Making a fresh start. . .
"Welcome back to school, everyone!" This week, many students and teachers in our congregation and community are headed back to school -- on campus, on line, or both. If you were anywhere near our local Haldane schools this morning (above), you could feel the excitement in the cool, crisp air. And maybe a little nervousness, too.

Back-to-school time is a milepost in our lives. It's a fresh start, too: a chance to meet new people, try new things, explore new ideas, and learn new skills. This school year holds that same promise of joy and creativity and discovery for students, families, and school communities. But this year also brings new concerns, new rules, and new routines to contend with, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For some families, back-to-school means parents and kids at home all day, sharing computers and workspace and bandwidth (human + Internet). For others, it means mask-wearing, temperature-taking, and affirmation-making before a student can step on campus. New hybrid schedules may be in play: in-person one day, online the next. New pop-up tents are now scattered across school grounds like so many mushrooms, creating outdoor classrooms and safe lunch locations. Nearly everything about school will feel new and different this fall. Some things will feel challenging and frustrating.

But we are always in God's care, and that love can help us leap new hurdles, reach new mileposts, and make fresh starts, even in times like these, when our paths are taking some unpredictable turns. That is the theme of this Back-to-School Prayer provided by the Association of Presbyterian Church Educators:

Thank you, God, for new opportunities to learn and grow -- whether it be in an actual classroom, a virtual classroom, or from our homes.

Be with our teachers, leaders, caregivers, and administrators as they guide us into the new school year. Give them the tools and energy to create engaging ways for all of us to learn and grow.

Help us to open our hearts and minds to new ideas, new friends, new leaders, and new ways of learning. Show us how to seek joy in all things.

When things don’t go as planned, help us rejoice in the newness. When we have technical difficulties, help us rejoice in simple things like books and crayons. When we feel lonely or isolated, remind us that you are by our side. When our teachers and caregivers seem worried and wary, help them to be gentle with themselves.

As we begin to explore the unknown of this school year, let us rejoice with new friends, in new ways of learning, in knowing that you are with us through it all.

God of joy and light, pour out your blessing upon these students, families, teachers, and leaders. . .May each of you be a blessing and light in your new year! Go and light up the world! Amen.

This week, let's find ways to support our youth and families and educators and school communities. And, let's look for opportunities to learn and grow, to celebrate our own mileposts, or to make a fresh start. Remember we are still together, even when we're apart. And the best news is that all of us are loved, all the time.
Keep our FPCP college students in your prayers, too! Julie Geller, Riley Johansen, and Molly Reid (above) are starting their college experiences this month, as is Will Speziale. Returning students include Riley Bissinger and Claire Reid. We wish all of these wonderful students all a safe year of learning and growth!
For our benediction, we still form our circle of friends -- but at a safe distance!
From the moment we happily gathered to our peaceful benediction,
we enjoyed another safe and beautiful outdoor service on Sunday at Mayor's Park. Many thanks to Rev. Joe Gilmore, our guest in the "pulpit," to our wonderful Director of Music Tom McCoy on piano, and to everyone who attended, in person or via Zoom. For info about our outdoor/online services, join our e-list! Thanks to Carolyn Llewellyn for this photo. To see more pictures, click the image above & visit our Facebook page!
Pre-Pandemic Picture: Annie & Jean make lunches for a Midnight Run!
Join our Midnight Run Team! Our next trip to help the homeless is Sept. 26.

We are planning a Midnight Run on Saturday, Sept. 26 to to take food, clothing, toiletries, and other critical supplies to people experiencing homelessness in NYC. Longtime FPCP member and volunteer Ron Sopyla is coordinating this mission trip.

"We are in need of drivers to join us on the Run," Ron says. When the pandemic started in spring 2020, Ron made a series of mini-Midnight Runs. These were solo operations, and he drove down to NYC by himself to distribute food and supplies to the homeless. But, says Ron, "the number of homeless people has grown."

To the meet this increasing need, Ron is asking for two additional volunteer drivers to join him on the Midnight Run this month. "One person can pack enough provisions for about 25 people," he notes. Those provisions include sandwiches (see above), hard boiled eggs, fruit, cake or cookies or the famous Friendship Bread baked by FPCP member Susan Jordan, plus juice and water. We also distribute toiletry kits with underwear, socks, soap, and other personal hygiene articles.

"If we can get a third driver to join us, we could also take a small supply of warm clothing, hats, blankets, and sheets with us," Ron says. Those supplies are becoming very important as temperatures grow colder.

"As far as social distancing with homeless goes, our contact is minimal," Ron says. "It only takes a few seconds to hand them a bag of provisions." A worker from our mission partner, the nonprofit Midnight Run organization, helps our volunteers with maintaining social distancing and the wearing of masks on NYC streets. Drivers leave the Cold Spring area about 7 pm, and are generally home shortly after midnight.

For more information, to make a donation, or to volunteer as a driver, please click on the photo above to send an email to Ron Sopyla. Thank you!
Our Bulletin Board
Try our monthly Book Club! In September, we're reading The Dutch House by Ann Patchett. NPR says this novel is part "paradise lost" and part American fairy tale, about a brother and sister raised by their real-estate obsessed father in an ornate mansion (the "Dutch House") after their mother abandons them. Elise LaRocco leads our discussion on Tuesday, Sept. 22 at 7 pm. To join in, email Jean here.
Teens: Join Youth Group! There's a lot going on in this world. Let's talk about it! Join our Youth Group online via Zoom for lively conversations on timely topics, led by Rev. Dr. Doris. Teens generally meet for one hour every other Sunday. All Philipstown teens are welcome to join us -- your family doesn't need to be FPCP members. For more info, and to receive the next Zoom link, email Rev. Dr. Doris.
Kids: Explore big ideas! Sunday School is a great place to explore big ideas. Carolyn, our Youth Ed leader, sends a weekly email to families with stories, activities, and more. Last week we read the story of Moses and the burning bush (see above) and discussed why a fire that never went out was so amazing to desert people who made fires every day to eat and survive. Join our e-list! Email Carolyn here.
Find comfort and caring on our Pastor's Porch.
Rev. Dr. Doris Chandler invites one and all to pull up a chair and sit with her on her "virtual porch." This is a great way to share news or concerns, pray together, or just enjoy quality time with the pastor.

To fix your time on the Pastor's Porch, click the photo at the left and send an email to Doris!
In the midst of this worldwide health crisis, we are grateful we can serve our neighbors in need through critical mission programs, including the Food Pantry and Midnight Run

If you feel called to support FPCP's outreach, we warmly welcome your contributions. If you are a member of the FPCP family and can maintain your church giving at this difficult time, we humbly thank you. To make an online donation, click the image at the left, or right here. Bless you!
Telephone: (845)-265-3220 / Email: