May 2019

The Epistle - LPC Newsletter

May 2019

Peace for the Earth

Diane R. Ford - April 2018

Lincroft Presbyterian Church has been an Earth-Care Congregation for two years! Joanne, Jill, Judy and Dawn have written up the application both years. Below is a reminder of what being an Earth Care Congregation means, followed by an invitation to a special get-away in August.

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Earth Care program promotes stewardship of God’s Earth. Certification recognizes congregations who have made a serious commitment to “till and keep” the garden, a reference to Genesis 2:15. To become an Earth Care Congregation, LPC affirmed the Earth Care pledge to integrate environmental practices and thinking into all facets of its church life, and completed projects and activities in the fields of worship, education, facilities and outreach.

There is a great opportunity for Earth Care Congregations within the bounds of the Synod of the Northeast. This August 6-9, 2019, Presbyterians for Earth Care will be hosting our National Conference at the Stony Point Center in Stony Point, NY.  This year’s theme is “Peace for the Earth: from the Bible to the Front Lines.” The conference will feature theological and scientific insights into our current reality in a rapidly changing climate.

The conference leadership features Rev. Dr. William Brown of Columbia Theological Seminary, Rev. Dr. Jill Crainshaw of Wake Forest School of Divinity, and Sacred Jazz musician Warren B. Cooper.  Highlights include environmental preaching and the lectionary, creation care and family ministries, GreenFaith’s workshop on Multifaith Organizing for the Green New Deal, a panel focused on the ins and outs of building local earth care teams, and several opportunities to explore new ecologically focused liturgical and study resources for congregational use.   A diversity of workshop leaders including national PCUSA staff, ecumenical representatives, environmental non-profits, and interfaith coalitions will share current resources and nurture faithful response to climate change.

I hope that members of our congregation will consider joining this important gathering of Presbyterians committed to caring for the earth.

Watch for more information in this summer’s church bulletins.

Pastor Diane


Once Upon a Tree

words & music by Pepper Choplin
Featuring LPC Choir and Players

What a meaningful night for all who performed and attended.

Dear Cast, Crew and Camera-Man of Once Upon a Time:

To be in the kitchen after we had exited at the conclusion of the performance, standing around the table together — THAT was a moment “at table” with the Living Christ.  The connection and love, humbleness and gratitude that was present was the most powerful moment in the whole night for me.  As you know, LPC has been so blessed with Bob S. — It is that caliber of musician that is needed to work with live performances.  He knew what was going on whenever an imperfection occurred, and covered so well. It was so good to know we had Bob at the helm in a couple of those moments! No one could possibly know there was anything off. Ah, live performance.

Again, I want to say how thankful I am to be here at this church with all of you — and to have Dana come sing has been such a gift.  Jan, Joanne and Patti — how cool it is that you did this with us!  And of course you are always welcome to come for any particular Sunday or season (if not be half/full-timers).

Brandt, our wondrous tech “crew” — again, your skills and “take-charge” (yes, that’s a noun) were exactly what we needed. Bob Nahory has reported to me his plans of possibly putting the whole production on Youtube.  In the meantime, watch our website for a scene he will put there.  Many thanks to Bob for this work! 

The dedication and commitment of our actors inspires me every time we do something like this.  Steve, Phil and Kevin — thank you for the special rehearsals, the care with which you chose props, and of course the building of “Luke’s” set piece. 

And LPC Choir.  You know the power of music. Every Wednesday night, every Sunday morning, you bring the Word of God into our sanctuary. Thank you for stepping into the role of “storyteller,” and for the extra work our solotists put in — Doug, Terry and Delle.

Delle, your organizational support, audio recordings, and attention to detail all year round, and especially during projects like this, are invaluable and we all appreciate this.

See you all Easter Morning, 9:15 in the lounge. The anthem is the final piece from Once Upon a Tree — please look at it a little before Sunday.

In Faith with You,


I reached out to the composer of Once Upon a Tree in an email and got a response. Below are our emails. Let’s save the date to be at Lincoln Center on Memorial Day, 2020! — Diane

Dear Pepper,

I’m just getting out of rehearsal with our small choir — we are performing Once Upon a Tree next week.  And I decided to reach out to you. Thank you for creating this work — well, and for all you bring to our world besides this.

I was a music major (voice and piano) and was fortunate to have strong training in choral conducting.  I’ve been in church ministry (and academic, community and music theater) since I was in my early 20’s (in my mid-50’s now).  

I first directed Once Upon a Tree back in about 2002 with a 30-person choir and a bunch of friends who made up the chamber orchestra. Then I (finally) got to seminary and for my first church as solo pastor, I moved from California to Middletown, New Jersey. Big move — so I purged lots of stuff. But I tucked my copy of Once Upon a Tree in my suitcase (so to speak)!

I pastor Lincroft Presbyterian Church, and last year after they lost their music director, I presented the cantata to the choir and directed it, adding some simple movement of the choir and some dramatization. The congregation was amazed at the production and asked for us to do it again this year.

Although we don’t know one another, I am a musician friend you have not yet met. I wish you God’s richest blessings as you continue to produce healing and beautiful music in this difficult time in our world.

In Faith with You,


Pepper Choplin

What a wonderful note! Thank you for taking the time t
o encourage a composer.

 Just yesterday, Joe Martin and I were making plans for a 20th anniversary version of the work. Since I’ll be writing a cantata on the forty days after Easter for 2020, it will be released in 2021 which is the 20th anniversary of its release.

I continue to get more emails about this than the other cantatas I’ve written. It’s not difficult but is very dramatic. My father died just before I began work and I think that gave it more power through the themes of life and death – and life.

