GA Vice Moderator facing new challenge with cancer diagnosis

March 20, 2015


The Reverend Larissa Kwong Abazia, Vice Moderator of the 221st General Assembly (2014) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), has been diagnosed with cancer.

“I have learned that I have breast cancer after a series of diagnostic tests in the past several weeks. I will be starting chemotherapy on March 24,” she said in a letter to the congregation she serves as pastor, First Presbyterian Church of Forest Hills in Queens, New York.

“I know many of you have faced cancer or supported those who have gone through cancer. I value all of your prayers at this time.”

Kwong Abazia is a native of New Jersey and graduate of Rutgers University and Princeton Theological Seminary. She and her husband, Dan Abazia, have one son.  She was elected Vice Moderator last summer during the General Assembly meeting in Detroit and is serving a two-year term with Heath K. Rada, an elder in the denomination.

“Larissa is and has been a shining light for this denomination both in terms of leadership and personality, and I am honored to serve with her,” Rada said. “We surround her with love and prayers as she journeys through this challenge.”

It’s not clear yet how Kwong Abazia’s diagnosis and medical treatment will affect her moderatorial schedule, but “I hope to continue to lead as normal of a life as possible,” she said.

She and PC(USA) Office of the General Assembly staff will keep people updated and provide reflections on her journey through a web page being created on the PC(USA) website. People will be able to leave thoughts and comments for her there too.

“We encourage people to walk with Larissa on this page,” said the Reverend Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly. “We support her as she courageously battles this disease, and are in deep prayer for her healing.”

The special page will be accessible March 25 via Kwong Abazia’s Vice Moderator’s page.

“The theme of this summer’s General Assembly was ‘Abounding in Hope.’ In the past few months as Vice Moderator and in partnership with Heath Rada, I have seen our denomination’s faithful response to live into God’s beloved community,” Kwong Abazia said.

“As I face this diagnosis, I approach it with the same spirit-filled hope that there is nowhere that we can go where God is not there with us. My work does not end nor does my call pause. I look forward to the ways I will continue to participate in the life of the church in the remainder of my term.”

암 진단으로 인해 새로운 도전을 맞고 있는 부총회장

  1. Larissa, my prayers are with you. As a cancer survivor, I know just how debilitating chemotherapy and radiation treatments can be. Be kind to yourself. Rest each day. Allow your friends and family, including your church family, to support you in simple yet meaningful ways. And trust that the God who loves you and knows every hair upon your precious head--even those that fall from your scalp under the assault of chemo--will bring you the healing and the strength and the peace that you need to fight this battle. As my own doctor said to me, "Rhonda, God has spent your entire lifetime preparing you for this battle. You have the tools that you need to be victorious over cancer." Blessings from a former "Jersey Girl."

    by Rhonda Myers

    May 13, 2015

  2. Our prayers are with you and your family from Cascades Presbytery.

    by aleida jernigan

    March 28, 2015

  3. Larissa, The GACOR committee continues to pray for you. We look forward to the time when you can be with us as we do God's work in the PCUSA. You are uplifted by our prayers from coast to coast. We also pray for your doctors, staff and for your dear family. God's peace be yours today and each step of your journey.

    by Martha Ross-Mockaitis

    March 26, 2015

  4. Special prayers during this Lenten journey and particularly for the past 24 hours you have been upheld . May you know the gentle peace and the quiet comfort of being held and upheld in the arms of the God who never leaves us...Blessings, Gay

    by Gay Mothershed

    March 25, 2015

  5. Prayers for courage and strength, and sense of God's continual presence.

    by Susan Holli

    March 25, 2015

  6. You are being lifted up in prayer here in Missouri Union Presbytery.

    by Joan Erickson

    March 25, 2015

  7. On behalf of many Presbyterians in Detroit who hold you dear, I wanted to share with you that you are being prayed for, that God has responded with a "not yet" answer, and will watch over you and your family in the coming days. Our God is a God of love and on this, you can depend on God to bring you through your journey. Know that you are loved. Christine Sackett

    by Christine Sackett

    March 25, 2015

  8. Dear Larisssa, Know that you are held in prayer from the mountains of West Texas. You will be added to the prayer book of the PW of First Pres in Fort Davis, Tx. We have many survivors in our congregation and know you will walk that walk that they have. Blessings to you, your family and your medical team.

    by vicki maline

    March 25, 2015

  9. Prayers for healing and comfort on this journey. May God provide you with all you need and especially with peace of mind for you and your loved ones.

