digital bulletin or to make an online donation, simply open your smartphone’s camera over the QR code and follow the link to access the bulletin and LAC’s giving page via your smartphone’s web browser.
  • There will be no congregational singing of the hymns.
  • There will be no physical contact with those outside family groups, such as handshakes, elbow bumps, or hugs. We will not mingle before or after service but remain in our seats at all times with masks on.
  • Following worship, you will be asked to leave the sanctuary from the back-most aisle first, leaving from the Larchmont Avenue side of the church onto Forest Park Avenue, or directly onto Larchmont Avenue by the elevator, with everyone practicing social distancing.
Despite these restrictions, we will worship God together by joining in prayer, listening to scripture, and reflecting on the music and sermon. Session approved these procedures to help us find ways to ease the isolation of our days by returning to church while keeping our community safe.
We look forward to seeing you on Sunday, LAC!
With Grace and Peace,
Your LAC Worship Staff

04/28/2021: LAC’s Mission Partners Need You!

Each year LAC’s Church and Society Committee distributes approximately $25,000 in grants to our Mission Partners, including such organizations as the Community Resource Center, the Larchmont/Mamaroneck Hunger Task Force, At Home on the Sound, the Community Counseling Center, HOPE Community Services and The Sharing Shelf. Unfortunately, for the second year in a row, COVID19 has prevented LAC from holding its annual Rummage Sale, which has historically provided a good share of the funding for these grants.
Can you help us help our partners? We have three generous donors who have offered to match the first $3,000 we raise. You can help by purchasing a Helping Hand for our Mission Partner Circle of Hope. Our goal is to encircle our mission partners in love and support and the financial support they need. One hand is $50; a pair of hands is $100. Donations of any size are welcome and can be made via Realm: simply select “Helping Hands” from the Fund menu, or by sending a check to the Church Office (Attn: Gloria Haq) with “Helping Hands” on the memo line.
Consider buying a Helping Hand for each member of your household! Donors will be recognized on our Mission Partner Circle of Hope in our weekly newsletter.
Our Mission Partners continue to face unprecedented demand for their services. Together we can support their critical work.
Thank you,
LAC Church and Society Committee
Pat Allen, John Farris, Angie Leissl, John Irving, Kim Larsen, Clark Morehouse, Kim Christiansen, Rob Hitchings

04/14/2021: LAC’s New Senior Pastor is Rev. Dr. Peter Bynum!

Beloved LAC Community,
Last Sunday was a momentous occasion for our church! Our Pastor Nominating Committee led worship and Rev. Dr. Peter Bynum preached a sermon titled “Lifted Up.” (You can watch the service here [LINK] if you missed it!) Later that afternoon, we gathered via Zoom for a Congregational Meeting where the Pastor Nominating Committee shared a full report of their search process and answered questions.
PNC Co-Chair Thea Beaver introduced Rev. Bynum:
You have already “met” our candidate during this morning’s worship, but it is my honor now to formally introduce Rev. Dr. Peter Bynum. Rev. Bynum is the Pastor and head of staff at Mount Pleasant Presbyterian Church in South Carolina. That church has 2800 members! Something for us to strive for?
He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Davidson College and later attended the University of Virginia law school where he earned his JD. His career took a turn when he entered Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond Virginia. He received his Master of Divinity in 2009. In 2017, he earned his Doctor of Divinity at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia.
Reverend Bynum has inspired the PNC with his energy, spiritual maturity, and leadership ability. Having already considered over 100 candidates when we first met Reverend Bynum via Zoom, our committee was immediately impressed. As we continued our conversations with him, our confidence grew. 
In early March, he visited Larchmont with his wife, Stephanie, and his daughter Molly who is currently attending Columbia University. His younger daughter, Kate who is 15, was unable to make the trip, but registered her excitement on the Zoom call when Jim & I told Peter that he was our nominee. 
When the Bynums were leaving Larchmont after the in-person interview with our committee, I told Molly that her father “blew me away.” Immediately, this 18-year old smiled knowingly and said to me, “He blows me away every single day.”
LAC voted unanimously (93 votes in favor, 0 opposing) to call Rev. Dr. Peter Bynum to serve as our next Senior Pastor. He will begin on April 28th, 2021, and his first Sunday leading worship at LAC will be May 9th, 2021. We look forward to welcoming Rev. Bynum and his family into our community!

04/07/2021: Congregational Meeting on April 11

Beloved LAC Community,
Christ is risen, indeed! Hallelujah! This Eastertide is buzzing with exciting news for our Church! In case you missed Sunday’s special announcement (check out the full service here [LINK]), our Pastor Nominating Committee has found someone wonderful to serve as our new Senior Pastor! The candidate will preach this Sunday, April 11th, during our online service, and there will be a special meeting of the congregation of the Larchmont Avenue Church at 1:00 p.m. via Zoom to receive the report of the Pastor Nominating Committee and to vote to call our new Senior Pastor.
Your participation is crucial! In order to conduct the business, we need a quorum of 57 members, preferably on separate devices in order to tabulate votes from multiple-member households.
Please plan on joining us on ZOOM!
Sincerely,
Clark Morehouse and Leah Griggs Pauly
Co-Clerks of Session

03/31/2021: On Proclamation & the Arts

Dear LAC,
During Advent, we talked a little bit about the arts in worship as a type of proclamation as we prepared for this year’s Dancing Magnificat, and as we look forward to another arts-based service for Good Friday, it seems like a good time for a recap:
In our Reformed tradition, proclamation (κήρυγμα / kerygma) is the heart of our worship. We believe that there is something transformative that happens when we gather as a community and read scripture together. The Holy Spirit is at work within us and within the Word of God to lead us to understanding, wisdom, and insight. This act of communal engagement, transformation, and illumination of God’s Word is called proclamation. We are familiar with proclamation happening during the sermon; however, we also experience these moments of transcendence during other parts of worship–from choral anthems that help us to hear God’s Word in a new way to stories of how our mission partners are living out the gospel during the moment for mission.
This Good Friday, we will hear the story of Jesus’s arrest, trial, crucifixion, and death as told in John 18-19. We’ll pause along the way to meditate and reflect with art and music. Our proclamation comes in that space of reflection, where sacred storytelling, art, and the haunting refrain from “O Sacred Head Now Wounded,” are woven together by the Spirit and transformed into something greater than the sum of its components.
Jesus is nailed to the cross / And on the strangest sea
A wife weeps while hugging her husband in his final moments in a COVID-19 unit at St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton, California.
Our art comes from Mary Button’s (the vicar of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Kingston, NY) exhibit Stations of the Cross: Pandemic Hope. Vicar Button juxtaposes traditional stations of the cross with hand-drawn illustrations of hope, resiliency, and relationship as witnessed in news stories covering the COVID-19 pandemic. Each scene is paired with a stanza of Emily Dickinson’s “Hope is the thing with feathers.” Through these multi-media collages, the cosmic story of death and resurrection, of suffering and compassion, is reflected through our shared experience of the past year. In a virtual service, Vicar Button shared:
“My interest in the stations of the cross began when I was in graduate school, exploring the connections between art and the devotional lives of Christians everywhere. I created my first series in 2010, and have created eight more in the ensuing years, each engaging with contemporary social justice issues and bringing those stories into the story of the passion.
What our holy scripture teaches us is that God is with us in our suffering, and the goal of these projects is for us to see Jesus’s suffering in the suffering of those around us. When we can see God in one another and be present in each other’s pain, we can change the world.”
To learn more, or purchase a digital download of the art and accompanying prayer prompts (a portion of all proceeds will go to RIP Medical Debt–$40,000 of medical debt has been forgiven from Pandemic Hope downloads thus far!) please visit Vicar Button’s website, https://www.marybutton.com.
Beloved, it was an honor and a privilege to work on this service. I must confess to feeling somewhat numb and weary as we have passed the one-year mark of online worship, but something broke open in my heart while editing, and I felt a deep sense of both grief and hope. I hope this Good Friday worship experience will be meaningful for you, and will leave you feeling ready to change the world. You may download a bulletin here [LINK] and join us for the livestream at noon on Friday via Facebook and via our website.
With Grace and Peace,
Marranda Major
Church Secretary, Communication Coordinator, and Video Editrix

03/24/2021: COVID-19 Update

Dear LAC,
Spring is in the air! More and more folks within our community are receiving their COVID-19 vaccinations, and schools are preparing for fully in-person instruction. What does this mean for Larchmont Avenue Church? Are we ready to return to worshiping in-person?
The short answer: not yet. Our Elders on Session will continue to carefully discern and to prepare in order to make the transition from pre-recorded to livestreamed in-person services as smooth as possible. LAC’s worship will continue to be online throughout April.
While Sunday worship will remain virtual, LAC is testing out hybrid in-person/Zoom gatherings for both fellowship and ministry:
  • You may have noticed in your bulletin that our boards and committees are beginning to have hybrid meetings with some folks gathering in-person (socially-distanced and masked) in Russell Hall and others joining via Zoom.
  • For early risers, we will join with our church neighbors for an ecumenical sunrise service on Easter morning. Greet your friends and neighbors and celebrate the Risen Lord at 6:30 a.m. in Manor Park near Umbrella Point.
  • With schools resuming in-person instruction, our youth groups, TGIF and SHIFT, will return to hybrid Zoom/in-person meetings on April 11th.
  • LAC has continued to support Midnight Run throughout the pandemic, our youth will help pack and deliver supplies on April 17th.
  • On April 18th, LAC’s students will gather for an in-person Sunday School playdate at 12:30 p.m. at Chatsworth playground.

