‘The sweet spot of our work’

New PMA initiative encourages Presbyterians to ‘live missionally’ in service to their communities

June 18, 2014

Inspiring the Assembly with a vision cast by the Presbyterian Mission Agency for the whole church, PMA Deputy Executive for Mission Roger Dermody today summarized the objectives of a new churchwide initiative, Living Missionally, which was unanimously adopted as part of the consent agenda of the 221st General Assembly (2014).

“The Living Missionally initiative seeks to inspire Presbyterian congregations to reach out to their communities through intentional acts of service in Christ’s name, which many of our churches are already naturally doing,” Dermody said. “It’s in our DNA.”

Dermody said that because Presbyterians have sought to be mission-centered from their inception and have a strong, unwavering belief that there is no other way to truly be the church, “this initiative calls us to reaffirm our historic commitment and reclaim our identity to be ministers to the immediate needs and hurts of the people in our neighborhoods and communities.”

The churchwide call to go beyond the steeple and live missionally was reinforced through several examples of “the good work already going on”:

  • A young Presbyterian in Kentucky, who—struck by the scene in the movie “The Blind Side,” where the central character confesses to never having had a bed—began a campaign to give beds to children who didn’t have one;
  • A Presbyterian church in New Brunswick, N.J., which partners with other churches in the community to volunteer thousands of hours annually, blessing the neighborhood with acts of service;
  • St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Tucson, Ariz., which decided to “worship” on every fifth Sunday by moving outside the walls of their church to serve their community together.

Because many Presbyterians do not generally associate such community service with their Christian identity, Dermody emphasized that this initiative would help the church to see normal, day-to-day interactions as part of following Jesus.

Dermody noted that another compelling aspect about the new initiative is that it is “not calling us to add a bunch of new programs or hire a bunch of staff or take on any new financial implications.”

“This is the sweet spot of our work, core to our mission statement, how we serve the church,” he said.

Moving forward, the PMA will be working together with mid councils and congregations to transform neighborhoods and communities by living missionally and to develop plans and metrics to measure results in deeper engagement in years to come.

“Recognizing and reclaiming that the purpose of our being gathered is to be sent,” Dermody asked the Assembly, “What if the PC(USA) were known for this? What if were known for that even more fully?”

  1. A Google search of Calvary Presbyterian Staten Island Friedl will find that Calvary is still active assisting victims of Hurricane Sandy, assuring them that among we Presbyterians they certainly are not forgotten!

    by Bruce Edward Hodgman

    July 26, 2014

  2. Thank you Mike, Cleda and Jessica, for sharing your stories at FPCP, FPCG and FPCFH. A big part of this effort will be simply lifting up the great work that churches like yours are already doing. Please keep the stories and examples coming!

    by Roger Dermody

    July 23, 2014

  3. For past four years, 1stPC Phoenix, Oregon has opened our doors to the community for a community dinner (served on 2nd and 4th Thursdays each month. Starting with 40 some diners (most of whom were volunteers) the Phoenix Community Kitchen has grown to serving in excess of 275 for each dinner. The Phoenix Food Pantry is open twice a week serving 70-80 individuals each week. (This translates to over 500 family units being served.) We've recently opened a cloths closet (The Walk-in Closet) that has been a senior project for a recent HS Graduate. She'll continue shaping this project as part if her Girl Scout Gold Award. These together with the summer youth program being done in partnership with Phoenx Counseling center, 1st Phoenix is incarnating the love of Christ into this small struggling community.

    by Mike Foster

    June 23, 2014

  4. The sign at the entrance to First Presbyterian Church, Gainesville, Georgia, says,"Welcome." The other side, seen as we leave the church says, "You are now entering the mission field." We take that seriously.

    by Cleda Locey

    June 19, 2014

  5. Excellent! .At the first Presbyterian Church of Forest Hills we embrace this by our Share the Care program which provides assistance to persons in need , by way of phone calls, transportation to appointments etc. A work in progress to be expanded. Let us continue to praise God, by service to community. Amen

    by Jessica Odle Baril

    June 19, 2014

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