    by Jane Tuma

    March 24, 2015

  10. Prayers for deep healing.

    by Sarah Sarchet Butter

    March 23, 2015

  11. Dear Larissa, Child of God - may you feel 'enfolded' in His Loving Arms, and be at peace.

    by Linda

    March 23, 2015

  12. Courage

    by Herbert L Simms

    March 23, 2015

  13. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers!

    by Rev. Kathy Nealand

    March 23, 2015

  14. Lifting you, your family, and your medical team up in prayer. By the picture above it looks like your son is around the same age my son was when I was diagnosed. He is now 15. I join those above who are survivors. Be good to yourself and listen to your body. Let people help you and may you find strength in your faith and all those holding you in prayer. Hope abounds.

    by Sue Williams

    March 22, 2015

  15. You are held close in prayer and thought by your brothers and sisters in Christ throughout the church. Peace, comfort, and mercy in the name of our Lord.

    by Julia Schaeffer

    March 21, 2015

  16. Fervent prayers for healing and strength lifted by your sisters and brothers of San Gabriel Presbytery, Larissa. May the love of your church family across the PC(USA) lift your spirits now and through this journey.

    by Wendy Tajima

    March 21, 2015

  17. Many prayers for you and your family. Your beautiful spirit and energy will be your strength. Your love for your husband and child will continue to renew and refresh your soul as their love ministers to you. May you sense God's Holy Presence at every turn and trust that you are never alone. Lots of lights are burning bright in North Dakota for you! Blessings.

    by Rev. Deanna Reikow

    March 21, 2015

  18. As a 9 year breast cancer survivor I send mega prayers and positive thoughts--chemo is difficult but a hopeful and determined attitude does wonders--be a strong, positive patient Larissa!

    by Connie Cosgrove

    March 21, 2015

  19. As a sister clergywoman who saw you in action in Detroit, and a 9 year breast cancer survivor, I lift you and your family up in prayer as you enter this challenging time. No one else's cancer journey is exactly like yours will be, but God is with you with every breath you take each day, guiding you and your team as you work at the best path of treatment for you. Know that many of us are praying for your healing, and be good to yourself--chemo can be hard work; it is OK to take time to rest in God's love! Many prayers!

    by Rev Barb Swartzel

    March 21, 2015

  20. Providence Presbytery walks with you and holds you in our hearts and.prayers.

    by Mark Verdery

    March 21, 2015

  21. You are loved. Healing mercies. The Presbytery of Tampa Bay prays for you!

    by Laurie Palmer

    March 21, 2015

  22. Larissa: So sorry to hear your news. I had breast cancer in 1997 -had a mastectomy and chemo. It was tough but I am alive and well today and so grateful for every day. While under treatment one day at a time. Then allow yourself some downtime and take in all the love and prayers coming your way. Much love and best wishes as you meet this challenge-praying for your treatment and return to health. Dorothy Valin

    by Dorothy Valin

    March 21, 2015

  23. Dear Larissa, it's abundantly clear from your message that cancer doesn't have YOU. Holding you, your family, and your health care team in prayer as you begin your journey.

    by Sandra Hazel

    March 21, 2015

  24. I saw your installation last summer in Detroit, and as a sister clergywoman, I was very proud of you. My thoughts and prayers will be with you during your journey. I have been on that journey with many beautiful and courageous women over the years, including my mother. Prayers to you from Duncannon Presbyterian Church in Carlisle Presbytery in Pennsylvania. By the way, I am also a New Jersey "girl."

    by Suzanne Uittenbogaard

    March 21, 2015

  25. From Newton Presbytery, a friend of your mother. I am a 15 year survivor of breast cancer. The prayers of all those I knew carried me through diagnosis, treatment and recovery. You are added to the prayer list of all you have touched.

    by Paula Benson

    March 21, 2015

  26. I am sorry to here you are have to be on this journey. I have been on breast cancer (Stage 3) journeuy for since Feb, 2013. May you find all the nerve ending, waiting for results a time to enter into the journey in prayer & reflection. May you find God calling someone you never would have had an inkling, has the gifts for a time of the journey. Amd the blessings will abound! God provides, God provides!!. Sending prayers and musch love to you and your medical staff and caregivers. Blessings will abound.

    by Sandi Butterbaugh

    March 21, 2015

  27. My prayers go out to you. God leads you and holds your hands every steps all the way.

    by meirina hutabarat

    March 21, 2015

  28. Prayers ascending from Cincinnati for shalom within yourself and your various families.

    by Teresa Stricklen Eisenlohr

    March 21, 2015

  29. Prayers for healing going up from North Carolina.

    by Janet Morrison

    March 20, 2015

  30. Prayers for healing and we'll have you in the Taize Healing and Wholeness service at Westminster in Portland, OR Saturday night as well.

