Seasons of Hope

Dear Friends and Supporters,

I am writing to wish you a most blessed season, regardless of which of the religious holy days you celebrate, including those who observe the secular holiday. Our hearts go out to all who have lost loved ones due to the pandemic at this time, as well as the social and financial issues that have affected so many people around the world. Sadly, a disproportionate number of people, compared with many countries, have been affected in our country.

While the burden is carried by so many, it is unacceptable that people of color and those who struggle financially are bearing the brunt of the virus so heavily. Now is the time that we dare to hope and act for those most afflicted. Together with government and local service communities, we can hope for a better day. Emily Dickinson, in her poem “Hope is the Thing with Feathers,” compares the gift of hope to the songbird that is heard in the “chilliest land, And on the strangest sea; Yet, never, in extremity, It asked a crumb of me.” That’s hope. It does not extract, but engages. The Psalmist asks, “How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?” St. Paul makes yet another radical claim that because the song is sung in love, it “hopes all things…” The hope for justice and mercy is an enveloping song to be sung.

Along with so many others, our service Alliance has been facing multiple challenges, even before the upheaval that COVID-19 has brought. Along with all the personal struggles, social service agencies are pressured more than ever. In spite of these challenges, the signs we see applauding first responders and those on the “front lines” of service remind us that we are together in this struggle. Even as we are in this struggle together, we also hope together for a new day.

With abiding gratitude, I share, that while challenged, our service Alliance members continue to faithfully and effectively serve. Our program of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) is now being offered online as a distance learning program; come January 1, this program will branch out to, literally, all the world with a newly formed, independent Distance Learning-CPE Program under the direction of the Rev. Silvia Misina, who has served our CPE program with distinction.

Additionally, our Board of Directors is working to embark on new ways of supporting the efforts of our agency missions, which are an extension of each congregation. Take a “peek” at what we do and hope to do in the future:

Our mission: Working together to further the church’s service in the Greater Metropolitan area.

Our members: The Atlantic District (LCMS), Metropolitan NY Synod (ELCA), Eger Lutheran Homes and Services, Lutheran Counseling Center, Lutheran Social Services of NY, Seafarers International House, The Lutheran Care Network, The Healing Center, and Wartburg.

Our heart is in pastoral, spiritual care offered through Clinical Pastoral Education, with over 400 graduates in 15 years.

We serve over 330,000 people of all ages, each year, with counseling, food banks, hospitality for travelers, care for seafarers, education for youth with special needs, foster and adoptive care services, residential services for the homeless, working poor and for those with psychiatric illnesses, nursing care and assisted living facilities, physical rehabilitation services, victims of intimate and domestic violence, and congregational social service programs.

Learn more: Our expanded mission is built upon that established by our predecessors: United Lutheran Appeal and Lutheran Charities. For more information, please visit our website:; Facebook page:; email:; phone number: 845 596 5649; address: 475 Riverside Drive, Suite #1244 New York, NY 10115.

At the darkest time of year, the song of hope is sung. Thank you for your support in the past, this year and in the coming year as we continue to be drawn into the Psalmist’s question: “How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?”

Grace and Peace in this Advent and Christmastide,

John W. Havrilla, Executive Director
Lutheran Services New York Alliance