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Growing Congregation Finds Purpose in Helping Others

Volunteers from Eventide Community Church joined Presbyterian Disaster Assistance volunteers in 2015 to repair homes damaged by Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey. (Photo by Jeanie Shaw)

Volunteers from Eventide Community Church joined Presbyterian Disaster Assistance volunteers in 2015 to repair homes damaged by Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey. (Photo by Jeanie Shaw)

August 11, 2016

A year and a half ago, 10 people gathered in Jeanie Shaw’s living room in Sacramento, California, to worship. Before long, they moved to her backyard. This past Easter, the growing group—more than 100 people—gathered to celebrate the resurrection of Christ and three adult baptisms.

Shaw is the pastor of Eventide Community Church, one of the PC(USA)’s 1001 New Worshiping Communities. She also serves as an active member of the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance National Response Team and is often called upon to travel to parts of the country recovering from disaster. It is that passion for disaster assistance that has driven members of her congregation to roll up their sleeves and immediately go to work helping people in times of trouble.

“I know that young people in our world today have a spirit of generosity that is unmeasurable. They don’t want to just give to a mission; they want to participate in that mission,” she said. “They want to swing a hammer and be there to see people face-to-face. When they have that kind of opportunity to serve, they want to be a part of that community.”

Eventide members gather at round tables on Sunday night in a fellowship hall and share a community meal following worship. “Our worship is very invitational; children and parents read a psalm together. Scripture and prayers are all done by members of the community. We are all a part of the worship experience,” she said.

Shaw says the Eventide Community has a one-word mission statement—“mission”—and its members are committed to sending people out into neighborhoods, the nation, and the world to work in Presbyterian-connected mission projects.

“We made five mission trips in 2015 and have seven planned for this year,” Shaw said. “We are renovating a multicultural house in downtown Sacramento and partnering with a Presbyterian church in Alaska as well as a school and village in Nicaragua.”

Shaw says her congregation continues to draw young people looking for a place to serve.

“Most are young adults who have grown up in homes with no religious affiliation and no Bibles,” she said. “They were invited by their friends who were invited by friends who had been invited to go on one of our mission trips. And it just keeps growing.”

Shaw says the relationships the members develop are shared when they return home.

“One of the most powerful testimonies we encountered was during (Hurricane) Sandy relief efforts. A woman who had been out of her home for four years said her 12-year-old daughter didn’t believe in God anymore because God wouldn’t do this to every person they know,” Shaw said. “The next day the woman came to our workers and said her daughter is a believer again because people would not come all the way from California if they didn’t believe. These are the kind of stories that make faith real.”

Rick Jones, Communications Strategist, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Today’s Focus:  Presbytery of Sacramento

Let us join in prayer for:

Presbytery Staff:

Rev. Nancy Clegg, Stated Clerk
Shelley Mitchell, Office Manager
Earl Lavagnino, Accountant
Karen Sturdevant, Resource Center

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Daniel Braden, PPC
Gregg Brekke, PMA

Let us pray

Lord God, remind us that the tables we gather around are not ours, but yours. Give us your eyes to see beyond borders, languages, and denominations, until we see all, shoulder to shoulder, worshiping and serving to your glory. Amen.

Daily Lectionary

Morning Psalms 97; 147:12-20
First Reading Judges 14:1-19
Second Reading Acts 6:15-7:16
Gospel Reading John 4:27-42
Evening Psalms 16; 62

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