The UMC: To Unite or To Divide

Make my joy complete: be of the same mind, have the same love, be of one mind

~Philippians 2

My Dad used to say that any organization that needs to include the word “united” in its name probably isn’t.

Over the next two or three years our denomination will figure out whether we are able to stay together, or whether we need to find an amicable way to split the church. The issue, of course, is the anti-LGBTQ language that is still in the United Methodist Church’s Book of Discipline, decades after it was first inserted.umc-general-conference-2016

It’s not as though everything has remained static.  The gulf dividing conservatives and progressives in the UMC has deepened and widened.  Those of us on the left have chosen a way of ‘Biblical faithfulness’, going about the ministry of the church as though our denominational polity were already as inclusive and just as the love of Jesus. Congregations like ours have decided that all people should be able to marry in our churches, should they so choose.  Our New York Conference has shown its willingness to commission and ordain LGBTQ clergy who are called by God; our bishops have appointed them to congregations where their gifts and graces for ministry are deeply appreciated.  Last year, our friends in the Western Jurisdiction followed the Holy Spirit and elected the UMC’s first out lesbian bishop.

Those on the right have reacted strongly to these actions, banding together into the Wesleyan Covenant Association.  Several conservative churches have been allowed to leave the denomination, taking their property with them.

Somewhere in the middle has emerged a new group, the ‘Uniting Methodist Movement’. This group has urged restraint on both sides, to neither prohibit nor compel discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. They issued this statement:

We urge our communities to affirm the reality that God’s grace can lead all people of any sexual orientation toward greater holiness. We call all of us to uphold our covenantal bonds with each other as we practice the difficult work of mutual love of neighbor. We urge all of us to uphold Christian marriage as a covenant between two faithful people in a relationship of self-giving love. We urge all our actions to reflect the love that Christ has shown us, and we encourage all to assume the best intentions in others – to understand that we are all striving towards perfection, even in our disagreements.

As the UM Queer Clergy Caucus points out, though, this effort at preserving unity at the cost of allowing (but not requiring) discrimination will lead to a divided United Methodist Church. How is that unity?

Meanwhile, a ‘Commission On the Way Forward’ is expected to report its recommendations to the Council of Bishops in the coming year.  I find it hard to imagine they will find a way out of our predicament. But we live in hope.

I pledge to keep you informed of twists and turns along the way.  It is possible that churches like ours will face a difficult and complex choice: to stay within a conflicted denomination, or somehow to join with others in the progressive Methodist movement in forming a church that testifies to the inclusive love of Jesus Christ.

K Karpen

Nellie McKay: A Holiday-ish Concert- A Fundraiser for the Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew


Thursday December 8 7:30 pm.

SPSA Box Office opens at 6:00 pm
Silent Auction 6:30- 7:00 pm
Doors Open at 7:00 pm

$50 General Admission
$25 Students/Seniors
$100 Preferred Seating*
$250 Premium Seating*

*Premium & Preferred tickets include post-performance reception with the artist.

The New Yorker has warily described McKay as funny and touching, ceaselessly clever and scarily talented.

McKay co-created and starred in the award-winning off-Broadway hit Old Hats and has written three acclaimed musical biographies – I Want to Live!, the story of Barbara Graham, the third woman executed in the gas chamber at San Quentin, Silent Spring: It’s Not Nice to Fool Mother Nature, an exploration of environmental pioneer Rachel Carson, and A GIRL NAMED BILL – The Life and Times of Billy Tipton, named one of the Best Concerts of 2014 by The New York Times.

A recipient of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Humanitarian Award in recognition of her dedication to animal rights, Nellie is an annoyingly vocal advocate for feminism, civil rights and other deeply felt progressive ideals. She is currently part of the campaign to get horse-drawn carriages off the streets of New York City.

Nellie has released six full-length albums, including Normal As Blueberry Pie: A Tribute to Doris Day (“among the killer overhauls of American standards – The New York Times) and her latest, My Weekly Reader, music of the 60s produced by Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick ([;Nellie]; manifests more historical grasp than any psych band yet to show its hand. Robert Christgau).

She has won a Theatre World Award for her portrayal of Polly Peachum in the Broadway production of The Threepenny Opera and performed onscreen in the films PS I Love You and Downtown Express, as well as writing original music for the Rob Reiner film Rumor Has It and contributing to the Emmy-winning documentary, Gasland.

Nellie contributed the forward to the 20th anniversary edition of The Sexual Politics of Meat, by Carol J. Adams. Her writing has also appeared in The Onion, Interview and The New York Times Book Review.

