The Record

Second Presbyterian Monthly Newsletter - January 2021

Diverse. Inclusive. Community. Engaging. Passionate.


In this time of unprecedented suffering and turmoil, we are learning and growing. Some have called this “The Year of Uncertainty.” Others are calling it “The Year of Question Marks”. When will we be able to feel secure about going out? When will we be able to get back to normal? When will we be able to sit down at a restaurant or visit an Art Museum or attend the theater? When will we be able to go about normal business as before? The answers are still in process, undetermined and unclear.

Here at Second Presbyterian Church, we are grounding ourselves in the hope of resurrection. Through faith, we trust that God will guide us through all the adjustments and changes. God has already brought us this far by faith! None of us wants to return to things as they were (although this nostalgia is heart-felt and real). All want the church to grow. All want the church to continue to become a beacon of hope in the community. All of us are trying to envision change and envision a new life for our church and our community in the near future.

Theologian Donna Schaper suggests that we are always “plotting the resurrection.” Jesus taught his disciples that he would die-- and they disbelieved him. Jesus taught his disciples that he would rise from the dead. His prophetic words proved true. In January and February, the Session will begin envisioning the changes we hope to put in place in the near and far future. We hope to look at our South Loop community with fresh eyes of faith. We hope to find a vision how we can create more of a sense of community through our engagement with others.

Part of this process is the Development Plan. With matching funds from Partners for Sacred Places, we hope to enhance our church physical plant-- to make our space brighter, warmer and more attractive for our community. 80% of those who use our space (pre-Covid-19) are not worshipers, but stakeholders in the community. We hope to become a more vibrant and vitally-needed community center.

Part of this process is plugging into our Strategic Plan, formulated two years ago. We have an opportunity to grow by developing our congregational life in creative ways-- through small groups, through fellowship and affinity groups. Our openness and diversity as a congregation has always been our strength. When the way is clear to open our doors, we want to open our multicultural fellowship to others and see how we can grow together!

We know that changes are coming. We want to be in front of the change. We want to manage change for the increase of mission and ministry for the greater glory of God! Keep our elders and deacons and church staff in your prayers. We are plotting the resurrection!

In Christ,

David M. Neff



Our Pastoral Assistant Leslie Deslauriers recently submitted her thirty day resignation from her position. Leslie came to us as a student at McCormick Theological Seminary over six years ago. Her enthusiasm and love for God's people made her an instant hit with the congregation. The Session in its wisdom developed a continuing position to make good use of her many gifts and talents. She has served with energy, intelligence, imagination and love. She leaves to pursue her calling as a hospital chaplain at Rush University Hospital. We are grateful for her ministry to us and with us! Her farewell sermon will be on Sunday, January 3rd and her final Sunday with us on Sunday, January 10th.


Dear Second Presbyterian Church,

I have found myself to be incredibly fortunate in being part of this community for the past 6 years. I never knew that my field site placement would end up having such a profound impact on my life and my vocation. I want to thank you for giving me the space to grow, to learn, and to find my pastoral identity and authority. I will cherish so many moments I have had in this church and with each of you.

I have felt called to ministry for a long time but I wasn’t able to reconcile my sense of call with working in a church. While I love parish ministry and serving a church, it has never felt “right”. In January, when I began my unit of CPE, I thought I would be done in May and I would be back on the ordination track to become a pastor—even though I was never fully secure in that being my calling. It was late one night/early one morning and I had finished with yet another family whose loved one had died of Covid. I sat in chair that faced the city trying to process my evening. I sat there for a while and I began to see the sun kissing the sky, clouds of pink emerging from their slumber. As I watched the sky turn from indigo to gold, a sense of peace and clarity came over me. Yes, I am called to ministry but not ministry in a church. I feel that I am called to do chaplain work and I would like to explore that call further. I would like to pursue chaplaincy full-time. As I met with patients and staff, I constantly drew on the lessons I have learned in my time at Second Presbyterian Church and it has been through your grace, patience and love that I am able to allow God to use me as an instrument of love and healing. I am excited to see where my journey leads me next and I will always look back at my time here with joy.

I am so incredibly grateful to have had a place here, at your table and in your lives. I have loved watching the way that God has worked in each of you throughout the years and my prayer is that you will continue to be guided by God’s wisdom and compassion. This is an amazing church and I am proud to have been a part of your history. I look forward to seeing you continue to grow and adapt to the world around us but remaining the ever-present house of worship in the South Loop.

