The Deacons of First Presbyterian are involved in many areas of ministry, both in the church and in the community.
Non-perishable foods are collected and donated to the Food Pantry of the United Churches of Lycoming County (http://uclc.org/content/united-churches-center-city-food-pantry). The types of food change on a monthly basis. In January and February we participate in SOUPer Bowl of Caring and these items are also donated to the Food Pantry. In 2016 we raised 141 food items. The united national effort was 8,598,505 in cash and food items.
We collect eyeglasses, sunglasses, and cases which are then donated to the local Lions Club and distributed worldwide. Since beginning this ministry a little over a year ago, we have collected over 100 pieces of eyewear.
In order to keep in touch with shut-ins, members who are ill, those having birthdays, etc., we collect greeting cards. One of our deacons then has a supply from which they can draw to send cards.
Love Letters is another way we keep in touch with those who are shut-in or on our prayer list. Most every Sunday, a different person is selected to receive the Love Letter. During the Coffee and Fellowship hour, members and attendees take a moment to offer their well wishes to the person receiving the Love Letter.
We have an ongoing collection of bed linens and personal hygiene items to donate to Shepherd of the Streets (http://www.uclc.org/content/shepherd-streets).
In December and early January, we display a Mitten Tree. Members are asked to consider placing mittens, gloves, scarves, and hats on the tree. These are then given to Sojourner Truth Ministries and Family Promise who distribute them to area children in need. In early 2016 we collected 67 items.
Chancel flowers is another of our ministries. As our members choose a Sunday to provide flowers, we keep an ongoing schedule so there are always two beautiful, fresh flower arrangements in the Chancel area. These are given in memory or in honor of friends or family. After the service, the flowers are given to a local nursing home or a shut-in.
Our children gather on the third Sunday of the month during the worship service, September through May, to hear a children’s sermon given by one of the women of our church. This is called Time With Young Disciples.
We prepare communion elements for those Sundays when Holy Communion is observed.
Taking care of the world God has entrusted to us is important, so we encourage our members to recycle their bulletins each Sunday. Our office staff also is very diligent with recycling.
On Fathers’ Day, we sponsor Blanket Sunday to help Church World Services (http://cwsglobal.org/) by asking for a donation of $5. A blanket is the basic component of every disaster response! The causes are many – war, disaster, civil strife. The results are tragically the same – people moving, running. With them are only the few possessions they wear or carry. For many, one blanket serves as a shelter, a roof between a family and bad weather. It is privacy in a crowded camp, and a tote in which to gather a few salvaged belongings. Five dollars allows CWS to purchase wool-blend blankets in bulk from manufacturers. Larger donation amounts benefit in many other ways as described in our bulletin inserts. We can help insure that when disaster strikes, relief items are available through Church World Service.
During early and mid November, in conjunction with Samaritan’s Purse (http://www.samaritanspurse.org/what-we-do/operation-christmas-child/), we participate in Operation Christmas Child and have the opportunity to pack shoeboxes for children. We are delighted to be a small part of this ministry with our 2015 collection of 28 shoeboxes. In 2015, over 11,213,000 shoeboxes were collected by Samaritan’s Purse and distributed worldwide.