Nellie will be sprinkling some holiday songs throughout her repertoire as a way to welcome the season and help raise funds for the preservation of St. Paul and St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church’s historic, landmarked building. There will be a silent auction from 6:30 – 7:00 pm. Check the church’s Web site at for an advance view of items as they come in.

St. Paul and St. Andrew UMC is a diverse, progressive, welcoming and growing congregation dedicated to serving God through worship, fellowship, and action. Rooted in Manhattans Upper West Side but taking the world as our parish, we are known for our work for racial, economic and environmental justice, interfaith action, and radical hospitality and inclusiveness. Energized by a dynamic worshiping congregation of all ages and professions, SPSA has emerged as a center for community action and engagement, launching an emergency food pantry, homeless shelter, after school tutoring program and meals on wheels deliveries for the elderly while partnering with congregations of other denominations and faiths, theater and arts groups and social justice advocacy groups to build a more just and peaceful world.

Tickets available online at:
For concert and auction info call: 212-362-3179

Holiday-ish Silent Auction

This is our first year to offer a silent auction before the Holiday-ish Concert.  We are delighted to offer an outstanding slate of items to you.  

The auction was held in the Parlor and  started at 6:30 pm on Thursday, 12/8/2016. 

Download complete list of Auction Items with pictures (PDF)

 Your Own Original, Personal Portrait Painting

portraitUpper West Side artist Matt Burcaw has been living and painting in New York City for over 40 years. He works primarily in portraiture, in a style called Technical Charismatic. His works are in the collection of the Guggenheim Museum and in the collections of John Lennon and Jean Dubuffet. In his work he strives to capture a particular aspect in the face or body of his subjects. His objective is to see beyond the surface. He will work from photographs both old and new.

Download complete list of Auction Items with pictures (PDF)

The painting desired can be as large as 5 ft. x 4 ft. and of only one subject.

Value: $2,500-3,500

Opening Bid: $750                 Bid Increments: $100

Two VIP Tickets to Taste of Greenwich House 2017

Attend the Taste of Greenwich House benefit event on Monday, March 13, 2017 where some 40 top NYC restaurants bring their “A” game to for all to sample. The event is at the Metropolitan Pavilion 25 W 18th St, New York, NY 10011 Two VIP tickets allow the winner to attend from 6:30pm-9:30pm Other Details: Winner to provide, name, address, email and phone number. Must be at least 21 to attend.

Value: $500 Opening Bid: $200     Bid Increments: $25

Professional Voice or Acting Coaching by Tony Award winner Victoria Clark

vickiA 75-minute acting or voice coaching with Victoria Clark between July 15 and October 15, 2017. Ms. Clark maintains one of the most diverse performing careers of any artist living today, equally at home in plays, musicals, film, television, and the concert stage. Clark received Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle Awards, as well as a Drama League honor for her luminous portrayal of protective but domineering mother Margaret Johnson in the critically-acclaimed, Craig Lucas-Adam Guettel, musical The Light in the Piazza in 2005. Her virtuoso performance in the Lincoln Center Production of the Tony Award-winning musical has made her a favorite among audiences and critics, including The New York Times’ Ben Brantley, who called Clark’s work in Piazza “the best musical performance by an actress this season”.

Value: $200 Opening Bid: $100     Bid Increments: $25

 Flickinger Glassworks

Black enameled 14″ x 8″ trout glass tray for serving food. Dishwasher and
microwave safe. One-of-kind.

Value: $150

Opening Bid: $75                   Bid Increments: $10

Download complete list of Auction Items with pictures (PDF)

Gift Basket of Household Kitchen Goodies from Elizabeth’s Neighborhood Kitchen

Value: $60                 

Opening Bid: $30       Bid Increments: $10

 Four Field Level Tickets and Parking Pass to a 2017 NY Mets’ Game plus one $25 Visa Gift Card

Section 123, Row 6, Seats 1-4: Six rows from the field, 3rd baseline behind the Visitor’s Dugout; includes an aisle seat; access to most clubs; parking pass to preferred parking included. Game to be mutually agreed upon between donor and winner.

Opening Day and Mets vs. Yankees games excluded.

Value: $425 – $825 (depending on game chosen)

Opening Bid: $200     Bid Increments: $50

 Longaberger Large Square Bowl

Perfect for the holidays, decorated with poinsettias, pinecones, pine branches and holly. Comes with a silver bells decorative striped fabric.

Value: $45 Opening Bid: $20       Bid Increments: $5

Download complete list of Auction Items with pictures (PDF)

Longaberger Basket

Lovely hand-woven basket with leather carry straps.  Basket comes with a fitted lid made of 100% hardwood maple with water-based enamel finish.