    by Bud Frimoth

    March 20, 2015

  31. Although the word cancer is crushing to the spirit, please know you are not alone, and we are all here to send positive energy, prayers, and love. Please feel free to take in our love, along with God's embrace to fight for life. May you take time to heal, and may you always know how much you are loved.

    by Peg hazenbush

    March 20, 2015

  32. Larissa, thinking of and praying for you and your family. God be with you, today and every day.

    by Laurie McKnight

    March 20, 2015

  33. I am a two-time breast cancer survivor. There are many of us out there. You have my prayers and support. My advice is don't rely on the internet. There is so much misinformation out there. Listen to your doctors. Peace be with you. Prayers.

    by Beverly Steed

    March 20, 2015

  34. Praying for you and your family-- Peace, peace, peace...

    by Robin Miller Curras

    March 20, 2015

  35. Larissa, I am just sick about the news, the only thing I have been able to say over and over again is DAMN, probably not the best thing to say to a Pastor,'s how I feel. I know this is something that can be beat, and you are just the woman to do it, I just sure wish it wasn't happening. Thinking and praying for you, Dan and Jonathan

    by Kim Alexander

    March 20, 2015

  36. Larissa, The prayers of Wabash Valley are lifted up for you! Peace and prayers

    by Jill Kitowski

    March 20, 2015

  37. Love and prayers, Larissa, as you live with this diagnosis and treatment, and as you continue your courageous ministry and radiant life at home and in the world.

    by Alistair Drummond

    March 20, 2015

  38. Cancer is a scary word within a scarier sentence beginning with "you have....". Good thing that our Lord is with us when these words are spoken together, and He is still with us as we journey through the challenges they represent. Prayers of health are sent your way...

    by Flor Vélez

    March 20, 2015

  39. Our prayers are with you and your whole family. May you know God's loving and healing embrace.

    by Linda Gaden

    March 20, 2015

  40. i am a 11 month Breast cancer survivor stage IIB ; my mantra for the past 11 months has been "God's Got This!" I pray that you too will know that God does have this for you because otherwise the journey would be unbearable. Love, prayers and blessings from a fellow "pink" sister and a sister in Christ.

    by Maggie Sandoval-Flores

    March 20, 2015

  41. Our prayers are with you in the northwest Chicago suburbs.

    by Rev. Alisa Secrest

    March 20, 2015

  42. You will be in our prayers in Giddings-Lovejoy. God bless and keep you.

    by Anita Hendrix

    March 20, 2015

  43. Larissa, I am walking with you and your family in prayers. Sending deep love and abiding hope...

    by Jacki Belile

    March 20, 2015

  44. I'm a 12-year survivor of Stage 3 breast cancer. My pastor's wife, who survived 22 years, taught me to live with cancer. When I learned my odds of surviving 5 years were 60%, she told me, "You see yourself as part of that 60%. Even if it were 5%, you see yourself as part of that surviving percentage." My prayer for you is that you'll have the overwhelming support that I had and that you'll feel God present with you in the muck.

    by Estelene

    March 20, 2015

  45. God bless you, and may you experience a speedy recovery.

    by Linda Zhou

    March 20, 2015

  46. Larissa, I am so sorry to hear your news. I learned from Nick that it is important to maintains a positive outlook and search your "Tigger" within you. You are in my thoughts. Love, Sharon

    by Sharon Linstid

    March 20, 2015

  47. So sorry to hear your news, Larissa! I am holding you and yours in prayer. I know how scary the diagnosis is, hoping you will enjoy remission and healing. I know that God's embrace is there for you and yours

    by Judy Kolwicz

    March 20, 2015

  48. I join in prayer with you and your family, and the Church, as you walk this narrow passage. Cancer is a frightening word and a frightening disease but the treatment that exists now is better than ever. I pray for you courage, peace and all the gifts of the Spirit that you need at this moment.

    by Roy Howard

    March 20, 2015

  49. Larissa, prayers are with you and your family.

    by Bobbi White, GP, Western North Carolina Presbytery

    March 20, 2015

  50. Praying healing mercies for you, Larissa, and strength for the journey for you and your family. All will be well.

    by Sarah Erickson

    March 20, 2015

  51. Our prayers from Emmanuel Indonesian Presbyterian Church, Rockville, Maryland.

    by Victorius Hamel

    March 20, 2015

  52. Our prayers are with you in this part of your journey. I am confident that you are in God's strong and gentle arms, and that there is no better place where you could be.

    by Rev. Betsy Simpson

    March 20, 2015

  53. Prayers ascending from your brothers and sisters in the Presbytery of Susquehanna Valley

    by Judith A Gage

    March 20, 2015

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