Leave a Comment
By the Rev. Patrice Fowler-Searcy
A delegation of eight from the Pittsburgh Presbytery Malawi Partnership, including me, departed from Dulles Airport in D.C. on July 11. A day later, we met up at Addis Ababa Airport in Ethiopia to continue our journey with Abusa (Pastor) Joseph and Elder Ngang from South Sudan. Arriving in Chileka Airport in Malawi on July 12, we were met with singing and dancing, as well as welcoming arms by our brothers and sisters from various CCAP churches—but most prominently by members of ELPC’s sister church, Balaka CCAP! My bags were whisked away, flowers were thrust into my hands, and thus began my two weeks in Malawi.
The beauty and majesty of Malawi is only eclipsed by the love, faithfulness, and hospitality of the people and specifically the members of Balaka CCAP. At first, the members of the congregation didn’t quite know what to make of me. But after breaking bread, worshiping together, traveling to a prayer house in the “country,” attending weekly worship at the Railway Zone, and worshiping with the older women of Mvano on Saturday, I felt and was treated like a long-lost daughter who had returned home. The warm hospitality I received in the homes of the three families where I stayed—as well as those who opened their homes and hosted dinners and gatherings—was beyond compare.
I also witnessed the poverty and need of many traveling to a village close to the border Mozambique with staff from the Sue Ryder Foundation. We traveled there to check on and administer medication to people who suffer from asthma, cerebral palsy, and other physical disabilities. I was saddened and alarmed as the physical therapist on the team tried to manipulate the arms and legs of a four-year-old child—no larger than the average American two-year-old—thinking she suffered from a form of physical disability, only to realize she was unable to sit or stand on her own as a result of severe malnutrition. My heart broke.
There is so much to share, but time and space didn’t allow. However, I will share that the people of Malawi are filled with the Spirit of God, they worship and are joyful in spite of their difficulties, and they welcome strangers and missionaries with open arms. God is truly at work in that country where so many have so little.
I learned a lot from them in my two weeks there, and pray that the lessons I learned will continue to renew and transform me and my faith daily. Ambuye alemekezeke! Praise be to you, God!
Leave a Comment
From the PC(USA) Office of Public Witness Action Alert
President Trump is seriously considering putting an end to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)—a highly successful program with strong, bipartisan support that has 800,000 immigrant youth obtain work permits, build lives here, and strengthen the entire country.
Killing off DACA would be an unmitigated disaster. DACA has unlocked economic opportunities for the nearly 800,000 beneficiaries who have come forward, passed background checks and been granted permission to live and work legally in America. Many have been able to fulfill their dreams of attending and completing college. Most are working legally, paying taxes and providing for their families.
The moment of truth has arrived. People of good will from across the political spectrum must take a stand. We must stand up for Dreamers, insisting that DACA be kept in place until Congress can pass a clean version of the DREAM Act or broader immigration reform. We must stand up for immigrant families who are settled in America and contribute so much to the country they now call home. We must stand up to an agenda focused on deporting millions of hardworking immigrants with deep ties to America. If President Trump won’t defend DACA, it will be yet another confirmation that every undocumented immigrant in America is under immediate threat.
Please consider contacting your representatives in Congress in support of keeping the DACA program by phone or social media. Learn more at https://DefendDACA.com.
Senator Pat Toomey: 412.803.3501 or 202.224.4254
Senator Bob Casey: 202.224.6324
Comments Off on One Great Hour of Sharing Offering
“You shall be called repairers of the breach.”—Isaiah 58
The liturgical season of Lent is historically marked with fasting, a traditional practice of giving up food, and devoting ourselves to prayer. However, this isn’t the only type of fasting talked about in the sacred texts. Isaiah 58 describes a new fast, not to give up bread, but to share it. Isaiah calls us to “loose the bonds of injustice,” “let the oppressed go free,” “share bread with the hungry,” and “invite the homeless poor into our homes.” We are called to help those in need and to restore those who have been broken down. More than ever, as God’s people, we are “called to be repairers of the breach” of the brokenness, division, and need in this world by giving of our gifts, time, talent, and treasure.
When we support the One Great Hour of Sharing Offering, we join congregations all over the country as we seek to answer God’s call and support the lives of many people through Self-Development of People, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, and Presbyterian Hunger Programs. ELPC will receive the One Great Hour of Sharing Offering on Sun., April 2, and Palm Sunday, April 9. Please give generously.
Comments Off on Supporting Local Families Through OHM
While you may be familiar with Open Hand Ministries (OHM) for its home rehab workdays on the first Saturday of each month, OHM’s real focus is on working with families so they can move beyond their fragile economic situations, move out of poverty, become financially stable, and qualify to buy a home.
To help families reach these goals, OHM offers a structured family development program, called Circles. Through the Circles program, a family (Leader) that wants to change the outlook of their finances and life goals, is paired with a supportive “Ally” who assists them.
