During the pandemic, our Congregational Life Committee served “Ramah Apart, but Together” meals. Coming together to share a meal is a big part of what our church does and how we connect with each other. We often have covered dish dinners, birthday celebrations, chili cookoffs, and other meals after our Sunday services and for special occasions throughout the year.
Last year we were at a loss about what we could do to remain connected during the pandemic, when gathering together was not an option. A member thought of doing take-home meals for everyone. Our thought was to have everyone sharing the same meal and reading the same Bible verses for dinner that evening, which would give us a sense of community and family even though we were at our own homes instead of together at the church.
Once a month, and each week in September, we put together a home-cooked meal that members could stop by to pick up. We included a devotional with Bible verses and some Bible trivia cards. Everyone has really enjoyed the meals and we have continued to do a few this year. Our latest was for our Homecoming meal on September 26th, when members stopped by after the Sunday morning service to pick up their meal.
During the weekend of September 18th and 19th, Philadelphia Presbyterian Church (PPC), Mint Hill, NC, celebrated the congregation’s 250th anniversary. The celebration kicked off on Saturday with special activities that included brick making, turning ice cream, old fashioned buggy rides, voices from the past, Kingdom kids craft, an annex bazaar sale, a Gospel jubilee, and the Philadelphia Praise team.
The weekend culminated on Sunday with a stirring Homecoming and Kirkin’ O’ The Tartans worship service that included beautifully rendered songs by the choir and musicians along with a powerful sermon by Rev. Mary Jane Kerr Cornell titled ‘Standing Stone and Running Rivers’ in which Rev. Cornell gave thanks for the past while pointing Philadelphia towards a hopeful future. After worship, attendees enjoyed lunch on the grounds and engaged in joyful fellowship with one another. The weather was perfect! A wonderful time of worship and celebration was had by all. To God be the glory!
HAITI FLOOD BUCKET DRIVE
A BIG THANK YOU!
On August 14, 2021, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake devastated the south-western coast of Haiti causing immense damage across the country’s southern peninsula. In response, the Presbytery of Charlotte partnered with the Haitian Heritage and Friends of Haiti (HHFOH) local non-profit organization to assemble flood/clean up buckets for the people of Haiti to use in their clean up efforts. Thanks to the generous churches of our Presbytery, 81 buckets were assembled.
Mr. Thomas Hall of HHFOH collected the buckets from the Presbytery office on Saturday, August 28th. From Charlotte, the buckets will be driven to Miami, with the help of a co-driver supplied by the Presbytery’s Disaster Response Team, where they will be loaded onto a boat and taken to Haiti. THANK YOU, Presbytery of Charlotte, for your participation in this vital mission partnership. Your generosity and willingness to help are greatly appreciated.
NEW LIFE’ COMMUNITY GARDEN PROJECT BY CORNELIUS AND HOPEWELL CHURCHES
I was walking with my children on our church grounds to our playground. As we approached, I couldn’t help but notice the overgrown weeds and play equipment in disrepair. The playset, installed thanks to generous donations by congregants many years prior, needed new life.
After reaching out to congregations in the area we were able to find a church in need of new play equipment and donated the set. I couldn’t ignore the nudge that I felt that this large space in full sunshine would be a perfect place for a community garden that would minister to the needs of our neighbors. After talking with Jim Bramlett of Cornelius Presbyterian, we agreed to come together to turn the space into a community garden and apply for the Presbytery’s Shared Mission Grant.
This grant has allowed us to not only begin feeding our neighbors, but has also opened the door to teaching children and adults alike how to grow their own food. The children of La Escuelita San Marcos, a bilingual preschool housed on the grounds of Hopewell, have been able to be an active part of our garden by planting plants, watering, and watching our new plants grow. The first day we planted our vegetables for the summer, we invited the children outside to do the planting. One boy in particular was extremely excited about the opportunity and eagerly planted every plant I gave him. Once we had finished, he pulled on my sleeve saying, “More, more!” . I laughed and gave him more to do. In speaking with the Executive Director of La Escuelita, Jama Fleming afterward, she expressed her astonishment. That particular child was non-verbal. Time in the garden brought joy, excitement, and words to this child. Though our garden is in its beginning stages, it has already become a blessing at Hopewell and within our community.
As we move forward into summer, we will be donating our food to those who need it and will continue to involve the youth of Hopewell and the children of La Escuelita San Marcos in the process. We also have a butterfly garden on the grounds from which we will teach about transformation and new life, not just as a
caterpillar turns into a butterfly, but also as it happens in our hearts when we encounter Jesus Christ.
By Sarah Scoggin, Director of Christian Education, Hopewell Presbyterian Church
STUDENT CENTER AT DAVIDSON COLLEGE CHURCH
The Student Center at DCPC has been a welcoming space for Davidson College students for many years. Students can use their ID cards to get into the room 24-hours a day and 7-days a week, and are welcomed by snacks and drinks, provided by the campus ministry budget and at no cost to students. Pandemic-related restrictions limited the availability of the room, but this spring we got permission from the college to restore 24/7 access for students. Some of the students who gather here consider DCPC a part of their life at Davidson, and for others, this may be the only interaction they have with a church in their four years at college—an extension of no-strings-attached hospitality and grace.
