Calling All Stuffed Animals!

SafeHouse

Oftentimes when children enter the Safe House, they come with nothing other than the clothes on their backs. First Presbyterian will be collecting new and gently used stuffed animals on September 8th to help bring comfort to these children during an uncomfortable and sometimes scary time. While we ask that you not bring your donations to the church until Super Start-Up Sunday, please go ahead an begin collecting!

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Update from HOPE

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A few months ago, the Community Foundation of Shreveport-Bossier and the Louisiana Association of Nonprofit Organizations shared an article with local nonprofit leaders that gave some startling statistics on how little faith most Americans place in the real impact nonprofits are making. However, thanks to the generosity of First Presbyterian Church, the HOPE for the Homeless team spent last week with 1600 people from around the country who are passionately seeking to make a once unimaginable impact – ending homelessness in America. We attended the National Alliance to End Homelessness annual conference in Washington, D.C.

The conference had speakers from HUD, the VA, funders and foundations, and agencies around the country who are actually ending homelessness in their communities and regions. There were common themes among all of these presenters: 1. There must be a centralized intake into the local homeless system. 2. Clients must be prioritized by need – placing those with the highest needs into housing first. 3. Changing into a true homeless system, instead of individual great programs, is mandatory.

I am thrilled to report that the homeless providers in Northwest Louisiana have been working together to create a model like this for the past few years. The problem is that change is REALLY hard! Many of the workshops that were held at the conference focused on change, and ultimately they said that agencies that are not committed to the goal of ending homelessness and refuse to change will be left behind. The great news is that most funders, faith communities, and the business community are ready for us to admit that a change is needed – ready for us to admit that what we have been doing has not made a very big impact.

The members of First Presbyterian have supported homeless services for many years, and I am thrilled to report to you that many members of our church are involved in HOPE’s local efforts to rally agencies together to solve this issue. For several years now, Circle 7 has partnered with the youth to bring sack dinners to Hope House once a month. Several PW Circles send generous checks every quarter. Sarah and Lauren have attended many of the HOPE Homeless Coalition Meetings to better understand the “big picture.” Also, the Outreach Ministry recently granted us funding to provide incentives gift cards for our annual 100,000 Homes Survey and paid our conference fees so that we could find real solutions to end homelessness. I could go on and on – like the Pathfinders consistently bringing laundry detergent and coffee to Hope House, or Mary Jane Lowder leaving secret stashes of laundry detergent and coffee in my carport once a month. It would be impossible to give the full picture of the role First Presbyterian’s members are playing in ending homelessness because the depth of your generosity is so great. 

Many of you know about our HOPE Connections Project where many agencies will co-locate to triage and fast track people into housing while also meeting their immediate needs. I am sure it will come as no surprise that many First Pres members are leading this effort either by serving on the HOPE Board of Directors or on the Capital Campaign Committee. I want to express my sincerest and deepest gratitude to all of you for your time, gifts, and talents as we embark on a new adventure and change the homeless system. If you would like to get more involved in our efforts, please let me know. We can end homelessness, and we want you to be a part of it!

Thank you,

Christa Pazzaglia 

HOPE for the Homeless

Youth Mission Trip to Atlanta

Last week, Sammy and I accompanied three of our youth and two guests to Atlanta for a week-long mission trip through YouthWorks, the same company we went through for Louisville in 2008 and New Orleans in 2012. A group from FPC Tampa was also present, and we were able to get to know them throughout the week. The 48 participants divided into five crews, each named after a neighborhood, and our seven all ended up in East Atlanta. Each morning we would wake up, eat breakfast, have devotions, and then head to our mission sites. In the afternoon we would take our showers at the Boys and Girls Club, return home (Martha Brown UMC) for dinner, and then participate in an evening activity; these included getting frozen oranges at The Varsity, visiting the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Site, a worship service at Destiny Metropolitan Worship Church, and a cookout in Brownwood Park. After our evening activities, we would return home again for Club. During Club, we would sing, do “Sweetie Pies” and Yay Gods” where we acknowledged the hard work and presence of both God and our neighbors/friends, and hear a short meditation. The final Club concluded with a foot washing, which is common at all YouthWorks sites. First the leadership team washes the feet of the adult leaders and prays for them, and the adult leaders in turn do the same for their youth. After Club, we would meet as a home group and reflect on our day before heading to bed, but not before a member of the leadership team would read us a bedtime story- examples include Are You My Mother? and one person’s most embarrassing moment. Below are the sites that we were fortunate enough to visit throughout the week. Each comes with a link in case you are interested in learning more.

