The Mission Council coordinates many of the local, national, and international mission outreach programs of the congregation. In addition, mission outreach is supported by every council and many small groups within the congregation. Examples are the more than 1,000 people served at the annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner, coordinated by Bob Cleaver and Bill Stewart with more than 400 volunteers; the third annual Men on a Mission cooking event that raised over $12,000 for WATTS; the WATTS week supported countless donors of food, clothing, toiletries, and cash and approximately 100 volunteers, including groups both inside and outside the church; and the Heifer International “Ark Angel” project that raised $7,536. Our mission focus is a testimony of the work that God is doing through all of us – serving Christ and neighbor in the heart of Winchester and beyond.
Community Outreach The following organizations receive regular financial support from our operating budget:
CCAP (Congregational Community Action Project) -http://www.ccapwinc.org/
Free Medical Clinic – http://www.fmcwinchester.org/
Fremont Street Nursery – http://www.fremontstreetnursery.com/
Jubilee Kitchen (a ministry of the congregation)
Laurel Center – http://www.thelaurelcenter.org/
Boys and Girls Club – http://www.bgcnsv.com/
Winchester Day Nursery – http://winchesterdaypreschool.org/
Literacy Volunteers of America – http://www.lvwa.org/
Faith in Action – http://www.faithinaction-nsv.org/
Winchester Union Rescue Mission – http://winrescue.org/
Massanetta Springs – http://www.massanettasprings.org/
Highland Food Pantry. Ministry Council supported the food pantry at Highland Memorial Presbyterian Church in the north end of Winchester with both donations and volunteers. First Church also provided emergency monetary assistance through grants from the Needy Family Fund. The Highland Food Pantry serves approximately 300 needy families a month. It is open on Tuesdays 9:00 – 11:30 am and 6:30-8pm. A number of First Church members are regular volunteers at the Food Pantry. Our contact is Carolyn Thalman.
Jubilee Kitchen, led by Tara and Chris Holmes, continues to provide a nourishing meal every Saturday from 11:30am to 1:00pm. Attendance has been averaging 90 to 100 persons. Jubilee Kitchen provides not only food, but opportunities for friends to socialize. We set 12 round tables of 8 so that we can seat 96. We have had to set additional tables when we have an overflow crowd about eight times this past year.
The first Saturday of each month is set aside for First Church to provide volunteer servers to set the tables, serve drinks and food, and then help clean up after.
WATTS (Winchester Area Temporary Thermal Shelter) finished its successful eighth season in 2017. WATTS annually provides overnight shelter for up to 35 adult men and women, breakfast and dinner from November through March. Twenty local congregations host the shelter for one week at a time. Like any other mission or outreach program, volunteers make this ministry possible at our facility. Nearly 200 volunteers check in guests, provide meals and snacks, stay overnight, set up and tear down the cots and other necessary equipment, visit with guests and provide evening activities.
Faith in Action, led by Bill Lawrence included a team of several volunteer drivers from our church who drive clients to and from medical appointments and treatments. This is a much-needed service to those, not only of our church family, but many others who are in need of transportation to help maintain their independence. We are always looking for new members of our team willing to help others. Please contact Bill Lawrence.
Stephen Ministry, led by Patti Keeton and Jan Smith. Stephen Ministry continues to be a vital and thriving ministry at First Presbyterian. Through this one-to-one, confidential ministry, Stephen Ministers are not only serving our congregation, but also the community. When a Stephen Minister is assigned to a care receiver, he/she commits to meeting with the care receiver at least once weekly and attends up to two monthly supervision sessions that are also attended by all active Stephen Ministers and the Stephen Leaders.
Pastoral Care is made up of small teams with specific roles including church flower delivery, spiritual care phone calls, and note card writing.
Guardian Angels, led by Courtney Warner, provides meals for families in need in the congregation who are experiencing such things as a medical issue, illness, death in the family, or birth of a baby.
Cancer Support Group is led by Mark Johnson. Cancer has affected many individuals including members of our church family at First Presbyterian Church over the years. The Cancer Support Group was founded in 2010 with the mission to provide spiritual and emotional encouragement for individuals and their families facing the challenges of cancer. The group meets on the third Wednesday of each month at 7:00 p.m. in the Graham Room.
Scouts: First Church sponsors the following Scouting organizations:
- Cub Scout Pack 2
- Boy Scout Troop 2
- Venture Crew 2
- Girl Scout Troop 40183
Blood Drive Team First Church held blood drives in February, August and December and is committed to holding three blood drives a year!
Old Stone Old Stone Church is the home of the Fuente De Luz congregation during the year, as well as many weddings, which restored some mission viability to this historic facility.