My last day will be Sunday, January 10, 2021 with my final sermon being given on Sunday, January 3, 2021. Again, thank you so much for the countless opportunities, the treasured relationships and the wealth of knowledge you have given me. I really am very grateful for it and I know that it has shaped who I am as a woman, as a pastor and as a person.

Peace and blessings,

Leslie Deslauriers


We are a diverse and inclusive community, bringing people to Christ through the power of service, education, hospitality and compassion.


Second Presbyterian Church seeks to be a diverse, vibrant and passionate Christ-centered community of hospitality and outreach actively serving the South Loop, the city of Chicago and the world. We accomplish this through inspirational worship in our historic sanctuary, educational ministry to all ages, and the power of compassionate service to our neighbors.


The Baptism of Jesus is the theme of Dr. Neff's sermon on January 10th. When Jesus was baptized in the Jordan river, he rose out of the water to hear the voice of God say “This is my beloved, my favor rests upon him” (Mark 1: 4-11). On that morning, we will ordain and install Lisa Armstrong, Karen Ashley-Bowman and Ozzie Kinnard as elders; and Nate Battle, Tracy Cargo, Margaret Robinson and Sharon Singer as deacons. We will pray for the spirit of God to rest upon them and guide them in leading us in the way of Jesus Christ. Please join us online for this important service!


We will celebrate the life and legacy of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr with a special service on Sunday, January 17th at 10:55 a.m. Dr. Neff will preach on “Reform or Revolution?” based on John 1:43-51. Did Jesus recruit his disciples to join in a reform of religion or a radical make-over of society? How does Jesus' call to his first disciples address us in the year 2021? We will conclude our service by singing “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by James Weldon Johnson.


At our Zoom Congregational Meeting on November 29th, the following servant-leaders were elected:

Elders: Lisa Armstrong, Karen Ashley-Bowman and Ozzie Kinnard

Deacons: Nate Battle, Tracy Cargo, Peggy Robinson and Sharon Singer

Nominating Committee-- Michael Brown, Dawn Chubb, Barbara Crawford, Lee Jenkins and Chioma Ochiabutor

These officers have been trained and will be examined, ordained and installed in our morning worship on Sunday, January 10th


We are grateful for our outgoing Elders and Deacons for their distinguished service. Outgoing Elders include Eric Annafi, Dr. Argie Johnson and Dr. Lisa Henry-Reid. Outgoing Deacons include Barbara Crawford and Mary Tibbs. We thank our outgoing elders and deacons for a job well done!

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During this time of pandemic and social distancing, members and friends of the church are asked to compose prayers for the people of God. Please send your prayer compositions. We will publish them as they become available. You may also submit your prayer requests by completing this form


The theme is Jesus and Calls in His Ministry. The scripture lessons and themes for January are:

January 3 Called to Proclaim Luke 4

January 10 Called to Significance Luke 5:1-11

January 17 Called to Heal Mark 2: 1-12

January 24 Called as Intercessor John 17:14-24

January 31 Called to Prophesy Acts 1 and 2

All are welcome to join the phone in number is (312) 248-0036.


Dr. Joel Tolliver continues to lead a lively and informative Bible study on the book of Galatians each Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. In January, they will continue on with the book of Ephesians. All are welcome to join in! The phone number is (312) 248-0036.


The Alpha to Omega Bible discussion group is led by Doug Walters each month on the second and fourth Thursdays. The group is studying the gospel of Matthew. The call in number is (312) 248-0036. For more information, please contact Flea Parker at (210) 861-6988.


Book Group: Our next book discussion is On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong. This will take place via Zoom on January 17th at 9:30 a.m. Upcoming books:

February: The War on Neighborhoods by Ryan Lugalia-Hollon and Daniel Cooper

March: Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

April: The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson

Please email Ann Belletire if you would like to join this very lively discussion group at

Join Zoom Meeting: Meeting ID: 825 9510 3879 One tap mobile: +13017158592,,82595103879# US (Germantown) +13126266799,,82595103879# US (Chicago) Dial by your location: +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago) +1 646 558 8656 US (New York) Meeting ID: 825 9510 3879 Find your local number:


Join us on Friday, January 22nd at 6:30 p.m. for our monthly Movie Group. We will be discussing Black Narcissus. A 1947 British psychological drama film written, produced, and directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, and starring Deborah Kerr, Kathleen Byron, Sabu, David Farrar, Flora Robson, Esmond Knight, and Jean Simmons. The title refers to the Caron perfume Narcisse noir.

