The Outreach and Service Ministry at First Presbyterian Church is built around the call of the PC (USA) to “reveal God’s grace in places of suffering and need, to resist the forces that tyrannize, and to support the forces that restore the dignity of all.”
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Situated in Greenwich Village, less than a mile from Stonewall, First Presbyterian Church has long supported the LGBTQ community. Since the 1980s, the church has hosted the Pride water table, handing out thousands of cups of water to marchers in the annual Heritage of Pride march that passes in front of our church on 5th Avenue.
FPC is an open and inclusive church, and also a proud member of More Light Presbyterians, an organization that is working toward the full participation of LGBTQ people throughout the Presbyterian Church (USA) and society.
Our LGBTQ Action Group provides a space for congregants who are passionate about LGBTQ concerns to think together about what steps we can take to create a more welcoming and safe space for LGBTQ persons in the church and the world. The group creates opportunities for the larger congregation – LGBTQ persons and allies – for fellowship and community-building, to stand in solidarity with our LGBTQ partner organizations, and to think together about how to best provide a place of welcome at First Presbyterian Church. . Some of the group’s activities include volunteer opportunities with Hetrick-Martin Institute and other local organizations; regular brunches; a Pride cocktail party; serving water to Pride marchers; coordinating an annual FPC AIDS Walk NY team; and regular LGBTQ Bible studies.
First Presbyterian’s connection with Cuba began in 2011 when several members of the congregation along with pastoral staff visited the country. In the following years, additional groups from FPC visited and began exploring the idea of building a partnership with a Cuban Presbyterian church. In 2016 a Covenant Agreement was made official between First Presbyterian Church and Taguasco Reformed Presbyterian Church in Taguasco, Cuba. The agreement between our two churches is focused on partnership, mutuality, and an aim to learn from one another and explore areas for joint initiatives.
The partnership with Taguasco is the heart of our Cuba Program at FPC. Taguasco is located in the center of Cuba. It is a small church in terms of membership but broadly serves the surrounding community. The church has programs for children and seniors and is widely known as a welcoming, open and inclusive congregation. Though our relationship is not focused on financial contributions, we give financial support for Taguasco’s Lunch and Laundry project which provides laundry service, breakfast and lunch for 35 seniors each week.
At First Church we hold Cuba Sunday annually, a day when we celebrateour partnership with Taguasco in worship through a bilingual service. We also facilitate visits between FPC and Taguasco to build connections between the congregations and strengthen relationships. In addition to the partnership with Taguasco our staff and Cuba Action Group look for ways to engage with larger PC(USA) Cuba initiatives and to connect with other congregations engaged in Cuba church partnerships.
Click Here to access ‘Su Voz’ here – daily devotions written by Presbyterian Reformed Church in Cuba members
With our Facing Racism Program we acknowledge that we have work to do as a community. We know that racism is systemic, it is pervasive, and it is oppressive. Racism is at times blatant and at other times subtle. Regardless of its form, racism is unjust. We know at FPC that we do not have a history without blemishes in this area, and that we still have much to learn. We aim to listen, educate ourselves, raise awareness where we can, and work against racism in an effort to help build the Beloved Community.
In June 2020, First Church accepted the invitation of the PC(USA) to become a Matthew 25 church, choosing the focus area of dismantling structural racism. The Session answered this call of the denomination knowing that the shift to equity will only be fully realized if those of us who want to see change in the United States lean in and commit to doing the necessary and difficult work required of us. In accepting this invitation, FPC made a commitment to antiracism work with our staff, lay leadership, and congregation. Led by our Facing Racism Action Group, Tthis work is taking place through continued educational and service work, the development of stronger community partnerships, an emphasis on intersectionality, and collaboration with our Social Justice Advocacy Action Group to work for impactful change toward racial justice. The Action Group is also leading an effort to help us reflect and learn more about our history, in particular around discrimination and historic monetary gifts.
Please follow the link here for resources to use in your own time for reading, listening, and learning about racial justice.