Disaster Response Team, led by Dave Thalman, coordinated the eighth annual Mountain Valley Mission Community work trip to the Gulf Coast that helped rebuild a house in New Orleans owned by a woman who was a victim of contractor fraud. Trip participants raised and donated more than $2,000 for expenses and materials.
Mountain Valley Mission Community This group of Presbyterian churches in the northern Shenandoah Valley conducted elder training, supported Camp Paddy Run, coordinated a disaster response work trip to New Orleans, and completed building a shower trailer for deployment with Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and possibly for WATTS.
Peacemaking Team is led by Rossi Selzer and Carolyn Thalman. In March 2013 First Church sponsored the keynote speaker at the community wide conference on poverty. The conference was held by the Northern Shenandoah Valley Alliance for Children and Families and helped equip those in our community who work on the front lines fighting poverty in our community. The conference was attended by more than 300 people. The sponsorship was funded by donations from the annual Peacemaking Special Offering. The team also worked with clergy to hold a Sunday School series during Lent on “The Christian Response to Gun Violence.”
U. S. & World Mission Team, led by Susan Kagey, Carolyn Thalman, and Dave Thalman, coordinated support for our three PC(USA) mission co-workers. Karla Koll worked with the Center for Evangelical Pastoral Studies in Central America (CEDEPCA) in Guatemala. CEDEPCA is a training center that provides safe, accepting, creative spaces where women and men from many different Christian traditions can deepen their faith while they strengthen their ability to confront the key issues facing their communities. Toward the end of 2013, she moved from Guatemala to Costa Rica. Drs. Les and Cindy Morgan serve as advisors for the Church of Bangladesh health ministries and at Christian Mission Hospital in Rajshahi. The Morgans visited us in February 2013 and presented a Sunday School class on their work in Bangladesh as well as greetings at all the services. Amanda Craft is working with the women leaders of the Presbyterian Church in Guatemala. The team also supported a mission worker from our Presbytery who is working with Presbyterian Frontier Fellowship in Central Asia, as well as the PFF staff. This missionary’s information must remain confidential due to the sensitivity of the work location.
First Church also supported the ministry of Beth Thompson who volunteered to serve with the PC(USA) Young Adult Volunteer program. She worked in Belfast, Northern Ireland for one year leading children and youth programs.
Ethiopian Partnership Team, led by John Fisher, engaged in the following activities in 2013:
- Kes Yonas, from the central office of the EECMY and former President of Illubabor Bethel Synod (IBS), visited the Presbytery in June and met with a group of First Church staff.
- Rich and Marilyn Hansen, PCUSA Mission Co-Workers at the Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology, gave a presentation about their work in Addis Ababa at Westminster-Canterbury on June 15; presentation was sponsored by First Church and Elizabeth Lewis, chaplain at Westminster-Canterbury.
- Kes Tariku Tolessa, President of the Illubabor Bethel Synod (IBS), and Ato Tilahun, an Elder of the Ketta Congregation, visited in November. Kes Tariku brought greetings and presented a minute for mission to all four of our services on November 10, and led a Sunday School session.
Guatemala Mission Team, led by Carolyn Thalman, coordinated and led our fifth successful trip to Guatemala in June, in conjunction with a team from Fairfax Presbyterian Church. The team worked at the health post in Pachaj where we have established a relationship with the community. They were able to deliver nearly $40,000 worth of medicines that were purchased at a huge discount from Crosslink International thanks to the congregation’s generosity. We continue to build relationships that were begun with our first trip in 2008. Plans are underway for some of our Guatemalan friends to visit us in 2014.
Presbyterian Coffee Project Team, led by Carolyn Thalman and Rossi Selzer, is part of the Enough for Everyone program of the Presbyterian Church (USA). By using fair trade coffee, Presbyterians help guarantee that farmers will earn the income they need to feed their families, educate their children and improve their communities. Fair trade is a simple solution that means the difference—quite literally—between surviving and not surviving for small-scale coffee farmers. Fair Trade coffee, chocolate and other products continue to be sold every Sunday in the Gathering Space. The purchase of Fair Trade products contributes to the Presbyterian Hunger Project and gives small farmers an opportunity to have fair payment for their products. Fair Trade cooperatives make it possible for children to go to school, have medical care and hope for a future. The small profit that is earned from the sale of Fair Trade products at First Presbyterian Church is used at the discretion of the Ministry Council to fund international mission projects. In 2013, that contribution was sent to the Presbyterian Hunger Program.
Presbyterian-Related Missions & Operations. More than half of Ministry Council’s annual budget goes to the administration and operation of Shenandoah Presbytery, Synod of the Mid-Atlantic, and Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly. This year was the third that we participated in all four special offerings of our denomination: One Great Hour of Sharing on Palm Sunday, Pentecost Offering in May, Peacemaking Offering in October, and Christmas Joy Offering in December. We also supported Massanetta Springs Conference Center in Harrisonburg, Virginia.