Topic: Second Movie Group

Time: January 22, 2021 6:30 PM
Join Zoom Meeting:

Meeting ID: 878 3025 7932
Password: 602018
One tap mobile: +13126266799 US (Chicago)


Sandy Baer died peacefully on Sunday morning, December 20th at the University of Chicago Hospital. Sandy was a committed member of Second Presbyterian Church who loved this church in every way. She was a good friend to all; her life touched many circles. She was someone who let the light shine through. Gravesite services were conducted by Pastor Neff. A Witness to the Resurrection service will be held later in the spring or summer. Memorials may be given to Second Presbyterian Church or the Neuroendocrine Tumor Research Foundation. Cards of condolence may be sent to her sister Linda Baer Latsko at 21 Hiawatha Drive, Clarendon Hills, IL 60514. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). We send our prayers and love to the Baer family.


Congratulations to Dr. Spriha Rusmi and Dr. Andy Sackey, married by Dr. Neff in Zoom meeting on Wednesday, December 9th! This Christian-Hindu ceremony included participants from India, Russia, Ghana and the United States.

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1 ~ Davina Ochiabutor

6 ~ Clifford Crawford

13 ~ Dawn Chubb

18 ~ Mary Moss

28 ~ Amen Timbers-Avsar

28 ~ Argie Johnson

Happy Birthday to all!


The 178th Annual Meeting of the Congregation and Corporation will be held on Sunday, January 31st at 12:30 p.m. The Annual Report will be distributed the prior week. The meeting will last approximately one hour. All officers and committee chairs will be available for questions, concerns and comments. The Development Committee will present tentative architectural plans for our projects. The Zoom log-in and phone number will be made available beforehand. Please join us for this important meeting!


Please join us for a special sale after the holidays! Barbara's Basement offers a 50% discount on all the merchandise in the store, including Christmas decorations, designer clothes, home décor and jewelry. Store hours are Tuesday through Friday 10:00 a.m.--1:00 p.m. All proceeds underwrite the mission and ministry of Second Presbyterian Church.


Each year, Second Presbyterian Church pays a “per-capita” apportionment on each member of the church. This goes to support the mission and ministry of the larger church, including the Presbytery of Chicago, the Synod of Lincoln Trails and the General Assembly. Your gift of $36 per person helps the church fund its annual obligation dues to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Please submit your per-capita offering and consider making a gift to help others in our congregation that may find it difficult to give.

Virtual Classes and Discussions and Live Streaming Services

Since the Covid outbreak reached pandemic proportions in March, we have been live streaming our services and offering Zoom and Conference Call facilities for education classes, meetings of Deacons, Session, and Coffee meetings on first Sundays.

For live streaming, initially we were blessed to be able to tap into Adam Deslauriers' (THANK YOU AGAIN ADAM) expertise and creativity to be able to broadcast our services. Session then approved an investment in a two camera system which will enable us to broadcast clearly the spoken word from the pulpit while watching clear images of our Quartet and the church interior. We plan to continue to live stream after the congregation returns to the pews. We have found that among the thousands watching our services live or on YouTube, we have had an audience across the United States and as far away as Africa and Europe!

We continue to work with the engineers to produce the best quality Sanctuary sound we can. We know we still have some challenges. Please be patient while we fine tune the equipment and install the second camera.

Meanwhile, the Zoom, Conference call and Audio Visual installation have cost us nearly $13,000. As a result of our appeal to date, we have raised about 30% of this amount.


Virtual Pledge 2021

A pledge is a commitment to express our faith in concrete, tangible ways. We are asked to return to God a small portion of all the gifts that have been given to us by God. Pledging is not a matter of fundraising; it is a matter of worship. Offering a pledge involves being thankful to God for our material gains and our prosperity. It is a commitment to remembering that God is the source and center of our lives. All good gifts come from God and are given to us as a trust to use wisely and share joyfully. A pledge is a commitment that can be changed at any time as circumstances change. Let us all remember God's many gifts to us and share our blessings through our giving and our living.

The Session


In January 2021, we plan to launch a Campaign to raise $750,000 to match the $250,000 grant we have won from the National Fund for Sacred Places. We will have more detail to share at the Annual Meeting on 29th January. In the meantime, the following are extracts from the draft Case Statement that will form part of our fundraising campaign.

The Importance: Second Presbyterian Church of Chicago (“Second”) has been an integral part of the South Loop Community since moving to its current location in 1874. Its facilities have remained largely untouched since 1901. In the last decade the community has continued to grow and become more diverse, more youthful, and economically disparate. We continue to serve the needs of the changing neighborhood. About 80% of those using our building do not attend our Sunday services. Second is a community asset. In turn we can generate revenue from use of our space. However, the building is in serious need of material upgrades and improvements if we are to provide for our community in the coming decades…

That changed in the 1990s with the redevelopment of the old railway rights of way around Calumet, Indiana and Prairie Avenues and the expansion of McCormick Place Convention Center. As a result, the neighborhood became home to many more families, empty-nesters and a diversity of residents from a wide array of backgrounds.