Through our Social Justice Advocacy Program we look to challenge public policy that harms creation or maintains systems of marginalization. This program serves as the “advocacy arm” of our Outreach & Service Ministry at First Church. While our other programs are more engaged in the areas of education, partnership, and service, this program focuses more on civic engagement related to our other focus areas.
Our Social Justice Advocacy Action Group is part of the network of PC(USA) Grassroots Advocacy Teams and works to help the larger congregation engage around local, statewide, and national issues.
We are called to be a place of welcome and hospitality, and to be a voice for those who are not being heard. At a time when there are over 65 million people who have been forcibly displaced from their homes as a result of conflict or persecution, we seek to answer that call as a congregation.
Our largest activity within this program area is a co-sponsorship initiative with Church World Service (CWS). Through this partnership, we are able to sponsor a family or individual who is being resettled in the U.S. locally through the resettlement program, has recently been granted asylum, or is seeking asylum in the United States. Our Welcome Team may set up an apartment for our individual or family, help them learn about their neighborhood and how to navigate systems in the U.S., share meals together, help them search for jobs, and work with them as they adjust to their new home and move toward self-sufficiency.
Another area of interest is that of LGBTQ refugees and asylum seekers. An estimated 4,800+ asylum applications in 2014 alone cited LGBT-persecution (LGBT Freedom and Asylum Network). The refugee resettlement process is long and arduous; the path to seeking asylum is also extremely difficult, and both processes present specific challenges that are unique to LGBT people.
Additionally, FPC is a member of the New Sanctuary Coalition (NSC) in NYC, standing in solidarity with the organization led by and for immigrants as they work tirelessly for immigration reform and to stop the inhumane system of deportations in the United States.
First Presbyterian Church was officially certified as a PC(USA) Earth Care Congregation (ECC) in February of 2019, and is committed to being good stewards of the earth. We were re-certified in 2020. Using the PC(USA)’s ECC structure as a general guide, our Earth Care Action Group serves the program by looking at how we can be mindful of eco-justice in all facets of our life together as a congregation, implementing activities and practices in the areas of worship, education, facilities, and outreach. Each year, the church must apply for re-certification to remain an ECC, so we are continually mindful of how we are integrating these practices across the ministries and throughout our operations.
In 2018, the Session of First Church signed the Earth Care Pledge which states, “Peace and justice is God’s plan for all creation. The earth and all creation are God’s. God calls us to be careful, humble stewards of this earth, and to protect and restore it for its own sake, and for the future use and enjoyment of the human family. As God offers all people the special gift of peace through Jesus Christ, and through Christ reconciles all to God, we are called to deal justly with one another and the earth.” FPC is also a member of Presbyterians for Earth Care, a PC(USA) eco-justice network. Additionally, we have signed the “We’re Still In” declaration, stating that we stand behind the Paris Climate Agreement, and pledge to do our part to uphold the pact.
Our Presbyterian Women group at First Church is part of the nationwide Presbyterian Women (PW) organization within the PC(USA), which calls on its members to nurture faith, work for justice and peace, build community, and develop leaders. We have two PW circles that meet monthly for Bible study and discussion, led by trained lay leaders. Additionally, our PW group holds an annual spring retreat, collaborates on the annual Fall Peace & Justice Forum with our Social Justice Advocacy Action Group, and engages in a variety of other service and fellowship activities throughout the year. Our Presbyterian Women Coordinating Team at First Church provides leadership for our two circles and connects with PW activities and groups across the Presbytery. You can learn more about Presbyterian Women at the national level through their website here. PW is a community of over 200,000 women who unite around the shared PW purpose across the country.
Join our PW circles as they continue this year’s study called “Into the Light: Finding Hope Through Prayers of Lament.” Both the Sunday and Wednesday circles are are virtual and are participating in the same study, so please join the circle that works best with your schedule.
Presbyterian Women – Sunday Circle - typically meets the first Sunday of each month at 12:30 p.m.
Presbyterian Women – Wednesday Circle – typically meets the first Wednesday of each month at 8:00 p.m.