Sundays at 10:15am South corner of 96th Street & Central Park West

Second Presbyterian Church

Seeking a Better World Together

December 2017

Author gbakoulis, Written Dec 1, 2017

Happy December, as we move through the season of Advent with joyful anticipation, and celebrate our lives together and with God and Christ. We continue to grow as a congregation with our Transitional Pastor, Rev. Stephen Phelps, and our Minister of Music, Eunjung Ahn. Always, we cherish times spent together. Please join us as often as you can, and invite others to share in our fellowship.

Whether you are a longtime or new member or are considering making Second Presbyterian Church your spiritual home, we hope you will find ways to engage with us. Please call the church office at 212.749.1700 or speak to any church member if you have questions.


We seek God and practice a welcoming faith, treasuring our times together in God’s presence. We worship on Sundays at 10:15 a.m. in the Sanctuary. Children leave for Sunday School at 10:30 a.m. with their teacher, Pamela Hahn. Following worship (11:30 a.m.), we gather for Coffee Hour in the Carnegie Library.

All members of the congregation are encouraged to assist with worship as lector, beadle, greeter, or offering collector. Please see our Worship Coordinator for December, Susan Gordon-Clark, if you’d like to assist. 

If you’d like to make a donation toward the floral/evergreen beauty of our Sanctuary, please do so by writing a check and using one of the available flower envelopes. If you want to dedicate your gift to someone you love, please print the name clearly on the envelope or tuck a note inside. Please make checks out to SPC and memo “Christmas flowers.” The deadline to turn in names is Sunday, December 17.

Sunday, December 3, First Sunday in Advent: Worship, 10:15 a.m. in the Sanctuary. We will worship in the style of the Taize community, with song, silence, and prayer. Rev. Stephen Phelps celebrating; Eunjung Ahn, Minister of Music.

Sunday, December 10, Second Sunday in Advent: Worship, 10:15 a.m. in the Sanctuary; Rev. Stephen Phelps preaching; Eunjung Ahn, Minister of Music. Our new chimes (and chime ringers) will be featured.

Sunday, December 17, Third Sunday in Advent: Worship, 10:15 a.m. in the Sanctuary. Under the direction of Minister of Music Eunjung Ahn, we will have a special celebration of music during worship, featuring Camille Saint-Saens’ Christmas Oratorio (Oratorio de Noel), based on the Old and New Testaments and other texts and sacred liturgies. The prelude, postlude, and choir pieces will come from the Oratorio. Soloists and special instrumentalists are planned.

Sunday, December 24, Fourth Sunday in Advent and Christmas Eve: Worship, 10:15 a.m. in the Sanctuary; Rev. Stephen Phelps preaching; Eunjung Ahn, Minister of Music. Christmas carols and simple worship, 6:30 p.m. in the Sanctuary. Our own tradition of singing around the piano, followed by a brief service with Rev. Stephen Phelps and Minister of Music Eunjung Ahn.

Sunday, December 31: Worship, 10:15 a.m. in the Sanctuary; Elder Cecilia Blewer preaching, Susanna Nason, musician.

Sunday, January 7, 2018: Worship, 10:15 a.m. in the Sanctuary, with Holy Communion; Rev. Stephen Phelps preaching; Eunjung Ahn, Minister of Music.

Holy Communion in 2018

Sunday, January 7 – Baptism of the Lord (in the pews)

(The worship team will determine whether Communion is served in the pews or by intinction for each remaining date in 2018.)

Sunday, February 4 – First Sunday of February

Wednesday, February 14 – Ash Wednesday

Sunday, March 25 – Palm Sunday

Thursday, March 29 – Maundy Thursday

Sunday, May 20 – Pentecost

Sunday, June 17 – Third Sunday of June

Sunday, September 9 – First Sunday after Labor Day

Sunday, October 7 – World Communion Sunday, with Chinese Community Church

Sunday, November 25 – Reign of Christ

Sunday, December 9 – Second Sunday of Advent


Joint Session and Trustees: Tuesday, December 19, 6:00 p.m., Head of School’s office; followed by separate meetings of each at 7:00 p.m.