The church has developed to serve a multi-ethnic population where no racial or ethnic group comprises more than 40% of the membership or congregation.

What happens in the church buildings today?

· Second hosts about 150 guests at our Lunch bag which operates 4 days a week and provides social services guidance to guests.

· Second operates a tutoring program for 25-30 children once a week in conjunction with the Junior League, most of whose volunteers are non-church attenders who live in the neighborhood.

· Second partners with the Inclusive Collective to provide service opportunities to college students and to entertain 60-100 guests at dinners on Sunday evenings.

· Second hosts physical and virtual Farmers’ Markets throughout the year in partnership with community residents. We provide outlets for a variety of crafts, locally baked goods and produce from 30 vendors and meet the fresh, local food needs of 100-200 local consumers each week.

· Second is home to groups of Nigerian, Ghanaian and Togolese diaspora social groups monthly.

· Second provides meeting space to Twelve Step programs and to several community resident and condominium associations.

· Second’s gym is used most days of the week by school and community sports teams, dancers and gymnasts.

· A 60-piece community symphony orchestra practices and performs in Second’s building.

· Second hosts free-to-the-community performances of a sing-a-long Handel’s Messiah and Theodore DuBois’ music (which has been performed by professional vocalists at Second since the 1920s, for the “Seven Last Words of Christ” Good Friday worship service

· Friends of Historic Second Church, a separate 501(3)(c) organization whose mission is the preserve and restore the art and architecture in our National Historic Landmark building, uses halls and meeting rooms for receptions, educational presentations and meetings. In 2019, Friends welcomed more than 3,500 guests.

· The Goals of the Campaign: The electrical, HVAC and plumbing installations all require modernization for safety and operational reasons. We require a permanent and attractive ramp to facilitate accessibility. In addition to these safety issues, we must develop attractively decorated, well-lit and inviting spaces to allow multiple uses and the accommodation of smaller groups for social and educational purposes. Celebrating and promoting through artistic presentations the diversity and inclusiveness of our membership and congregation has increased in importance as Diversity, Equality and Inclusion have become a refrain in American society in 2020.

· What exactly are we doing?

· Electrical: To provide adequate, safe power to the building we need to double the electrical supply to the building, install new circuit panels, remove wiring not consistent with twenty-first century safety standards and install adequate numbers of power outlets throughout the building.

· HVAC: Provide modern, efficient heating and ventilation capabilities to the second and third floors.

· Plumbing: Install adequate women’s restroom facilities; rebuild the sewage vents on the southwest side of the building.

· Reorganize Space: Create new offices and meeting room spaces on the second and third floors, including the meeting room in the northwest corner of the third floor and the oriel window office; modernize and re-configure the office space on the first floor [photographs (and room descriptions) to be incorporated]

· Modernize and redecorate Barbara’s Basement, Fellowship Hall and North Parlor: Remove stage in Fellowship Hall and replace carpeting; augment lighting and make lighting more adaptable to multiple uses; replace ceiling and install additional sound suppression to make room usable during basketball; add door to North Parlor and re-furnish to make room more adaptable.

· Paint: Various areas.


We are seeking to recruit a Capital Campaign Coordinator, the 20 hour a week position that will keep track of the nuts and bolts of our fundraising campaign. Here is the Job Description which has been posted on several sites, including LinkedIn. Please let Cliff Crawford know if you are aware of any potential candidates:


Second Presbyterian Church, a 178-year-old Chicago institution housed in a National Historic Landmark building in the South Loop is undertaking a series of projects to upgrade and modernize its meeting and office spaces and electrical, plumbing and HVAC infrastructure. Second Church has received a $250,000 grant from the National Fund for Sacred Places.

Second seeks to recruit a part time 20 hours per week Capital Campaign Administrator to manage and direct this $1million project over a two-year period.

Job Description

Draft strategic and tactical plans to identify and evaluate willingness of various stakeholders to give and participate in the capital campaign and lay out a strategic approach to future capital fundraising efforts.

Coordinate activities of Campaign Steering Committee to ensure all appropriate information, initiatives and ideas are shared among members. Maintain detailed records of potential and actual donors.

Analyze conversations with potential donors by undertaking independent research on potential donor themes.

