First Presbyterian Church

Waverly, Ohio

In the summer of 2019, the Mission/Evangelism Committee of First Presbyterian Church in Waverly, Ohio, suggested to the session that this congregation commit to becoming a Matthew 25 church. The session agreed. But progress has been slow. However, even in this COVID-19 pandemic, we are beginning to move. Posters were put up, reports were given of what other churches are doing and discussions began.

For Lent, the daily devotional booklet of Matthew 25 resources was available for the members. At the first of the annual Lenten soup suppers, time was taken to explain the vision of Matthew 25 to the attendees, and materials for use were shown and explained.

The next Sunday, the adult class took a closer look at those and presented examples from the PC(USA) website of what other churches are doing as they commit to this program. The new interim pastor was informed, and the committee enlisted his support. The groups had looked at the three focus ideas and were hopeful that although the congregation is small and mostly elderly, it was possible to put some effort into at least two of the three.

Then along came the stay-at-home orders and we were told to practice social distancing, etc. Quickly we started worshiping six days a week on Zoom, and several of our committees and the session started Zoom meetings and conference calls. The Mission/Evangelism group, with a new moderator, decided to meet every week. It seemed that there was a need to encourage the vitality of the church before going further with this idea. Each member of the committee has been researching the many groups and organizations in our county that are there to help people who need it.

As a result, a lot has been learned and that will be reported in various ways to the congregation this summer to help them understand the need and the resources available and to get excited about either filling a need not addressed or to cooperate with those already established.

A few actions have been accomplished. We wrote letters to our legislators in Ohio urging them to vote for the issues that Bread for the World was encouraging. We cooperated with another church in preparing lunches for children who are not in school to get daily meals. For Palm Sunday, we had ordered Eco-Palms to help with earth care as well as fair trade for those who grow them. The palms were delivered to the homes before Sunday. A member serves on a local Council of Churches and we are contributing to that group to create a new space for the local food pantry and homeless shelter.

We were considering showing the film “Flint” at the church and inviting the community and the local water department, but that may come later. These activities might be speaking to systemic poverty issues. But we are just beginning. More will follow. This is a first report. We plan to do more.

Photo caption:  First Presbyterian Church, Waverly Ohio