Archive

Tag: Mission

February 7, 2018

 

You wouldn’t believe what happened at First Presbyterian Church in the wee hours of the morning on February 1.

At 4:30 a.m. on that date, almost 100 volunteers arrived at FPC for the Mecklenburg County annual Point in Time count—an annual snapshot of people experiencing homelessness in our county. This was our fourth year to host the event and it was amazing to see how it has grown.

Point in Time counts happen all over the country in large cities, usually in the middle of winter.  It is a one-night, unduplicated estimate of sheltered and unsheltered homeless populations. Sheltered means that a person was in an emergency shelter or transitional housing at the time of the count. Unsheltered means, sadly, what it sounds like—that a person was on the street or in some other place unfit for human habitation.

Volunteers, bundled up in their warmest gear, gathered in our fellowship hall for a hot breakfast and to pick up the amazing amount of donations collected from individuals and agencies across the city. While out seeking individuals to count, they also handed out sleeping bags, blankets, socks, hand warmers, water and hygiene products.

It makes sense that FPC hosts such an important event, as we are located in the heart of Charlotte and serve the heart of Charlotte. Most volunteers head out our doors and walk to where people sleep on the streets or in outdoor camps. Their work is done by 8 a.m. You would never know they had been here. In that way, their work is not unlike the existence of too many of our neighbors who walk, eat and sleep unnoticed and unaccounted for on our city’s streets.

I am grateful that we are able to use our space and our location in way that embodies Christ’s call to see and to love the most marginalized of our society.

~ The Reverend Erika Funk

Take a look at photos taken in Wood Fellowship Hall during the Point in Time count last week.

You can read the 2017 Point in Time Report while waiting for the 2018 report to be published, usually in early April.

You can learn more about the Point in Time count.

 

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February 5, 2018

First Presbyterian Church will take a team to Villa Infantil Maya (VIM), a residence that enables Mayan students to attend middle and high school away from home in a spirit-filled, caring environment.

During the mission trip, First Presbyterian team members will stay in the dorm, interact with the VIM students and perform some construction work to improve the facility. Past groups have painted, sanded and installed concrete. A variety of tasks suit all ages and abilities.

If you are interested in being a part of this exciting and long-running mission, contact Martha Eubank for more details.

The approximate cost for the trip will be $1300-$1400, with scholarship help available.

Here is the anticipated itinerary:

  • Monday: Leave around 9:30 a.m.  Arrive in Cancun in time to shop for supplies for the week.
  • Tuesday-Friday: Work at VIM, meet the students and visit the schools VIM students attend.
  • Friday afternoon: Travel to the quaint colonial town of Valladolid for an afternoon/evening of R&R.
  • Saturday: Return to Charlotte

Watch this video to learn more about the work of Accion Ministries, our mission partners in the Yucatan.

January 29, 2018

To be sure all our students at Westerly Hills Academy have weekend meals, ten additional volunteer contributors to Project Backpack are needed. Please consider contributing to this ministry to make sure students come to school on Monday morning nourished and ready to learn. The commitment will be five bags per month, ending June 6. The shopping list can be found on the sign up link.

January 8, 2018

During an Opportunity Forum last October, Munro Richardson of Read Charlotte challenged our congregation to support literacy at Westerly Hills Academy in one of three ways:  1) help students gain regular access to books by building home libraries, 2) ensure students experience active reading three times per week, and 3) ensure every kindergartener knows his/her letters and phonics by May 2018.

We are putting our energy behind not one, but all three of these challenges—the next one comes up on January 16.

For the next challenge—encouraging active reading—we will sponsor parent dinners and training sessions at Westerly Hills. The first of these is scheduled for Tuesday, January 16, at 5:30 p.m. If you can help with these events, please contact Heather Herring.

Thanks to your generous response to our Christmas Book Drive, we presented each Westerly Hills student with two books to take home on December 18. We plan to add to these home libraries throughout the remainder of the school year. Look for additional collections of gently used books before Spring and Summer breaks.

For the third challenge, FPC members have been working with Read Charlotte and the Westerly Hills administration for two months to develop the curriculum and process around letters and phonics tutoring. We look forward to offering this opportunity to the congregation soon.

 

During the 2017 Alternative Gift Market, your participation raised $12,923 that will be given back to the community and our global partners. This brings total contributions for the last 10 years to $155,175.

The Alternative Gift Market volunteers thank you for your generosity and your willingness to think outside the box for your Christmas gift giving.

December 4, 2017

All are welcome to the Habitat Home Dedication ceremony on Saturday, December 16, at 10 a.m. Be part of this joyful event at 2937 Coronet Way.

Three hours of your time on Saturday, January 13, can help someone transitioning from homelessness into a safe and comfortable home. Eight slots are available on this Ministry Team, which delivers furniture from the Crisis Assistance Furniture Bank at 333 Dalton Avenue. This is a great service and fellowship opportunity for middle school age youth through adult. Sign up online.

December 1, 2017

Our friends with the Urban Ministry Center sent us this update from Room in the Inn:

Friends,

Thanks to all hosts and volunteers that stepped up to the challenge of frigid weather over a holiday weekend. RITI usually experiences a downturn of beds available over holidays, but not this weekend. Congregations added hosting nights, added beds to their already-pledged totals…even in one case taking more neighbors at the end of the evening so that no one had to be turned away. And there were still others who could not host yet emailed me to let me know their hearts were with us.