THE GROVE REPURPOSES TEN CENTS-A-MEAL GRANT FUNDS
TO AID OTHER NEIGHBORHOOD FOOD SUPPORT PROGRAMS
Last month “The Grove” Presbyterian Church gave $500 of unused 2020 Ten Cents-a-Meal grant funds from the Grove Community Meal ministry to the Robinson Presbyterian Church Bread Basket Food Pantry. They used the gift to obtain 2,500 lbs. of food from Second Harvest Food Bank.
This donation was inspired by the Presbytery of Charlotte’s Ten-Cents-a-Meal ministry team letter sent to all agencies receiving TCaM grants, to reach folks that were not using their grant money due to Covid-19 this year, and to ask them to repurpose those funds to other food support programs in their neighborhoods.
So far, unused 2020 Ten-Cents-a-Meal funds from the currently dormant Grove Community Meal 9 year food ministry has contributed $900 to local food support: $500 for The Robinson Bread Basket AND $450 for 2 distributions of McDonald’s and Wendy’s gift cards to our Hickory Grove homeless neighbors. And as you can see-they too wanted to share their thanks with you!
FIRST-WADESBORO PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
ANNUAL HENS AND HAMS PROJECT EXPANDS
Every year, FPC Wadesboro’s ‘Hens and Hams Project’ volunteers and Anson County schools work together to provide vulnerable families with enough groceries to cover both Christmas dinner and regular meals during the school district’s winter break. Last December, John G’s Barbeque of Peachland, Loba-Wakol of Wadesboro, and several anonymous donors helped us provide groceries to 30 families and clothing and other gifts to 75 children. Gift cards left over from the project are being used to help FPC Wadesboro fund our Blessing Bag Program, which sends food home with 25 students every weekend. Finally, we were able to pass on two large bags full of new winter coats left over from the Hens and Hams Project to the Anson County Partnership for Children. FPC Wadesboro is humbled by the generosity of people in our community. It takes a village to overcome certain obstacles; in Anson County, that village is hard at work
CHRISTMAS TREE SANTAS AT PHILADELPHIA CHURCH
Philadelphia Presbyterian Church partnered with Christmas Tree Santas again this year to share hope and joy by giving live Christmas trees to families. PPC is a financial sponsor of the organization, but it is bigger than just writing a check. It is being the hands and feet of Jesus. Christmas Tree Santas has become one of the most beloved events of the year! Volunteers of every age from the church and the community spend the day talking with families, helping them pick out ornaments, and tying trees on cars.
Christmas Tree Santas came the Charlotte area several years ago when Katie Sloan, PPC’s Associate Pastor (CLP), reached out to a high school classmate’s husband, who founded the organization in her hometown. That first year, 75 trees were given away in Charlotte. Each year this number has increased. On Saturday December 5th, CTS gave away thousands of trees in 10 states across the country, including hundreds right here in the Charlotte area at PPC.
Katie works with local agencies to identify the families who receive the trees. The recipients all have one thing in common – they need joy this season. Some of them might be struggling financially, others spiritually. Some might have suffered the loss of a job or loved one this year. Whatever their situation, this season is challenging and receiving a fresh tree (with the stand, ornaments, and lights) helps to provide a bit of joy that tends to spark something special for people. It is a tangible bit of hope. There is something special that happens in the receiving and the giving. People have stopped to pray together, cry together, listen to their stories, and laugh together. Typically, on giveaway day, it is like a party! There is Santa and cocoa and cookies. However, COVID changed some of these things this year. There was no Santa, food, or getting out of vehicles, but the party atmosphere was still present during the drive thru pickup event that included wearing masks, social distancing, lots of sanitizer, and so much hope!
The Partner agencies that the Charlotte area networks with to match families are Hopematch, Servant’s Heart, Unisal, and The Family Enrichment Movement. These relationships have proven to be valuable not just for this event, but for so much more. PPC worked with Hopematch this summer to help families receive groceries gift cards. PPC also has the honor of serving veterans, by providing trees to families through a partnership with Charlotte Bridge Homes. It is a nice way to say thank you for their service.
The networking does not stop on the giving end. This year the organization, Kids That Care, partnered with CTS to donate over 200 handmade ornaments and the Charlotte Crocheters donated handmade ornaments as well. It is amazing to see how much goodwill and excitement comes from this event. In years past, the knitting group from Matthews-Murkland Presbyterian Church crocheted hundreds of ornaments. Christmas Tree Santas is a wonderful ministry that is making a tremendous difference in the lives of many. If you would like to donate to Christmas Tree Santas, please go to christmastreesantas.org (all funds raised in NC stay in NC.
