Friday, May 31, 2019

The "Swan Song"

The legend was known to be false as early as the days of ancient Rome, when Pliny the Elder refuted it in Natural History, AD 77:
        "Observation shows that the story that the dying swan sings is false."
But the legend persists in the phrase "swan song." So here it is, my last post.

First, I want to express my deep appreciation for all the love and encouragement I'm receiving as I head into retirement. Specifically, I want to say THANK YOU to the members and friends of First Presbyterian Church of Forest Hills. Your generosity and prayers have moved me to tears.

This, my last parish, has been the best! (Don't tell the other churches.) For years I dreamed of a congregation that reflected the heavenly vision of Revelation 7:9 -- "...a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language..." We weren't wearing white robes, and we didn't amount to a great multitude, but we came from all over the globe to join our hearts in worship! And we have served God as sisters and brothers of Jesus.

As I say farewell, I want to repeat my promise to pray for you (individually and corporately). I know you have the spirit and the gifts, and you will welcome the next pastor to continue the journey as you continue:
+to welcome all people into our diverse family of Christian faith and fellowship,
+to experience and celebrate God’s presence in worship and daily living,
+to share the love of Christ by reaching out to those in need, and
+to proclaim by word and deed the message of God’s love and the Gospel of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

And since blogging has been part of my way of communicating since around the time of the introduction of the first iPhone, I plan to continue reflecting on my journey into retirement with a new one:

If you want to get on the list to receive notifications by text or email when a new post goes up, let me know. Send a request to

--Jack Lohr, Former Pastor

Monday, May 27, 2019

"Keep the Gates Open"

Happy Memorial Day!
Do something to remember, and honor all who sacrificed in the cause of peace.

Here's the video from yesterday's worship service:

Here's the slide show of my memories that I shared at the International Brunch:

THANK YOU for all the memories you shared, and the kind words of farewell! I shall never forget.

Finally, here's my post from my first Memorial Day Sunday with you: Sing to Remember


--Jack Lohr, Pastor (for a few more days)

Thursday, May 23, 2019

More Notes

Discounts and Scholarships Available for Holmes Presbyterian Camp
Thanks to generous donations, Holmes Presbyterian Camp has a limited number of discounts available right now!

Week long overnight camp: Through the end of May, or until funds are gone: 25% off each week overnight camp! 

Camp Q for LGBTQ+ youth: Through June or until funds are gone- 50% off registration.

Day Camp: Register for five weeks and get the sixth week free!

Need based scholarships are also available. (scholarship application deadline is May 30th)


China has tried to install monitoring cameras in churches, including on the pulpit aimed at the congregation. With China’s facial recognition software, that would enable security authorities to identify who shows up at services.
                  --from a column today by Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times


Lois DeLong sent me this note regarding a supporter of "No More Deaths," a group we supported through mission giving:

Dear Lois,  
we're writing to let you know that late yesterday afternoon, the judge in our son's felony case denied a Motion to Dismiss the Charges due to Selective Enforcement, despite clear evidence that his arrest was a targeted act of retaliation by the U.S. Border Patrol.  This means [
29 May 2019] our son will stand trial on three federal felony charges for the simple acts of giving food and water to people lost in the desert. 

We urge you to call the U.S. Attorney's Office today and every day until trial starts and demand they drop the charges against our son.  The numbers to call include:
Prosecutor Anna Wright: desk (520) 620-7446 & mobile (520) 305-0377
Prosecutor Nathaniel Walters: desk (520) 620-7512 & mobile (520) 349-4140 
Tucson General Line: (520) 620-7300
Phoenix General Line: (602) 514-7500
Assistant to U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Strange: (520) 620-7419
That's a lot of numbers, we know!  Feel free to just call one or all of them.  You can also send an email to the lead U.S. Attorney through Amnesty International's website.  You can find a sample calling script here

Our son was arrested the same day No More Deaths/No Mas Muertes, one of the groups he works with in Arizona, released a report detailing Border Patrol's routine interference with the life-saving work of humanitarian aid workers along the border.  Watch the video released with the report.  For a full accounting of our son's journey over the past year, read this long form articlereleased recently in The Intercept.
Thank you for your continued support, Pam & Mark Warren   

Session Met Last Night...

My final meeting as moderator of Session (our governing board) took place last night. Here are some details:
  • We met with Aston Bell, CPA, and voted to have his firm do an audit of our records as of December 31, 2018. In the 3 1/2 years I've been pastor, no review of the books had been done. Session agreed that it makes sense in this time of transition to have confidence that everything's in order, and to get some advice about moving forward. (Plus, at a minimum, we're supposed to have a team of church members do a review annually.) The cost will be $7,250. From time to time internal reviews have been done in the past by church members, but it doesn't appear there has been an audit in recent church history. It's a good idea!
  • We recorded the baptism, May 12, 2019, of Emily Leanna Seepersaud.
  • I reported on my work, and efforts to leave behind useful resources.
  • Session approved final payments to complete my compensation.
  • We noted that my last day in the office will be May 29, and designated May 30-31 as vacation.
  • Session worked on the search for an Interim Pastor, and arrangements for Pulpit Supply. Nadina moderated as I stepped out. (I'm not involved in those decisions.)
  • We discussed Session access to the office computer (there is actually a separate user account for Session, Deacons, Trustees, PNC, and more). It turns out these accounts are not isolated from sensitive office accounts, so they will be removed.
  • We postponed action on a proposal from Karl Stayna to give additional financial compensation to our Administrative Assistant, David Barnett, to recognize the extra responsibility he's carrying in this time of transition. (Don't tell David, but you could let him know you appreciate the work he's doing. AND let him worship on Sunday. Don't vex him with church business! He's in the office, Mon.-Fri., 9-5. Call him at 718-268-4036. Or better, send an e-mail:
  • The next meeting will be scheduled with Rev. Anne Conroy, our new Moderator.
If you have questions, speak to Nadina Grants, Clerk of Session.

--Jack Lohr, Pastor

PS: Although my last day in the office will be Wednesday, it turns out I have one more commitment. Presbytery meets Tuesday, June 4, 2019, at Broadway Presbyterian Church (601 West 114th Street, New York, NY 10025), and I will be there to become "Honorably Retired." I understand that JJ Marasigan will represent the Session in saying a few kind words about me. I'm honored! The docket has us scheduled for 4:15 PM.
Registration begins at 1 P.M. and the meeting starts at 2.  The cost of dinner will be $10.00.
Registration for the meeting closes Friday, May 31.
If you'd like to attend, you can register here:

Ordination Invitation - June 2

This is the Ghanaian fellowship that is part of our Presbytery of New York City. Consider yourself invited!

--Jack Lohr, Pastor

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Ramadan and "We Croak"

"How the Deprivation of Ramadan Helps Care for the Spirit" by Fariha Roisin carries the subtitle  "Detox has become a broken word. Cleansing starts with confronting mortality." Read it for beautiful insight into the grace of mindful fasting and eating.

Those of you who wonder why I keep doing the "We Coak" app might understand more.

--Jack Lohr, Pastor

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Video from Last Sunday

Here's the video from last Sunday's service:

A special thank you to the Rev. Robert Foltz-Morrison, Executive Presbyter, for joining us in worship and offering the benediction!

--Jack Lohr, Pastor