Value: $30 Opening Bid: $15       Bid Increments: $5

Bolivian Weaving

Lovely, colorful and hand-woven.  Makes a beautiful table runner or wall hanging.

Value: $40      Bid Increments: $5

 Ballet Classes!

One full, 12 week term of Ballet for your child (ages 4-12) at Greenwich House Music School (46 Barrow St), a community music school serving Greenwich Village since 1905. By experiencing the discipline of basic ballet exercises, creative movement and storytelling, children will become aware of their body alignment, motor skills, flexibility and expression through dance. Classical terminology is used, and age-appropriate exercises and games are practiced. The class is an exhilarating place where children discover patterns, space, rhythm and movement within the form of ballet.

Value: $430

Opening Bid: $150     Bid Increments: $50

  Bliss Gift Card

Value: $150

Opening Bid: $50                   Bid Increments: $20

Mindfulness Meditation Sessions

Three sessions (for Corporations or Individuals), 30 minutes each.
Held at business or home. Winner will be contacted to arrange times.

Value:  $600

Opening Bid: $200                 Bid Increments: $50

Private Life Coaching Sessions

Three private Life coaching sessions, 1 hour each.
Insight Out Mindful Coaching. Winner will be contacted to arrange times.

Value: $450

Opening Bid: $175                 Bid Increments: $25

Home-brewed beer

Two six-packs of Reindeer in the Headlights ESB ready to drink at the auction

AND one commissioned brew of five gallons to be made for the buyer including personal label and type.

Value: between $175 and $235

Opening bid: $75                   Bid Increments: $25

Birthday Party or Cocktail Party in Courtyard

Don’t know where to have your kid’s birthday party or a cocktail party for colleagues or friends?  We have the perfect place!  Use the church courtyard.  You and your friends can gather under the twinkling lights and around our picnic tables for the special occasion.  The beautiful surroundings create a uniquely intimate and outdoor space. You bid on the space, we provide the atmosphere. Winner to coordinate with the Church Manager

Value: $300

Opening bid: $150                 Bid increments: $50

Carnegie Hall Concert

2 tickets to an upcoming Carnegie Hall presentation during the 2016-2017 season.  Calendar will be provided.

Value: $150

Opening Bid: $75                   Bid increments: $25

SPSA Clergy Dinner

Dinner with all three members of the SPSA clergy at K’s house.Bring up to 6 friends. Date to be mutually agreed-upon between the clergy and winner.

Value: Priceless

Opening bid: $200                 Bid increments: $50

Rustic Italian Pale Yellow Serving Bowl

Made by Vietri. Perfect for fresh pasta or delicious salads.A magnificent centerpiece for your table!

Value: $125

Opening Bid: $25                   Bid Increments: $10 

Character Naming Rights

The high bidder is entitled to name one character in best-selling middle grades author Chris Grabenstein’s WELCOME TO WONDERLAND series published by Random House Children’s books.

Value: Priceless

Opening Bid: $50                   Bid Increments: $5

Angelo Romano Paintings

Paintings by world-renowned Spanish-Brazilian artist Angelo Romano.

Value: Priceless

Opening Bid: $100                 Bid Increments: $25


Rev. Vicki Flippin

vicki flippin Rev. Vicki Flippin has a passion for bringing new people into the Christian community and helping the church live beyond its walls. She recently served as the Pastor of Social Justice, Exploring Faith, and Inter-generational Ministries at Church of the Village in the West Village. A graduate of Yale Divinity School (2008) and the University of Chicago (2005), Vicki is Co-President of the national Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA). She has served for many years on the steering committee of Methodists in New Directions (MIND). LGBT equality and racial justice are central to her ministry. She is she is committed to encouraging marriage equality in the UMC and has worked hard towards that goal.

Vicki is a member of the New York 2016 Jurisdictional/General Conference delegation, one of the clergy elected to represent our Conference. She has served our Conference as chair of the Conference Commission on Higher Education & Campus Ministry and through the Commission on Religion & Race. She is a sought after preacher, and a blogger for the Huffington Post. Born in Taiwan and raised in the US, Vicki has close ties to her family in Taiwan and in the American Midwest. She enjoys life in Manhattan with her husband, Thomas, a classical guitarist, and their 2-year old daughter Nia.

photo Her appointment to SPSA represents a collaboration with the NY Conference, which will provide support for this new position. Half of her time will be spent nurturing and supporting our wonderful youth ministry and our renewed campus ministry; the other half of her time will be devoted to developing new progressive Christian communities linked to SPSA.

She also has a reputation as a phenomenal preacher, as you can see for yourself with this video of her sermon at the national gathering of Reconciling Congregatons back in 2013: