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Sunday, June 12 with / Domingo, 12 de junio

The Rev. Stephanie Kendell

11:00 am ET
Rooted in Authenticity: Together

(Laying of the hands at my Ordination on June 10)

Beloved Friends,
I hope that you are well and enjoying the summer sun this week. These warm days are such lovely times to take a walk and see God at work in new ways. There is a new playground with a water feature at the end of my street and a little boy in my building has been so excited to play in it. He talked about it all winter and today, I saw him shouting with joy as he ran through the dancing water in his pride “love is love” bathing suit. God is good, friends. All the time. This week is also special as it is my birthday and ordination anniversary on June 10th. I am so grateful to get to live this life and call with our beloved Park community. I hope you will join me this Sunday in worship at 11am and celebrate all that we have been through together and all that God is doing in us now!
This week’s scripture is a little different. It’s an apocryphal text, meaning that it does not appear in our canon but is recognized as part of the Biblical (and sometimes historical) world. This week we are reading from one of my ordination texts called The Acts of Paul and Thecla. This text is about a woman named Thecla who was a first century Christian, colleague of Paul, and has been called throughout the years and in many Christian traditions "apostle and protomartyr among women" and "equal-to-apostles in sanctity." The text is about a woman who listens to Paul’s teachings and desires to take up a life of teaching and preaching like Paul. Upon hearing this, her mother arranges to have Paul exiled (also referenced in Acts 14:19 and 2 Tim 3:11) and Thecla killed. Facing her end, alone and yet also made a spectacle, Thecla continues to turn to Jesus. Read the text below to find out what happens…

The Acts of Paul and Thecla 34-35, 37-38:

34 Then they threw many animals in, while Thecla stretched out her hands and prayed. Then Thecla turned and saw a trench full of water and said, “Now is the time for me to bathe. And she threw herself in, crying, “In the name of Jesus Christ I baptize myself on my last day.” And seeing, the women and all the crowd cried out, saying, “Do not throw yourself into the water!” so that the governor wept, because the seals intended to eat such beauty. She threw herself into the water in the name of Jesus Christ. The seals floated dead, having seen a flash of lightning. And a cloud of fire surrounded Thecla and the beasts could not touch her, nor could her nakedness be seen.
35 The women wailed when the other fearsome beasts were thrown in, and some threw herbs, others nard, others cassia, others amomum, so that the air was full of the smell of sweet herbs. All the beasts that had been thrown in were held as if by sleep and did not touch her. So, Alexander said to the governor, “I have very fierce bulls—let us bind her to them for the beast- fighting. The governor turned, hating, and said, “Do whatever you wish.” They bound her by her feet between the bulls and under their genitals they put burning irons, so the bulls would kill her since they had been greatly agitated. The bulls leapt about, but the flame, burning all around, burned through the ropes, and it was as if she had not been bound.
37 And the governor called Thecla from the middle of the beasts and said to her, “Who are you, and what is there around you that none of the beasts will touch you?” And she answered, “I [serve] the living God. And as to what is around me, God is well-pleased with whomever believes in [God’s] son. Because of him, none of the beasts touched me. For he alone is the aim of salvation and the ground of hope for eternal life. For he becomes refuge for the tempest-tossed, remission for the oppressed, shelter for the hopeless, and once and for all, whoever does not believe in him will not live forever but die instead.”
38 And after [The Governor] heard these things, [he] commanded that her clothing be brought, and he said, “Put on your clothes.” But Thecla said, “[God] who clothed me when I was naked with the beasts will clothe me with salvation on the day of judgment.” After she received her clothes, she put them on. And the Governor sent an edict immediately, saying, “I release the God-fearing Thecla, [servant] of God, to you.” All the women cried out in a loud voice and with one mouth gave praise to God, saying, “There is one God, the God who saved Thecla,” so that by their voices the entire city shook. 

