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When Phyllis Sanders saw an article in South Carolina’s newspaper, The State, titled Losing Faith, she considered it a godsend.
Within a week, she hosted her first workshop as Trinity Presbytery’s new Vital Congregations coordinator. The article about the decline of churches gave her what she needed to help congregations better understand why the presbytery is participating in a two-year Vital Congregations Revitalization Initiative pilot program. Sponsored by the Presbyterian Mission Agency, the initiative is designed to help churches live more fully into faithful discipleship to Jesus Christ.
Twenty-seven years of Saturdays, approximately 1,400 consecutive weekends of serving the “best meal in town,” is a pretty good track record of commitment. That’s how long Third Presbyterian Church in Rochester, New York, has been running its dining room ministry, a hot meal program that started in 1991 and serves approximately 80 people each week. But that’s not enough for this 1,200-member congregation in north central New York. Their emergency food program has been similarly active for more than 20 years, and another hunger initiative, the East Avenue Grocery Run, a mere child at 9 years old, might be the most impactful program of all three.
By the time Newark (N.J.) Presbytery was invited to participate in a two-year Vital Congregations Revitalization Initiative pilot program, it had already been placed under an administrative commission in the Synod of the Northeast.
Nearly 8,000 miles separate congregations in Santa Barbara, California, and Chiang Mai, Thailand. Yet nothing can separate the growing bond they have shared as sister churches in mission since 2013.
Mission Presbytery — 134 congregations in the southern fifth of Texas — has a lot in common with your presbytery. We’ve had some congregations merge as a way to seek survival, and others close if no other options seemed available. Also like you, we’ve lost some congregations to other denominations. We’re convinced, however, that God’s presence among us is not lessened. We believe that God still has plenty to do among the saints in South Texas. So we as a presbytery are choosing instead to “make lemonade out of our lemons” — or in more theological terms, to practice resurrection.
When Phyllis Sanders saw a recent article in South Carolina’s newspaper, The State, titled Losing Faith, she considered it a godsend.
Is your church interested in becoming more involved as stewards of God’s earth? Bulletin insert gives information about getting started.
In response to the prevalence of hunger, local congregations are making an impact on hunger in their communities by going beyond traditional food pantries and community meals. They are now establishing things like “blessing boxes” on church property and offering nutrition classes, often by partnering with other organizations.
Hunger is at the heart of being human. People hunger for food, for love, for belonging and for Christ himself. Feeding the hunger of humanity is why the church exists. Presbyterian churches around the country are working to creatively nourish and sustain those who struggle with food insecurity, malnourishment and poverty.
Peace camp in New Jersey, sponsored by Christian, Jewish and Muslim congregations, teaches children how to build peaceful communities.