A Letter from Kelly LePenske

May 2, 2021

THREE YEARS AGO this month, I moved from Princeton to the historic town of Riverton where the Delaware River glistened just beyond the windows of my new apartment. Before I could unpack my boxes, I dove into full-time ministry at First Presbyterian Church in Moorestown and met many of you for the first time. Early on, it became clear to me that FPC was a cherished home for multiple generations, a place where people came to connect with God and each other not just on Sundays, but practically every day of the week. It was easy to feel God’s welcome as I learned the names of preschoolers, teens, adults and lifelong members in their 90s.
I also learned some serious life lessons as a South Jersey resident. Lesson #1: Don’t ever order an ice cream cone with sprinkles; only jimmies. Lesson #2: If anyone asks what you did over the weekend, just say “I went down the shore” even if you drove north to get to the beach. As important as these lessons are for a West Coaster, my favorite memories don’t revolve around ice cream but you, the body of Christ at FPC. The greatest thing I’ll carry with me across the Verrazano Bridge into Brooklyn is the gift of your friendship and generosity.
Thank you for inviting me into your lives, in good times and in hard times, and sharing so much with me––delicious meals, laughter, honest conversations, brilliant questions, prayers next to beeping hospital machines, volunteer projects at the shore, Spirit-led meetings that help our church grow spiritually for the short and long term… and the list goes on. Your stories have enabled me to see the Gospel at work in some truly unforgettable ways. Christ is much closer and available to us in the daily rhythms of our lives than we often believe. Don’t forget to pay attention to the ordinary!
I’m proud of the way FPC Moorestown has embraced cultural change through The 25 Ways, which encourage us to grow from the inside out so that we might become more authentic, committed disciples. I’m praying for our APNC and Youth Director Search Committee, and will celebrate with you all when we know their names as God already does. You will undoubtedly bless them the way you’ve blessed me, with the gracious love and joy of Christ. So, in true English major form, I’m giving my last words to Mary Oliver, a favorite poet who knows how to say thank you best:

“Be slow if you must, but let the heart still play its true part. Love still as once you loved, deeply and without patience. Let God and the world know you are grateful. That the gift has been given.”
– Kelly

Farewell Drive-by Photo Gallery

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