Partnership between suburban church and urban ministry works to educate, eradicate poverty
January 27, 2020
First Presbyterian Church in Maumee, Ohio, a suburb of Toledo, has partnered with an urban Toledo mission, Mosaic Ministries, that’s working to eradicate poverty and lack of education in south Toledo.
The Presbyterian Foundation’s online giving program has been a key part of bolstering First Presbyterian’s commitment to the community.
“We’d been using online giving for several years, mostly because our young people were asking for it,” said the Rev. Clint Tolbert, senior pastor at First Presbyterian. Tolbert added that the church decided to add a mission component to its online giving program to support the Mosaic project.
“It was especially effective because it worked hand in hand with information about the commitment to the mission which was publicized on social media,” he said.
Mosaic Ministries plans to open a kindergarten through sixth-grade school geared toward low-income families. It has partnered with SunBridge, a public charter school in Toledo, and hopes to open the school by 2022.
The ministry purchased a building several years ago that it plans to now use for its offices and the school.
The cost to get the building in working order to open the school is around $6 million.
First Presbyterian Church committed to providing $300,000 with a two-for-one match through its endowment, meaning members had to donate $100,000 for the $300,000 to become a reality. Many members and friends used the Foundation’s online giving program to contribute.
The relationship between Mosaic Ministries and the church started as many do. Church members learned of a need and answered it. They volunteered to serve meals. They donated clothing. They helped renovate housing.
“They’re really involved with us,” said David Kaiser, pastor of Mosaic Ministries. Kaiser built a relationship with First through his friendship with Tolbert.
Eventually, Kaiser spoke to a men’s breakfast group and a congregational meeting and shared some stories about Mosaic Ministries. About a dozen churches support Mosaic — although none like First Presbyterian, said Kaiser.
“When you hear the stories and see the conditions, you can’t help but feel the urge to assist in some manner,” said First Presbyterian member Mary Siefke.
While Kaiser and his team know that food, clothing and housing are vital in caring for those in need, it’s not enough. “Evidence-based programs are what drive us,” Kaiser explained, adding that Mosaic Ministries patterns itself after the Harlem Children’s Zone in New York City’s upper Manhattan.
Harlem Children’s Zone is a nonprofit that’s committed to ending generational poverty in Harlem. The program focuses on the social and educational development of children with the ultimate goal of giving children the support they need to get through college and become self-sustaining adults.
“In order to achieve long-term success, children need consistent, comprehensive support,” Harlem Children’s Zone website states. “Our pipeline begins at birth and helps kids every step of the way until college graduation through exceptional education, social services, family support, health and community-building programs.”
Mosaic Ministries has a similar scope, but with a faith component. “We desire to be a place where people are ministered to spiritually,” its website states. “We don’t want religious people but rather men and women in a lifelong love relationship with Jesus Christ.”
Baby University, a nonprofit program for children up to age 3, started in 2010 at Mosaic. It strives to teach parents good life skills, parenting strategies and good nutrition. First Presbyterian’s Siefke is the treasurer at Baby U.
First Presbyterian members use the church bus to pick up parents and take them to Baby U.
“When the parents first show up at Baby U, most of them have never read to their children and are highly likely to be abusive. By the end of their session, testing shows that they have started to read to their children daily and are more likely to use constructive discipline techniques,” Siefke said.
While the partnership has helped Mosaic Ministries, it has also benefited First Presbyterian Church, said Siefke.
“Raising money and assisting with the ministry has brought our congregation closer as we have prayed, given, worked and celebrated together for a common cause,” she said. “It has allowed us to live into our Christian values and the mission of our church, which is ‘Love First.’”
Sally Scherer, Elder of Second Presbyterian Church in Lexington, Kentucky
Morning Psalms 57; 145
First Reading Genesis (14:1-7) 8-24
Second Reading Hebrews 8:1-13
Gospel Reading John 4:43-54
Evening Psalms 85; 47
Today’s Focus: Presbyterian Foundation’s Online Giving Program
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Cynthia Rubin, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Yvette Russell-Minor, Board of Pensions
Let us pray:
God of singing stars and dancing mountains, your majesty and power astound us. Your steadfast love humbles us. We thankfully stand in your presence. Pure joy! Amen.