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Serve Locally

Dismantling structural racism and eradicating systemic poverty

Who Is My Neighbor?

In Luke 10, Jesus was asked, "And who is my neighbor?" His answer, through the parable of the Good Samaritan, was that anyone who sees you suffering and stops to help is a good neighbor to you - so "Go and do likewise." First Pres' local mission work is part of our answer to that call. We join with PC(USA) in being a Matthew 25 church, which means we support social justice issues such as dismantling structural racism and eradicating systemic poverty.  

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We commit our energy and resources to be a catalyst for improving the lives of our neighbors throughout Howard County and across the Baltimore region.

Local Partners

We work through partnerships with organizations in our community that provide direct services and support for people in need.

Social Justice and Peacemaking

The Peacemaking and Social Justice (PSJ) Committee at First Pres guides and informs our congregation’s efforts to respond to God’s call.

Board of Deacons

The Board of Deacons is a ministry of caring, love, compassion, and community service.

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Want to get involved? 

Opportunities to participate in our local mission work abound! 

  • Attend the First Pres Mission Fair, every year on Akwaaba Sunday in September.

  • Reach out to the Mission Committee, Peacemaking and Social Justice Committee, or Deacons.

  • Sign up for the Local Outreach Volunteers List - or LOV List. The LOV List shares local opportunities - whether those organized and sponsored by the church mission team or to meet needs identified by our local mission partners. Each LOV List email will briefly describe the upcoming volunteer opportunity and provide a sign up link or refer you to a contact person who can offer more details and help you get signed up to volunteer. To join the LOV List, email: lovlist@firstpreshc.org.

We work through partnerships with organizations in our community that provide direct services and support for people in need.

This includes both financial support and direct participation in our partners’ life-changing, and sometimes life-saving, work. Our key local mission partners are: Bridges, Grassroots, and Luminus. Other local groups we provide with financial and non-financial support include the Community Action Council of Howard County, Baltimore Station, and Turnaround Inc.

Bridges to Housing Stability

Bridges to Housing Stability works to prevent homelessness by providing effective services and compelling advocacy that result in housing stability for Howard County households. First Pres teams repair, refurbish, furnish and remodel townhomes and condominiums for local families at risk of becoming homeless; and Church members volunteer for and participate in Bridges fundraisers including a charity golf tournament and chili cook-off.

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Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center

Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center provides free, 24-hour access to quality behavioral health, crisis intervention and homeless services to individual and family consumers in need. First Pres annually sponsors a day of the Grassroots call center, where staff address crises related to suicide, shelter, mental health counseling, substance use, and domestic violence. For 17 years, First Pres has helped Grassroots operate its Cold Weather Shelter program, providing safety and warmth for unhoused families during the coldest months of the year.

Luminus Network for New Americans

Luminus Network for New Americans empowers immigrants, refugees, asylees and other foreign-born individuals by helping them to access community resources and opportunities. For the past five years, First Pres has hosted and run the Warm for Winter event for immigrant families. Each year we provide hundreds of children’s and adult winter coats, blankets, children’s books, and other cold weather clothing and household items. Individual church members also volunteer in a variety of roles.

Social Justice and Peacemaking

We believe that God calls us to be peacemakers by pursuing racial and environmental justice, ending poverty and hunger, and replacing intolerance and violence with inclusion and understanding. 

The Peacemaking and Social Justice (PSJ) Committee at First Pres guides and informs our congregation’s efforts to respond to God’s call. 

The PSJ Committee, in alignment with the social justice policies and initiatives of the Presbyterian Church (USA), focuses on three priority areas: 

  • Achieving full participation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual (LGBTQIA+) people in the life, ministry and witness of the Church. 

  • Promoting racial and ethnic justice and reconciliation, both within First Pres and beyond.

  • Raising disability awareness within the Church and making it easier for everyone to attend services and other activities at First Pres.

 

To help anchor our social justice efforts throughout the year, we join other churches in dedicating specific months to focus on PSJ areas of concern. During those months, we take extra care to celebrate and recognize communities and concerns that are at the heart of our social justice work, incorporating that focus into our worship, educational, fellowship, and mission activities:

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Black History Month (February)

We celebrate Black history during services and through additional education efforts such as a timeline tracking the voting rights history of Black people in the United States and a month-long series studying A Letter from Birmingham Jail. (Why Celebrate Juneteenth?) We have also held many MLK days of service (in January).

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Asia Pacific Month (May)

PSJ coordinated with church members to bring Bollywood Dancing (show & class) celebrating Asian-American heritage to our church, and our Urdu members singing and praying to the Lord in their native language.

LGBTQ Pride Month (June)

PSJ organizes an extensive annual program of articles and activities including Drag Queen story hour, Sponsor a Book program, Pronoun Sunday, and Pride Sunday with guest LGBTQIA+ preachers. We also have sponsored the HoCo Pride Festival, and we recognize the Transgender Day of Remembrance (November 20th) with the lighting of a candle during a service. The PSJ Committee developed a Safe Space training curriculum that has been taken up by church staff and leaders, as part of First Pres' commitment to providing a place of welcoming and safety - of acceptance and affirmation - for everyone, at all times. We also issued a public statement opposing Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law.  [Link to the statement - in Advocacy section of website.]

  • Let Us Build a House: First Pres Pride 2023

  • Link to [Speak Love. Speak Peace. Speak Out! First Pres Pride 2022]

  • Link to [A Time to Dance: First Pres Pride 2021]

  • Link to [Why We Do Drag Queen Story Hour at First Pres]

Disability Awareness in the Church (October)

PSJ is focused on ways we can make it easier for everyone to attend services or church school and identifying accommodations for individuals and families. We have provided scholarships for children and youth with physical and developmental disabilities to attend Camp Greentop, a summer recreational program of the League for People with Disabilities.

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Board of Deacons

The Board of Deacons is a ministry of caring, love, compassion, and community service. As such, the Deacons at First Presbyterian Church of Howard County offer both community and congregational care. Annual local programs include:

  • Just One Can collects donations of non-perishable food and other essential items for the Howard County Food Bank on an on-going basis. The Deacons also support the Howard Community College Food Pantry. Both organizations support individuals and families dealing with food insufficiency within our community.

 

  • School Supply Drive: In the late summer the Deacons collect back-to-school necessities for families in need, which are distributed through a local elementary school and our local partners, Luminus and Bridges to Housing Stability.

 

  • Thanksgiving Baskets: Every November, the Deacons collect food and other items to be distributed to our local partners (in 2023 we supported Luminus and Bridges to Housing Stability). Donations are given by our congregation, along with quilting and scout groups that meet in our church. In 2023, we were able to provide 65 families with food items and gift cards to purchase needed items.

 

  • Christmas Stockings: During the holiday season, the Deacons collect gifts that are shared with the local community. In 2023, we were able to offer a Merry Christmas to more than 100 children referred by the Luminus Network for New Americans and The Salvation Army.

  • Mitten Tree provides hats, gloves, scarves and socks during the winter months to children and adults.

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