 

We are excited about some of the events that move us toward in-person worship. Although we are not resuming services in the Sanctuary at this time, we are shifting thoughtfully and carefully toward more in person opportunities, and we appreciate your support and participation in these efforts.
With Grace and Peace,
Your LAC Worship Committee

03/17/2021: Holy Week at LAC

 

Dear LAC,
Many of you have been writing in and calling the office to ask about Holy Week!
Here is the game-plan for our online worship together:
  • Palm Sunday (3/28) will be a regular Sunday morning (10 AM) worship service, led by Rev. Jed Koball. We invite you to have a palm frond or hard house-plant ready to wave while we shout “Hosanna!” and sing “All Glory, Laud, and Honor.” (Read more below about a special opportunity to submit your Palm Sunday Greetings!)
  • Maundy Thursday (4/1) will be led by our Hudson River Presbytery leaders and will be streamed Live on Facebook (and not LAC’s website) at 6:30 p.m.
  • On Good Friday (4/2), we will share in a midday service with special music and space to meditate on scripture at 12:00 p.m.
  • For early risers, our ecumenical partners will gather for an in-person sunrise service on Easter morning. Details regarding time and location are still being confirmed, but watch out for an update in Church Notes.
  • Finally, LAC will hold one service on Easter (4/4) morning at 10:00 a.m. Rev. Jed Koball will preach and Rev. Daniel Yang will preside over Communion–so save a hot cross bun (or special Easter treat of choice) to celebrate with the Sacrament with us virtually!
With Grace and Peace,
Your LAC Worship Team

Share Video Greetings for Palm Sunday & Easter!

For Palm Sunday, rustle up some houseplants (paint your hands green) and shout, “Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord! HOSANNA!” and submit your clip by Wednesday, March 24.
For Easter, greet your LAC family by saying “Hallelujah! Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!”
Please submit your recordings by Wednesday, March 31.

Call Crafters & Creators of All Ages!

As we move through this Lenten season and anticipate Easter, we invite you all to join the Sunday School classes this year as they are in the midst of ‘hiding the alleluias.’ We are inviting you to show off your artistic flair and color in the Alleluia design. We will be ‘hiding’ them as we await Easter when they can be revealed during Easter worship along with our celebration of the risen Lord! Please color and send in your art to LACoffice@lacny.org by Monday, March 29th.

03/10/2021: One Great Hour of Sharing

Dear LAC,
For over 70 years, One Great Hour of Sharing has provided Presbyterians with a way to share God’s love with our neighbors in need around the world. With the COVID-19 pandemic still challenging everything we think we know about our faith, and our ability to stay strong and healthy, the world needs our help more than ever.
One Great Hour of Sharing is the single largest way that Presbyterians come together every year to work for a better world. Each gift to our denomination-wide offering for One Great Hour of Sharing helps improve the lives of the suffering and the vulnerable through three life-saving programs:
Traditionally received during the season of Lent, each gift to OGHS helps to improve the lives of people in these challenging situations. This offering provides us a way to share God’s love with our neighbors in need.
You may make a donation through Realm by selecting “One Great Hour of Sharing” from the fund drop-down menu:
Meet all the needs for which
the world thirsts, O GOD.
May your spring of justice, compassion
and peace spring up quickly
and may it spring up quickly in us.
Amen
Thank you,
Clark Morehouse
Church & Society Committee

02/24/2021: Zoom Progressive Dinner!

Dear LAC,
You are invited to the LAC Winter Connect Virtual Progressive Dinner! Our evening theme will be Community Connect. Enjoy cocktails, dinner and conversations with our LAC Community in the comfort of your own home via Zoom (drink and food are optional!) Our Deacons will host groups.
When? Meet on ZOOM on February 28, 2021
Time?  Cocktails are from 6-6:40 pm and Dinner is from 7-7:40 pm
** New this time — Special children’s table for K-3 students hosted by our High School students from 6 – 6:40 pm
Email Katherine Sinsabaugh (sinkny@gmail.com) and/or Alexandra LeClere (aleclere@aol.com) to register! See you all soon on ZOOM!
Love,
Your LAC Deacons

Sharing Resources

Black History Month may be coming to a close, but our learning continues! If you missed the PCUSA’s National Office-led Black History Month Worship service this morning, you may watch it here. As promised, here are some of the books, films, and plays that y’all loved this month and wanted to share:
Literature:
Documentaries:
  • For a suspenseful and engrossing look at how anti-Black and anti-communist policy shaped (and continues to influence) the Civil Rights movement: MLK/FBI (dir. Sam Pollard, 2020)
  • For an exploration of the role of the Church in Black Americans’ survival, resistance, and flourishing: PBS’s The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This is Our Song (prod. Harry Louis Gates, Jr.)
Theater: