Friday, April 17
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Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery
Ohio, West Virginia
By 2008, First Westminster Presbyterian Church of Steubenville was a congregation in decline. Worship was no longer held in the sanctuary but in a small chapel that could comfortably hold the 15–20 people who came.
The congregation hired Jason Elliott, an MDiv student at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, as Christian education director. The hope was that he could get the young people back in church. The people of First Westminster rallied behind him, and in 2010 Rev. Jason Elliott became the installed pastor.
YouthWorks, a national Christian summer outreach organization, began working with Steubenville young people in 2007 and had by 2008 become a spiritual partner with First Westminster. Starting with a small group of children in the downtown area, the summer program has grown to over 600 kids each summer who can’t wait for the program to begin.
Out of this work came Soles for Christ, a program in which First Westminster provided shoes to children in need through the local schools. The congregation also developed an after-school tutoring program. During the school year, members follow up with the children who participated in the YouthWorks summer program.
The congregation also hosts ecumenical Bible studies, with 45–60 regularly in attendance, about a quarter of which come from First Westminster. The rest come from different denominations in the community.
One of the blessings of community involvement is that more people in need are being reached. But blessings bring challenges, including the need for additional staff, so a community outreach director, Rev. Samuel Gibb, was hired to create more relationships in the community and to get the people of the congregation more involved in them. The goal is not to “do for people in need” but to work alongside them to give them skills to “do for themselves.”
Having a session that is able to think outside the box and a congregation that understands what it means to be Presbyterian and always reforming has allowed great things to happen through God’s leading.
Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery’s 85 congregations have 6,769 members.
—Connie Quinn, commissioned ruling elder, administrative team, Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery
Let us join in prayer for:
Rev. David Demarest, administrative team
CRE Connie Quinn, administrative team
Rev. Andrew Woods, administrative team
Rev. Franklin Lewis, stated clerk
Kandy Dunn, bookkeeper
Patty Oleska, office manager
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Let us pray
Lord God, help us to discern your guidance for all that we think, say, and do, and strengthen us to walk in the paths that you have set before us. Amen.