  • What are stories (or music/ poetry/etc.) in your life that are not from the Bible but have helped you understand God better?
  • Is there a limit to what you can do, if you do it with the help of God?
  • Who are the women (and other marginalized people) that have come before you and make your call in this life possible?
  • Do you consider modern stories-maybe even your own-as a part of the Biblical narrative that we are called to study and share? Why or why not?
Friends, this week I hope in all you do, be it big or small, easy or challenging, you know that your Park community is here for you and that God is always with you.
Shalom Y’all
Rev. Stephanie


Simple Prayer: I will with the help of God.  Amen
Children and Youth Ministry Update
from Nordia Bennett, Children’s Minister

Happy Pride Month!

We celebrate the lives of the LGBTQ+ community, the pursuit of living a truthful, honest, and Spirit inspired life.  

This Sunday, the 10:00am (4th grade or older) youth will explore the importance of storytelling.

Minister Nordia

Co-hosted by Rev. Stephanie Kendell and Rev. Arthur Stewart

Wednesday, June 15, 1:00 pm ET

Celebrate NYC Pride at The Django Featuring C. Anthony Bryant!

Performing Wednesday, June 29, 10:30 pm ET

C Anthony Bryant: I am a global resident of many intersections. Black, SGL, Queer, Christian, and Questioning EVERYTHING. My life, my performance practice and my goals reflect my questioning.  Walking in the humanity that I accept as my own reflects my questioning. My questioning reflects who I am as a Black, Same Gender Loving, Queer, Christian and Questioning individual. I THEN add to this my musicianship and who I am as a performer.  My musicianship and the choices within said context all inform who I present as. I am free and I choose to be free musically and otherwise.  THIS is what it means to be a part of the musical LBGTQIA community.
June 26
Join Pastor Kaji & The Park at Lincoln Center in celebrating the musical genius of Greg Tate at:

Gregory Stephen Ionman Tate (1957-2021) was a giant of Black radical thought and creativity, and a conductor of incandescent, community-driven music. Tate's body of writing as an influential critic would be enough to enshrine him as a cultural icon, but he is equally important to a generation of musicians as both the co-founder of the Black Rock Coalition, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to the complete creative freedom of Black artists; and the creator of Burnt Sugar The Arkestra Chamber, a sprawling, omnivorous, and outrageously accomplished improv collective. Under his co-leadership, BSAC has issued more than 20 releases in its two-decade history, featuring a cavalcade of virtuoso musicians. Tate's sudden passing in December 2021 was a blow to his many loved ones, friends, collaborators, and admirers around the globe. For this homecoming concert, curated and presented with The Tate Family at one of his favorite venues, more than thirty BSAC members will perform in celebration and tribute to one of the most essential voices in the history of 21st Century Avant Groidd music and thought.
Weekly Invitations to Community:
Upcoming Events

Saturday, June 11, Community Lunch Program, 1:00 pm, Manhattan Church of Christ 48 East 80th Street

Saturday, June 18, Community Lunch Program, 1:00 pm, Manhattan Church of Christ 48 East 80th Street

Monday, June 20, Root 2022 Community Conversation, 7:00 pm

Tuesday, June 21, Finance Meeting, 6:00 pm

Tuesday, June 21, Ministry Council, 7:00 pm

Saturday, June 25, Community Lunch Program, 1:00 pm, Manhattan Church of Christ 48 East 80th Street

Sunday, June 26, SoulFood Fellowship, 12:30 pm

Saturday, July 2, Community Lunch Program, 1:00 pm, Manhattan Church of Christ 48 East 80th Street

Sunday, July 3, Elders Meeting, 12:30 pm

Saturday, July 9, Community Lunch Program, 1:00 pm, Manhattan Church of Christ 48 East 80th Street
This Week at The Park is published every Thursday by
Park Avenue Christian Church
1010 Park Avenue at 85th Street, New York, NY 10028

Church office:  212-288-3246.   Office hours are Monday through Friday, 9 am to 5 pm.