OHM is currently looking for both Leaders and Allies. Training will begin in the spring! If you are interested in becoming an Ally and would like to chat with current Allies from ELPC, contact Allison Freeman at email@example.com or Susan Spangler at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the Circles program, please contact Jodi Salant at email@example.com or 412.361.8061.
Comments Off on Christmas Joy Offering to be Received
The 2016 Christmas Joy Offering celebrates the coming of Jesus Christ, the “wondrous gift” of God with us. Jesus arrived in a humble stable in small and insignificant Bethlehem, to lead and teach in truth and love, and bring about God’s salvation to the world. What a “wondrous gift” indeed! This was a gift so profound that the only response was the bringing of more gifts; the Magi arrived with gold, frankincense, and myrrh to honor the Christ Child.
Since the 1930s, the PC(USA) has provided the opportunity for congregations to join this celebration of God’s wondrous gift by supporting those in need of help and hope through the Christmas Joy Offering. Our gifts offer financial assistance to individuals and families who have dedicated their lives to the church, and also supports racial/ethnic education and leadership development programs for students attending Presbyterian-related schools and colleges.
In gratitude to God for the wondrous gift of Jesus, ELPC will receive the Christmas Joy Offering on Sun., Dec. 18,. Please give generously.
Comments Off on What is Open Hand Ministries’ Family Care Program?
Open Hand Ministries (OHM) partners with like-hearted organizations and individuals, such as churches, community development corporations, lending agencies, expert trade skill professionals, funding organizations, and other local support agencies. Through this collaboration, OHM’s Family Care Program works to equip families for success and homeownership, by:
- Working with local families as they become “wealth builders” through debt reduction, budgeting, saving, investing, and mortgage readiness;
- Rehabilitating vacant or abandoned properties within developing areas, transforming them into safe, sound, energy-efficient, and affordable houses for families to purchase as homes and investments; and
- Maintaining supportive relationships with the families and helping them to thrive in homeownership, wealth-building, and life.
OHM’s Family Care program has adopted the nationally recognized “Circles” model, where OHM families (Circle Leaders) are matched with Family Care volunteers (Circles Allies) to form teams (Circles) that work to accomplish a family’s goals.
OHM’s approach is unique when it comes to addressing systemic racism and generational poverty because the financial struggles of the families are almost always a result of this trauma. OHM’s Family Care program addresses relationship building, racism/genderism/classism, and community issues with our families first, and then addresses financial management within these larger topics.
The Circles community meets weekly, with dinner and childcare provided. For more information or to get involved, contact Allison Freeman at firstname.lastname@example.org or Emily Rosenthal at email@example.com.
Comments Off on Thanksgiving Food Drive
Share the abundance in your life with others this Thanksgiving. The ELPC Neighbors and Christian Education Committees invite you to donate Thanksgiving meal items to the EECM Food Pantry. Shopping bags with a grocery list will be distributed at worship on Sundays, Oct. 30 and Nov. 6. Bags filled with food donations are due back on Stewardship Sunday, Nov. 13.
For more info, contact Pastor Patrice at 412.441.3800 x30.
Comments Off on Children’s Sabbath Sunday
Ageism in Reverse: Ageism is defined as “discrimination against persons of a certain age group, usually associated with a tendency to regard older persons as debilitated, unworthy of attention, or unsuitable for employment.” Often, children also are victims of ageism, not seen as having value or worth by society.
On Sun., Oct. 16, we will celebrate the National Observance of Children’s Sabbaths, Children of Promise: Closing Opportunity Gaps, as we strive to close opportunity gaps that exist as a result of poverty, and lack of access to high-quality early childhood development and a high-quality education so that every child can reach their God-given potential. As people of faith we stand tall and push our nation to keep our promises of love, justice, equality, and dignity for all—especially our children.
Comments Off on Update on Childhood Nutrition Reauthorization Bill
Last June, many of you wrote letters urging Congress to reauthorize the Childhood Nutrition Act of 2010, which funds school breakfast and lunch programs, summer feeding programs, and WIC (Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women Infants and Children). Re-authorization is important to expand access and improve the programs. The following is a progress update from the Neighbors Committee. (more…)
Comments Off on One Great Hour of Sharing
As we move through the Lenten season and prepare for Resurrection Sunday, we are grateful for the transformation made possible through the One Great Hour of Sharing offering. In places like Malawi; Bolivia; Point Pleasant, N.J.; and Iona, Mich., those most in need are finding hope through the work of Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, the Presbyterian Hunger Program, the Self-Development of People program, and their partners in ministry. It is easy to become distracted from the reality faced by our brothers and sisters around the world where poverty, disaster, and war cause displacement and suffering.
This is why we continue to give to One Great Hour of Sharing. Feeding the hungry, helping people build up their livelihoods, responding to disasters—these are all ways that your gifts are changing lives, communities, and the world. On Palm Sunday, March 20, join Christians all across the country as we tangibly witness to the abundant love of God through One Great Hour of Sharing.