The Presbyterian Foundation’s Church Financial Leadership Coaching Program for pastors helps develop financial fluency
May 8, 2023
In a town known for timber, a Presbyterian congregation continually finds ways to grow in service and stewardship.
First Presbyterian Church in Roseburg, Oregon, has its hands as well as its historic building in direct efforts to meet the community’s most basic needs. Through the Presbyterian Foundation’s coaching program for pastors, the Rev. Vicky Brown developed her knowledge and fluency in supporting this important work.
The work has grown more crucial in recent years. Located in western Oregon about an hour south of Eugene, Roseburg, with a population of about 24,000, has seen its economy rise and fall with the timber industry. It’s also weathered a 2015 college campus shooting that killed eight students and one teacher, and a 2020 wildfire that destroyed a total of 109 homes. Then, of course, there was the Covid pandemic. And the recession.
The 165-member First Presbyterian Church keeps stepping up.
“This is a very faithful congregation that’s been through a lot in the last decade,” Brown said.
Services from the Presbyterian Foundation have helped both the pastor and the congregation meet community needs, Brown said.
First Presbyterian Roseburg was one of several local churches that established the FISH Food Pantry, which it still supports financially and through volunteer service, said longtime church member Mike Fieldman.
Retired now, as executive director of the United Community Action Network (UCAN), Fieldman helped start a food bag program for children who may not have enough food at home over weekends, holidays and breaks.
“This past weekend, FPC assembled about 1,000 bags that were delivered to the school district offices,” he said. The district distributes the bags on Fridays to students who need them. The church does this twice a year — three times if the need is high.
“Hunger seems like it’s a constant,” Brown said. “There’s a high percentage of kids who need food.”
School officials began to notice attendance was up not only on Fridays but on Mondays, too, she said. “Kids felt better and ready to come back to school on Mondays. So, we could actually start to see an impact.”
Assembling the food bags is a great intergenerational project, too. Preschoolers, octogenarians and everyone in between packed the last round.
In another practical partnership, Umpqua Valley Habitat for Humanity has its office and holds board meetings at FPC Roseburg. Brown is a member of Habitat’s Family Selection Committee.
“We love having our office in the church,” said director Robin Hartmann.
Habitat is working with a woman who lost her home in the September 2020 Archie Creek Wildfire. The new house will be a 1,100-square-foot A-frame on the property where her former home stood, overlooking the North Umpqua Wild and Scenic River corridor.
Hartmann said a generous grant from Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and the Presbytery of the Cascades allowed Habitat to begin pre-construction on the project. This funding also supports construction of access ramps, well and pump houses and equipment sheds for other area wildfire survivors.
“Habitat is grateful for this opportunity to partner with members of the church, and to be supported by Presbyterians across the Pacific Northwest and the nation to work alongside our neighbors to rebuild or relocate,” she said.
The church and UCAN also team up for the annual Point in Time homeless count. The federally mandated count, held on a single night in January, determines the level of homelessness in communities and nationwide. As in other years, First Presbyterian Church hosted the 2023 count.
“The church is where many of the people come to fill out the count forms,” Fieldman said. “It also affords them a place where they can receive some services — warm clothing, sleeping bags, a meal, medical services, a haircut.”
Church members prepare baked goods and other food and staff the event. “It also provides just a warm place to be on a cold January day,” he said.
Nancy Crowe for the Presbyterian Foundation
Today’s Focus: Presbyterian Foundation’s Church Financial Leadership Coaching Program
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Gracious God, you call us as partners in Creation. Through your Son, Jesus Christ, fill us with blessings and grow in our lives, that by the Holy Spirit we may go out into the world to do your will. Amen.