-Lauren Rogers

FPC Shreveport and FPC Tampa youth on our last day in Atlanta - standing outside of Martha Brown UMC, our home for the week

FPC Shreveport and FPC Tampa youth on our last day in Atlanta – standing outside of Martha Brown UMC, our home for the week

Loaves and Fishes- Each morning, our group went to Loaves and Fishes, a Food Pantry of sorts that operates out of St. John the Wonderworker Orthodox Church. They feed the hungry and homeless breakfast and lunch, Monday-Friday. All of their food is donated, so they have to work with what they get, but that seems to be no problem for Phoebe, the woman who runs the kitchen and who we grew to love and admire as the week went on. We helped prep and serve breakfast every morning, and if we had time, we would then go outside and hang out with some of the people still eating. We would then help Phoebe prepare for lunch before he had to head off for lunch ourselves. I cannot even begin to guess how many eggs I think we cracked throughout the week…Sammy was our egg guru. We also learned how to make coffee, cut vegetables, and serve humbly. http://saintjohnwonderworker.org/loaves.html

Open Hand- Our group volunteered at Project Open Hand on Monday afternoon. Open Hand prepares and delivers 4,500 meals a day to the chronically ill, such as those diagnosed with cancer and HIV/AIDS. While the meals were already prepared, we helped package and organize them, being careful of those with special dietary needs. It was a fast-paced environment, but talking to one of the men who runs the kitchen, you could tell everyone working there truly loves what they are doing. That is why they operate every day of the year except for Christmas. They are currently undergoing a capital campaign to expand their facilities, because while they are serving thousands everyday in Atlanta, thousands remain on their waiting list. http://www.projectopenhand.org/index.asp

Frazer Center- We volunteered with another crew from YouthWorks at the Frazer Center Tuesday afternoon. Frazer is a day center where people with abilities and disabilities can come together and foster growth. The groups who volunteered at Frazer in the mornings worked with children while we in the afternoon worked with adults. Home Depot is currently sponsoring a project at Frazer where they are constructing a courtyard, so we started with that before we moved inside to play games and hang out with our new friends. Some of us played Wii bowling, others danced, and others just kept some of them company while they watched television or looked up music videos. We all left with great experiences and the desire to do something like that again. http://www.frazercenter.org/

Bethlehem Senior Center- Our last two afternoons we volunteered at the Bethlehem Senior Center. Monday through Friday they are open from 10AM-2PM, providing activities for those over 60 who have limited resources. For many of them, this is their only social interaction with the world. It took a while for us to ease in on the first day, but by the second day we got the hang of it. Several of our youth spoke with one man, Reco, who really made a lasting impression on them. As they later said, “That was one of the most meaningful conversations I’ve ever had in my life.” We also played games such as Dominos and Scrabble, and one of us even sat in on a jewelry making class. http://www.wesleycenters.org/programs/bethlehemseniorcenter.html

Kamp Keachi

I am so grateful to the members of First Presbyterian Church who helped drive nine girls from the LightHouse down to Kamp Keachi and back for a week earlier in June. Here is what First Presbyterian facilitated by doing this:

Kids learning about God’s creation.  When they arrive, the girls are terrified of many animals and plants that make up the wild Louisiana ecosystem. By the end they are learning to treat even spiders with calm respect and care.

Adults and kids of different socioeconomic levels being in community.  Camp is community. As volunteers, we get into community with campers and learn to love them as we serve them. Singing along to a bunch of silly songs together also bonds us.  (“O Hail to the Bus Driver!”)

Appropriate risk-taking.  Camp is about getting out of one’s comfort zone, but in the presence of loving adults and encouraging peers. We hope the girls will remember what it feels like to take a good risk when they’re faced with bad risks.

Sincere thanks to First Pres for helping these lovely little girls have a Great Outdoors experience! 

-Rebecca Prosino

Kamp Keachi

PS: Here’s a cute article with some pictures of Kamp on the VOA’s website. http://www.voanorthla.org/lighthouse-girls-explore-camp-keachi/

Update on Seminary Scholarship Recipients

Below is an update on three students graduating from seminary this spring who have been supported by seminary scholarships endowed by members of the congregation through gifts to the church’s Legacy Fund. We send our congratulations and best wishes to them all.

Barrett Abernethy graduated from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary in May. He has accepted a call to pastor the First Presbyterian Church of Livingston, Alabama, where he will be ordained to the ministry of word and sacrament on August 18 during a service of ordination. Barrett writes: Thanks again for your support. It’s the First, Shreveports of the world that make seminary so much more enjoyable for so many of us due to your gracious stewardship.
Abernathy

Hriiyia Kayina graduated with a Master’s degree in Christian Education from Union Presbyterian Theological Seminary on May 25, 2013.  She writes:  I am pleased to inform you that I have done well and that I was awarded with the “Appleby Book Award” from the Seminary. I want to thank the First Presbyterian church family once again for their generous support in helping me and my family.

Kayina

Lukata Mjumbe graduated with his Master’s of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary in May. At graduation Lukata was awarded the Edler Garnet Hawkins Award for Scholastic Excellence for the highest cumulative GPA of all African American seminarians in the graduating class.  Lukata has been accepted into the Princeton Theological Seminary Religion and Society department Master of Theology program for 2013-2014.  In explaining his decision to stay another year at Princeton, he writes: I am looking forward to taking advantage of a range of practical theology courses as well as continued work with Elmwood United Presbyterian Church as I prepare for the work that lies ahead. I believe that I am called to parish ministry, yet I also believe that my call is to work with the church to expand and focus its impact in the public square. I am pursuing the Th.M because I believe that it will provide with a needed additional year to prepare for what will be both a challenging and transformational ministry that requires both “ecclesial” as well as “secular” skills. Again, I thank First Presbyterian Church for your support.

Lukata

School Supplies Drive

Though summer has just officially begun, it is never too early to start thinking about school supplies. Bossier students return to school on August 8, and Caddo students return on August 12. That is less than two months away!

During Vacation Bible School the week of July 22-26, our children will be collecting school supplies to divvy up between Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and Presbyterian Children’s Homes and Services; however, we’d like your help as well.

Jennifer Maness, our local Child and Family Specialist with Presbyterian Children’s Homes and Services, has recently purchased 72 backpacks that she would like to fill with school supplies for local children in need. We will use some of the supplies collected during VBS, but we will definitely need some more if we hope to fill them all.

Below you will find school supplies lists for students Kindergarten – High School. We invite you to participate as you wish, whether that be focusing on just a few types of supplies or purchasing all items for a particular list. If you would like to help, you can drop supplies off in Lauren’s office at the church between now and July 25. Our middle school youth will then stuff the backpacks with supplies on July 26. After the 26th, Jennifer and Lauren will go through and see how close we are to reaching our goal, and then they will let the congregation know if there is anything else the backpacks might need. They plan to distribute the backpacks August 5 and 6. If you have any questions, please contact Lauren Rogers at lrogers@fpcshreveport.com.

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NOTICE: The lists below vary slightly from the lists e-mailed on June 25, 2013. These lists eliminate composition notebooks and include more 3-brad folders with pockets; however, composition notebooks are also appreciated donations.

 

KINDERGARTEN

  • 1 pack washable markers
  • 2 glue sticks
  • 1 bottle of glue
  • 1 pack of pencils
  • 1 pack of 24-count crayons
  • 2 erasers
  • 1 3-brad folder

 

1st – 2nd GRADE

  • 1 pencil box
  • 2 erasers
  • 1 pack of pencils
  • 2 one-subject spiral notebooks
  • 2 glue sticks
  • 1 bottle of glue
  • 1 pair of scissors
  • 2 packs of 24-count crayons
  • 3 folders with pockets and brads

 

3rd – 5th GRADE

  • 1 2” binder
  • 1 pack of dividers
  • 1 pack of pencils
  • 2 one-subject spiral notebooks
  • 2 packs of wide-ruled notebook paper
  • 1 box of colored pencils
  • 2 glue sticks
  • 1 pack of washable markers
  • 2 highlighters
  • 5 folders with pockets and brads
  • 1 pencil sharpener
  • 1 pencil bag
  • 1 pair of scissors

 

MIDDLE SCHOOL

  • 1 2” binder
  • 1 pack of dividers
  • 1 pack of pencils
  • 2 packs of black/blue pens
  • 1 pack of washable markers
  • 2 sharpies
  • 2 erasers
  • 2 packs of wide-ruled notebook paper
  • 1 one-subject spiral notebook
  • 1 three-subject spiral notebook
  • 3 folders with pockets and brads
  • 1 box of colored pencils
  • 2 glue sticks
  • 2 highlighters
  • 1 pencil sharpener
  • 1 pair of scissors
  • 1 pencil bag

 

HIGH SCHOOL

  • 2 2” binders
  • 2 packs of dividers
  • 1 pack of pencils
  • 2 packs of black/blue pens
  • 1 pack of washable markers
  • 2 packs of wide-ruled notebook paper
  • 4 one-subject spiral notebooks
  • 4 folders with pockets and brads
  • 1 box of colored pencils
  • 2 highlighters
  • 2 glue sticks
  • 2 erasers
  • 2 sharpies
  • 1 pair of scissors
  • 1 pencil bag

4th of July Cookout

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HIGHLAND BLESSING DINNER 4TH OF JULY COOKOUT

Volunteers from all area churches are needed to help our neighbors in Highland celebrate Independence Day. Noel Methodist volunteers will grill, and FPC will help by providing servers and hosts. Wear your red, white, and blue, and come join us before you and the family head out for the fireworks!

July 4th from 5-7pm at the Highland Center

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Prayer for Bangladesh June 10, 2013

Dhaka, Bangladesh

Monday, 10 June 2013

Dear Friends,

We returned to Bangladesh last week and are today beginning again to write a weekly Prayer for Bangladesh.  …..   Attached is a prayer for the week of 10 June 2013.  Thank you for joining us in this ministry.  We gained much strength seeing many of you during our travels in the U.S.

Yours,

Les and Cindy

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O God of all consolation, comfort the family of Saddam, an eighteen-year-old Bangladeshi garment worker, who, after suffering for ten months with leukemia, died on April 29th.  Console his mother as she prepares to honor him this week with a special 40th-day ceremony.  Strengthen his 15-year-old brother, also in the garment industry, who has now become the family’s primary wage earner. Bestow your grace upon his 11-year-old sister, who sews neck seams on shirts for export.  And nurture his youngest sister, now in second grade.  Lord, pour your consoling love upon this family grieving in the midst of their struggle to survive, and welcome Saddam into the comfort of your eternal embrace.  We pray in the name of the One who gave his life so that all may live.  Amen.

Drs. Leslie and Cynthia Morgan
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Mission Co-Workers / Bangladesh
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A note from Anna Gnann – one of the pilgrims from First Presbyterian Church, who visited Bangladesh in July 2010.

This prayer is about the eldest son of the lady who runs the little tea shop, Rajia. We spent a lot of time with this family. I spoke about her in my ‘sermon.’ Saddam took us to the garmet factory and showed us what he was learning and doing.  Saddam is in the center of the picture, right next to Chris Webb.

Hunger Study

FoodBank

The Hunger Study is conducted every four years and is comprised of two separate surveys. The first is a survey of agencies that receive food from Feeding America Food Banks. The second is a survey of clients who obtain food from these agencies. The data from both surveys will be analyzed and incorporated into reports that will inform policymakers and the public about the magnitude and scope of the hunger problem both nationally and locally. The Food Bank needs volunteers to go to their agencies on selected days and times to monitor client interviews. This year the Food Bank has been given six Microsoft Tablets that the clients will take the survey on. This data collection process will begin in May and last until August. If you want to participate or learn more about this opportunity, please contact Kendall Smith at execadmin@foodbanknla.org or FPC Outreach Coordinator Lauren Rogers at lrogers@fpcshreveport.com.

The Wild West

Celebrity Waiter

Evergreen Life Services’ 6th annual Celebrity Waiter Dinner will take place at East Ridge Country Club on Thursday, May 9th. The theme for this year’s event is “The Wild West” with some of Shreveport’s finest serving tables while dressed up to fulfill the roles of an epic Western. The night begins with a silent auction at 6pm followed by dinner. The program and live auction will begin at 7pm. Local group The Mix Band will serve as the evening’s entertainment. If you are interested in attending, individual tickets are $100 while sponsoring a table is $1,200. To reserve your seat, contact Debbie Orand, Director of Development, at 318-949-5524 or debbie.orand@evergreenls.org. The funds raised will go towards the overall mission of the Evergreen organization and help Evergreen to continue to build better lives!

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