Serve as project manager for the capital campaign, including but not limited to the development of campaign marketing materials, social media posts, organizational charts/infrastructure, task force and steering committee recruitment, case statement drafting, donor research, managing pyramid of gifts, pledge tracking/management, oversight over training of volunteers and campaign leadership.

Conduct one-on-one informational interviews and conversations with faith leaders, congregants, municipal leadership, foundation staff, neighbors, community leaders, business owners and other potential capital campaign stakeholders.

Track progress of project via management system which the successful candidate will develop.

At least 5-7 years of experience in executing capital campaigns of at least $750K.

Successful Candidate Characteristics:

Demonstrated successful record of initiating new relationship and developing rapport with donors, faith leaders, philanthropist, preservationist, public officials, foundations officers.

Strong phone and video call presence.

Ability to maintain a high level of confidentiality.

Willingness to work evenings and weekends and adapt to a flexible schedule.

Organizational and project management skills, attention to detail.

Flexibility to work independently and as a member of the team.

Profound knowledge of Capital Campaign work.

Proposed Salary: $22,500-$30,000 p.a.

Congregation and Community

We hope to have plans and concepts to discuss with the congregation at the end of January 2021 and which will develop and build on the plans discussed at the equivalent meeting last year.


Year to date on an Operating Basis, we have generated an Operating Deficit of $35,725.31 including PILP Loan Repayments of $8,708.25. This compares to a forecast Budget Deficit YTD of $42,735.35.

Total Operating Income YTD to 30th November 2020

$ 263,025.15

Total Expenses, including Loan installments

$ 298,750.46

Overall Deficit YTD


Offerings are close to plan. Member giving is $13,277.54 over plan. Non-Member Giving is about $20,000 BELOW plan.

Mission Shop, Wedding and Building Use Revenue have been materially disrupted due to the pandemic, but Mission Shop revenue has been persistent during the summer months. Please do visit Barbara’s Basement, especially as you seek creative ideas for seasonal gifts.

As you will recall, we have received through Wintrust a forgivable loan under the CARES Act Payroll Protection Program of $37,910. We will shortly apply for forgiveness. This amount will then be deemed income.

After making adjustments for the PPP Loan recharacterization, our actual deficit YTD is about $9,200

28th December 2020



Supporting our church’s mission, especially through these trying times is as easy as 1-2-3 With GivePlus Mobile. Our congregation can express it’s generosity in the moment — right from the palm of your hand. Even though we are unable to gather on Sunday's, your giving helps support our efforts in the community and mission of our church. Please try our new app and let us know how your experience was!

1. Download the app GivePlus Church through the App Store and Google Play. Search for “GivePlus Church” to download the app, then be sure to allow access to location services if you’d like to use the app’s Find Churches Near Me feature.

2. Find our church. Search under zipcode 60616 and select Second Presbyterian Church

3. Give!

GivePlus Mobile supports donations via all major debit and credit, as well as ACH donations.

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The Community Outreach Committee is sponsoring a winter coat drive again this year beginning mid-November. You may drop clean coats off at the church Tuesday through Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. or on Sunday mornings. Scarves, hats, gloves and mittens are also welcome.


Old St. Mary's and Second Presbyterian join in a book discussion group every month on the third Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. For January 17th, we will read Saints and Social Justice: A Guide to Changing the World by Brandon Vogt. The book illustrates the seven Catholic Social Teachings with stories of individual saints. (Note: All proceeds from the purchase of the book will go to Catholic Charities). On February we will discuss Begin Again by Eddie S. Glaude, Jr. The book compares James Baldwin's America fifty years ago to our current situation today. For the Zoom and phone-in number, please contact the church office.


Ashley is hard at work on the new 2021 Church Directories and we want to make sure your information is correct! If you have a new phone number, address or email, please let Ashley know by either emailing her ( or by calling the church office (312)225-4951.


Do you feel like you’re missing out on information on the church? Have you missed a worship service that you would have liked to attend? Be sure to read your monthly newsletter, check your email, read the announcements in the back of your bulletin, check the church calendar (on the website and the bulletin board outside of the kitchen, and above the water fountain) and check social media. The calendar on the church website is a google calendar and you can even sync your phone or tablet so that you’ll never miss another church event! If you’d like more information or would like to update your contact information, please contact Pastoral Assistant Leslie Deslauriers ( or call the church office (312) 225-4951.

HIRING: Building Aides For Second Presbyterian Church

We are seeking building aides to staff for building rentals. The duties are to open/allow access to the church and offer a hospitable, friendly and responsible presence to all our guests, closing and securing the church afterwards. Light cleaning duties are required. Hours are flexible (including weekdays and weekends). If you might be interested, please contact the church office (312) 225-4951 or