And thanks to the evening teams and to the RITI “saints” (our on-call volunteers), who showed up in force and worked cheerfully with the neighbors under difficult circumstances. And thanks to Officer Mike Warren, who arrived at the Center at 7 a.m. over the weekend to let neighbors in out of the cold, and who worked with staff and neighbors to make the RITI check-in process run smoothly.

Here are the bed totals for the holiday weekend nights:

  • 12/29 – 129
  • 12/30 – 123
  • 12/31 – 143
  • 01/01 – 195!

The cold weather continues through the week, and here are our bed counts as of this morning:

  • Tuesday – 122
  • Wednesday – 158
  • Thursday – 173
  • Friday – 225
  • Saturday – 143
  • Sunday – 104

Half a century or more ago, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared, “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much it is whether we provide enough for those who have little.” Several millennia ago, another man said, “Inasmuch as you have done it to some of the least of these, you have done it to me.” When we offer hospitality to the most vulnerable among us, we are in essence serving the whole of creation…we are honoring the deeper dimension in which we all are united.

Thanks.

Blessings,

Paul Hanneman

 

First Presbyterian will continue its Room in the Inn hospitality on Monday and Tuesday nights through March, 2018. This includes warm beds, warm food and warm hearts. Sign up today to welcome our neighbors.

July 6, 2017

Welcome to summer! I hope you’re enjoying a slower pace in some way, maybe spending more time with family or even thumbing through a good book.

I wanted to share with you my thanksgiving for the ways God is using the stewardship dollars so many of you committed last fall to support our church’s mission and ministry.

Through the end of May our members’ pledge payments exceeded our budgeted amount by $96,675. I celebrate that First Presbyterian Church is a generous congregation, and that generosity continues to spill over!

The committed pledges of individuals and families allow us to plan confidently to do many things in Christ’s name:

  • feed the hungry
  • teach a third grader about the gift of God’s word in Scripture;
  • support our partnerships in Haiti and Mexico and Russia;
  • provide support for those who are grieving, and
  • lift our voices in praise through the gift of music on Sunday morning.

In all areas of our ministry we are doing the work of the Kingdom.

In 2017 one particular area of focus from our stewardship campaign was to respond to a call to support our local teachers. Charlotte Mecklenburg Superintendent Ann Clark challenged the faith community to support the recruitment and/or retention of excellent teachers by providing money to help them with child-care expenses. Superintendent Clark helped us see that too many teachers were choosing to leave the classroom because they could not afford daycare on their salary.

I am happy to report that First Pres stewardship dollars will be used by three teachers, all of whom work at our partner school, Westerly Hills Academy. The need for this help in retaining excellent teachers was so great that principal Malacy Williams decided to grant one teacher a full scholarship and split the second scholarship 50/50 between two additional teachers. One of the recipients teaches second grade literacy.  The second recipient teaches second grade math. The third recipient is an instructional coach for six teachers in K-5 literacy.

My gratitude overflows: for your generosity, for God’s faithfulness, and for the ways our church serves as an instrument for grace and healing and good in our community and world.

I look forward to seeing you in worship this summer, and appreciate so much who you are as a member of Christ’s body here on 200 West Trade Street.

– Pen Peery

October 26, 2016

Pen mug 7-16I give you a new commandment: that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you ought to love one another. (John 13:34)

Our focus and goal in this year’s annual stewardship campaign is to increase our commitment to care for our neighbors:

  • through a commitment to support Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools;
  • providing more affordable housing for families in danger of falling into homelessness;
  • supporting a medical clinic in Bayonnais, Haiti;
  • an investment in the Villa Infantil de Maya in Mexico;
  • sponsorship of mission co-workers in Havana, Cuba;
  • and upgraded infrastructure for Friendship Trays as they provide meals for the homebound in the Charlotte area.

In order for us to meet these goals two things have to happen: you and I need to share our financial resources with the church, and the church needs to trim the amount of money we spend inside our gates.  Our leadership has a plan to achieve the latter (trimming our expenses).  It’s up to you to deliver on the former (by making a pledge).

This Sunday (October 30), you are invited to bring your pledge card with you to worship.  During the final hymn, you’ll be asked to make your financial commitment by placing your pledge card in baskets on the communion table. (We’ll also have I Pledged cards for all who have pledged already by mail or online.)

What I want you to know is that when you make that commitment this Sunday it is about a whole lot more than making sure our church meets its budget for next year. It is even about a whole lot more than our desire to increase our commitment to outreach.

At the core, committing to give your money for ministry in Christ’s name is how you demonstrate your trust that God can and will provide…for you and for your neighbors.

One of my favorite teachers believes the great test of life and of faith is for us to decide what narrative we will believe: a narrative of scarcity—that there’s not enough to go around—or a narrative of abundance—that God provides us with more than enough.

The reason Lindsey and I make it a point to stretch ourselves a little bit more each year around stewardship season is because we have found joy in discovering—again and again—that our God is a God of abundance.

– Pen Peery