Deacons will meet again in early 2018.

Choir rehearsal: Wednesdays, December 6, 13, 20 at 7:00 p.m. in the Carnegie Library, with Minister of Music Eunjung Ahn. Please speak to Eunjung, or email her at ejahn [at] secondpresbyteriannyc [dot] org to learn more. Choir rehearsal will resume Wednesday, January 3, at 7:00 p.m. All are welcome.

Thanks to all who participated in learning and playing the chimes: Susan Gordon-Clark, Debra Griner, Jee-Eun Hong, Kate Kleber, Margaret Neuer, Elaine Song, Elaine Steele, Ken Threet, Constance Campbell, Heidi Schneir, Fern Bartner, Lloyd Bartner.  Special thanks to Roger Simpson for all his behind-the-scenes help and support. We will bring the chimes back to worship in February. Please contact Minister of Music Eunjung Ahn if you’d like to participate.


All are invited to a special coffee hour following worship on Sunday, December 17. We will have sandwiches, and all are invited to bring cookies!

Alexander Robertson School Holiday Program, Thursday, December 14, 6:00 p.m in the Sanctuary; reception following in the Carnegie Library, hosted by the Parents Association. This is an inspiring holiday event; come enjoy it and leave proud of our school.

Update on Interim Pastor Search

by Nancy Hughes, Clerk of Session

The Interim Pastor Nominating Committee, on which I sit with Clayton Young and Neal Boswell, has been meeting weekly since September. So far, we have received 39 applications – 21 “matched” to our position by PC(USA)’s online job bank, and 18 self-referred. In our first round of review, we eliminated 20 applicants based on information on their resumes or Pastor Information Forms (PIFs). Pastors with no experience as an interim, little familiarity with small or urban congregations, and those not yet ordained were rejected quickly. One candidate withdrew when she received another job.

We next began a more in-depth look at the remaining applicants, listening to sermons, reading blog posts, searching Google for anything that would help us discern elements of style, skill, and faith, to help us determine whom we should interview. As of late October, we have narrowed the list down to 12 hopefuls, from whom we expect to select about half for interviews with the committee. We are starting to conduct those interviews.

The interim search process began last summer, while we were engaged in the search for a short-term, part-time pastor and moderator, to start immediately upon Rev. Leslie Merlin’s retirement at the end of August. That search resulted, most happily, in our call to the Rev. Stephen Phelps as Transitional Pastor. At that time, session also approved a job description for a full-time Interim Pastor. Like the Transitional Pastor, the Interim will be chosen by the session. In contrast, our installed pastor will be chosen by the congregation. A significant part of the Interim Pastor’s job is to guide the congregation through a process of reflection, or mission study, to prepare the way for the new installed pastor.

The diversity and life stories of applicants are fascinating – many heard the call to ministry in mid-life, and come from a wide assortment of careers and backgrounds. Many are converts to Presbyterianism from other denominations. An interesting side benefit to the screening process is getting to look at videos of different styles of worship.

Our Presbytery COM liaison, Sharon Davison, has been an invaluable resource and support. As she reminds us, the selection of a pastor involves the search committee, the Presbytery, the candidate, and God. Interested candidates can self-refer online through the PC(USA) CLC website, or by contacting the search committee directly, Nancy Hughes, (212) 288-5765, nhughescsw [at] aol [dot] com.

Pastoral Care During the Transition

During this period of transition, Nancy Hughes, Karen Amrhein, and Elaine Song will serve as contact people for members and regular attendees to call when there is an immediate need to be shared. Examples of needs are hospitalizations, surgeries, deaths, or crises for church members or their family members. When contacted, Nancy, Elaine, or Karen will then learn how we as a congregation may best help someone and learn what information may be shared with Steve Phelps and with our congregation. The idea of having contact numbers was thought of at a meeting we had on ministering to each other in September. During this meeting, we discussed the importance of supporting each other.

Other News

Josephine Jones, who joined our church in 1961, serving as deacon and elder, is the subject of a recently released biography by her daughter, Wendy Jones: An Extraordinary Life: Josephine E. Jones, Ida Bell Publishing, 2017.