GRIER HEIGHTS CHURCH
“LOVING YOUR NEIGHBOR” FOOD DISTRIBUTION
As the fall leaves turned and the temperatures dropped, the food trailer rolled into the Grier Heights Community Center parking lot to begin the Food Drive-In sponsored by the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Department, Village Heartbeat, Grier Heights Presbyterian Church, and Antioch Baptist Church, along with assistance from Hickory Grove Baptist Church. These organizations partnered with the community to pack food boxes for over 3000 residents and families. These boxes included fresh fruit, vegetables, bread, meat and desserts. With over 50 volunteers from the Grier Heights community and broader Charlotte community, ranging from ages 16 through over 70, this multigenerational event allowed everyone to play a role in addressing food security. “At times, many underserved and under-resourced communities have limited access to healthy, affordable, fresh food options so the opportunity for our residents to receive free food boxes was truly a blessing and a chance for Grier Heights Presbyterian Church to show their love for their neighbor’s wellness and health” said Stacey Brown, President of the Grier Heights Community Improvement Organization, Inc. Grier Heights’ pastor, Rev. Reggie Tuggle, who also participated with his wife, Evette, continues to lead and support the Grier Heights Presbyterian Church practice and motto: “Always there to support the work in the community as we practice living by Mark 12:31, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”
If Trinity’s Prayer Team had a motto, it could be: “No one walks alone.” This group of 17 church members spends countless minutes lifting people up in prayer weekly. Debbie Fisher prays during a morning walk for those on the prayer list. Judith Parker prays their names out loud. Some write notes. Others make phone calls.
“It’s an affirmation of all of us being God’s hands and feet,” said Kathleen Schneider. Betty Anderson hopes the prayers give people strength by pointing them in the direction of God’s care. The comfort of knowing, added Susanne Sawyer, “that you’re on somebody’s mind.”
The need is growing. In one recent meeting, prayer team members spent an hour sharing updates. Prayer requests ranged from a church member facing surgery to families affected by cancer and Alzheimer’s. Of course, Covid-19 complicates it all.
The Prayer Team is changed by the virus, too. Their small, in-person meetings morphed into well-attended weekly Zoom calls They pray for those affected by social distancing and remote learning.
Trinity’s 2020 theme, ConnectTPC, focuses on the connection to God, neighbors and church family. The Prayer Team embodies that spirit in how its members care deeply and pray deeply. It’s bonded them to each other and to those they pray over.
Anyone who would like to share a confidential prayer request can contact Rev. Rebecca Heilman, HERE.
MEMORIAL CHURCH’S MISSION & EVANGELISM MINISTRY TEAM
ENRICHMENT BACKPACK INITIATIVE
The Mission and Evangelism Ministry Team of Memorial Presbyterian church in partnership with the Charlotte Area Fund is preparing to launch its Enrichment Backpack Initiative in November, 2020. The Drive-Thu events will be held at Bruns Elementary School and University Park Arts Academy.
On October 21st & 23rd, 2020 Co-Chairs, Judith Cowan and Delores McNair were joined by Norman and Mae Little, their daughter Angela Jordan, Dorothy Counts-Scoggins of Memorial Presbyterian Church and volunteers from the Charlotte Area Fund and Food Lion Corporate Office to prepare 358 backpacks for the children of Bruns Elementary School. This is the first step to enrich and support the learning experiences of children K-5 in communities on the Northwest Corridor.
With the support of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, Atrium Health, the Census Bureau, The Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Dept., The Men’s Council, Education and Equipment Ministry Team and Presbyterian Women of Memorial, we were able to include age appropriate books, mask for children and parents, sanitizer, hand wipes, personal items, school supplies, and water bottles. COVID workbooks for the children and COVID Safety information in English and Spanish were also provided.
Memorial Presbyterian Church will continue this partnership with the Charlotte Area Fund and others in our community to enrich and support the lives of children and families in the Northwest Corridor.
CENTRAL STEELE CREEK’S MORNING COFFEE MINISTRY TO Y PARENTS
In September Rev. Mark Lee and volunteers began serving coffee to Y parents dropping off their children who attend the Y Back to School program on our campus. With masks and gloves on we offer coffee to the Y parents in their cars and let them know we support them during these challenging times of COVID19 restrictions. Along with coffee, parents are provided a prayer request form that they can return to Rev. Lee. The prayer requests received have created a special connection between our Y parents and members of our church. In Central’s Friday emails and on Sunday during our in-person worship services that are live streamed, we share the prayer requests and pray for our Y parents. One prayer request received was from a young couple facing financial challenges for the down payment on their first home. Members of our church who work in the mortgage industry were able to reach out and provide guidance to the couple. This resulted in a reduction of the amount of the down payment required. From a simple gesture of a cup of coffee we are connecting with our Y parents during this pandemic to let them know God and Central loves them. We ask that you join us in praying for our Y parents as prayer requests include: prayers for family, kids, and finances, and for relatives who are struggling with drug addiction to make wiser choices.