If you like a NYC fix once in a while, bring some friends up for one of my concerts. You’ll find them at “Memorial Day Sunday”, 2019 and December 2, 2019. The resurrection-pentecost cantata will be in 2020 on Memorial Day at Lincoln Center. If you come, make sure I get to meet you.

I hope you have a blessed holy week.
Pepper Choplin



As you may already know, your place of worship is part of the 95-square-mile Navesink Watershed; when the rains fall on your place of worship, those same raindrops eventually find their way to the Navesink River. In that way – and in so many others – you and the members of your faith community are connected to the Navesink River and to all of the other faith communities in the Navesink Watershed.

In that spirit of connection and community, we invite you and all of the members of your faith community to join in a fun and uplifting event to benefit the Navesink River on May 2 from 7 to 9 pm at Rumson Presbyterian Church. We’re calling it An Evening of Food, Drink, Film and Reflection. We’ll be screening the award-winning documentary film The Oyster Farmers, sampling local oysters and other finger food, enjoying local beer and wine, joining together in prayer, and hearing from local faith, environmental and seafood industry leaders.

This event is part of a larger effort to advocate for clean safe water locally and for the Navesink River through the partnership of “Rally for the Navesink.” Rally for the Navesink is a coalition of groups coordinated by Clean Ocean Action dedicated to improving and maintaining water quality in the Navesink River watershed through research, education and policy. The coalition was formed in 2016 in response to a down-grade of over 500 acres of shell fishing area due to pollution. The Navesink River has one of the last remaining direct harvest shell fishing areas in the entire New York/New Jersey metropolitan region from Jamaica Bay to the Shark River. The diversity of wildlife and marine life which are thriving within the river is remarkable and includes many endangered or threatened species.

In addition to the downgrade, the river does not meet recreational standards – the Navesink is impaired for swimming and other direct contact activities, especially after it rains. Recently, the NJ Department of Environmental Protection confirmed that the waterway “remains safe for boating” — a rather low bar in water quality that is not nearly good enough for our local community.

WATERSPIRIT is one of the organizations in the Rally for the Navesink alliance, committed to helping educate the community on the needs of the Navesink Watershed. WATERSPIRIT has partnered with the Rumson Presbyterian Church, GreenFaith, Clean Ocean Action and the Rally for the Navesink to bring the May 2 event to the area.

We see this film as a fun way for the faith and local community to gather, educate, reflect and advocate for the Navesink Watershed and River. We hope you can join us! If you are interested, we would love your help getting the word out about this event by making announcements at your services, posting flyers in your place of worship, and inviting your members. Also, we invite your faith congregation to join the Rally for the Navesink alliance, to help educate and advocate for clean safe water and the Care of Creation locally.

Please call the WATERSPIRIT team at 732-923-9788 or email us at if you have any questions.

To purchase the $15 tickets for the May 2 event, please visit:

More information on Rally for the Navesink

Waterspirit, GreenFaith and The First Presbyterian Church of Rumson


LPC Men’s Discussion Group

We met on April 22 at the Ziegler home for discussion of an important topic raised in the March 10 issue of our subscription to The Wired Word.  The article began with mention of a center of spiritual inquiry based in Ojai, California founded by Jiddu Krishnamurti, a non-Christian Indian mystic philosopher, following his death 33 years ago.  Krishnamurti eventually disavowed organized religious dogma in favor of an open-ended questioning approach to existential matters, an attitude which seems to be increasingly resonant among Americans given results of a 2017 Pew Research Center study that showed more than a quarter of Americans describe themselves as “spiritual but not religious” (compared to 19 percent in 2012).  A sociologist from University of Southern California interprets Krishnamurti’s message in light of this trend as suggesting that many Americans are becoming increasingly disenchanted with and disconnected from established religions, and in response that they are “customizing what they believe and practice to make it fit into their lives, rather than fitting their lives into the religion.” This is a bold and disconcerting claim for those of us who are practitioners of an established religious faith, and which served to kick off a deep discussion on the place of questioning, doubt, certainty, knowledge and assurance in the development of faith.  Some of the questions that we tackled in this discussion included:

  • How much of our faith is based on certainty and how much is based on trust?
  • How comfortable are we with unanswered questions with regard to our theology?
  • How do we arrive at our views about God and spirituality?

Although our conversation revealed a diversity of faith backgrounds among group members, we shared some common perspectives about the constructive presence of doubt in our spiritual lives, and were in strong agreement that LPC is a faith community that encourages and supports sincere examination of our religious principles.  At the close of our evening, we were reassured by several compelling quotes from Tim Suttle, the host of the Paperback Theology blog:

Faith is not about how certain you are about your beliefs. Faith is about what direction you’re moving in your life. Faith isn’t about certitude. Faith is about trajectory, and how you actually live.  

Faith isn’t about eradicating doubt. Faith isn’t about forcing others to believe just like you do. Faith is about moving toward — together — toward the cross despite the fact we don’t know for certain how God will bring life from death.  

The trick is to stick together in friendship even while in deep disagreement; to keep an open mind, ask good questions, and wonder together about what is true, and what our way forward should be. There’s a name for this kind of community. It’s called church, and it is constituted in faith, not certainty, not uniformity of belief.”

“Moving together toward the cross despite uncertainties, sticking together in friendship even in disagreement, keeping an open mind and asking good questions”:  that’s an accurate description of the LPC Men’s Group!  If that sounds appealing to you, please consider joining us at our next meeting.

Attending the April meeting were Kevin, Doug, Bob, Tim, Dave, Phil and Rob.

Upcoming Men’s Group Meeting Dates and Hosts
May 20: Dave
June 17: George