Archie Jenkins, South Jacksonville Presbyterian Church Member, Recognized as a Founding Member of UCOM
Archie Jenkins, a life-long member of South Jacksonville Presbyterian Church, was among those recently recognized as founders of United Community Outreach Ministry (UCOM) at the organization’s 40th Anniversary Gala.
The seeds for UCOM started in 1978 when Laura Gordon, former Associate Executive Presbyter for our presbytery, met with five Southside Jacksonville Churches: All Saints Episcopal, Lakewood Presbyterian, Mt. Oliver Baptist, Mt. Zion AME, and South Jacksonville Presbyterian. They discussed the possibility of expanding the city’s federally funded Meals-on-Wheels program to Pine Forest, a predominantly black and poor Southside community.
At the time UCOM was founded, Archie Jenkins was working part-time for South Jacksonville Presbyterian Church as youth director and outreach minister and had just recently completed a degree from Princeton Theological Seminary, studying how our faith spoke to issues of inequality and oppression. With an undergraduate education in economics, and a Wealth Manager by trade, his focus at Princeton was on theology of the oppressed, liberation theology, urban economics, and poverty economics. Archie’s field experience included working within the oppressed and impoverished community of Newark, which allowed him the opportunity to observe the work of the National Council of Christians and Jews and the Newark Human Rights Commission.
Archie’s education, experience, and continuing passion were instrumental in laying the groundwork for UCOM’s model of ministry in Jacksonville’s Southside community. UCOM’s three primary programs includes:
- the largest volunteer Meals on Wheels program in Jacksonville with over one million meals served,
- a food pantry which receives donations from over 50 churches / faith-based organizations and business partners, and
- a program which provides scholarships for CNA training, offering participants a way out of poverty and an entry into other healthcare professions. Over 600 diplomas have been received by the participants.
Another key founder, Nathaniel Washington, recently deceased, was present in spirit as Chairman of UCOM’s 40th Anniversary Gala. Nat was an educator, coach, advocate and motivator for minority youth who needed the skills to step up and out of poverty. Nat spearheaded the Minority Youth Employment program and Archie considers Nat to be “the single most influential person in the storied history of UCOM.”
In presenting the award to Archie Jenkins, Matt Carlucci remarked that when the opportunity for UCOM to secure a city grant to buy a permanent home (what had once been the old Phillips congregational church built in 1876 by the emancipated African-Americans as their house of worship), “Archie was the first person I called for help!” He also remarked that “while there were 12 founding churches … Archie founded this ministry that has helped thousands of people right in our backyards!”
Archie is quick to recognize that UCOM’s success is due to the combined efforts of “the Holy Spirit, other key founding members, invaluable volunteers and Executive Directors.”
Congratulations Archie! And thank you to our presbytery churches that support UCOM, working together with other faith groups, business partners and community leaders to change the narrative for the oppressed and impoverished in Jacksonville’s Southside.
Grace Presbyterian Church and Korean Worshiping Community
Submitted by Charles Freeman, Pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church
For about a year, the sanctuary of Grace Presbyterian Church in Gainesville has also been the worshiping home of a fledgling congregation of Korean residents of that area.
In late 2017, Rev. John and Sara Kim first visited GPC and soon became welcome members of the community. The next year, Rev. Kim shared his desire to begin a worshiping community to reach out to the Korean community, and the GPC session was quick to endorse and support the new venture.
As with many new worshiping communities, things started slowly. By early 2019, however, the group was up to as many as 20-25 worshipers on Sundays, many of them graduate students in various programs at the University of Florida. In many cases, these students will be returning to South Korea after their studies. The Korean Presbyterian Church worshiping community here becomes a church home-away-from-home while they are in the U.S., while also providing the opportunity to worship and fellowship in their native language. The community also has Bible study and fellowship on Friday evenings.
On November 17, the two congregations joined together for a united service of worship. The Korean congregation (yes, the whole congregation) provided the music, with Rev. Freeman of GPC providing the sermon. After worship, the two congregations joined for a time of fellowship over lunch, with both traditional Thanksgiving fare and traditional Korean food.
Thank you for your hospitality to the Korean students in the Gainesville community!
Bread of Life Community Ministry in Palatka
By Page Walwik – Seminary Intern at FPC, Palatka
Along the banks of the St. John’s River flows a community of people that have all found themselves at the same bend. Beneath the currents of life, Putnam County has been touched with a timeless opportunity in which God’s love can flood the souls of people through the ministry of Bread of Life (BOL). First Presbyterian Church (FPC) of Palatka, FL, became the vessel to steer the ship under the leadership of Transitional Pastor Cliff Lyda. Having sailed this route before, Lyda knew the river flowed fast; therefore, he poured himself into the tide and gathered everyone on board to row the ship. In 1989, BOL began at FPC and, as the river flowed with leadership changes and a different location, BOL went through some rough waters. Today, they have been thrown a life preserver and given a fresh start. BOL, a nonprofit organization of Putnam County, has returned back home to FPC.
The community has been instrumental in the success of BOL, with FPC as just one part of this ministry. Within a few months, BOL went from serving 20 people to 80 on any given day. Not only were people coming in to be served, but the outpouring of volunteers, local businesses, and individual families providing meals and helping hands on a daily basis has truly embraced this as a community ministry. The third photo reflects the community support for the Bread of Life program (pictured are l-r Putnam County Sheriff deputies, Bread of Life Board Member, Pastor Cliff Lyda, and Putnam County Sheriff Gator DeLoach).
Lyda reflects, “In all my 35 years of being a pastor, I have never seen the Holy Spirit move in such a way that involves an entire community of churches, families, and businesses. It’s unimaginable to have something self-start from the ground up. What an honor to serve in this moment at First Presbyterian Church Palatka or, as known by the locals, ‘The church on the River’.”
Thank you for responding to the needs of your community!
Community Thanksgiving Dinner at First Presbyterian Church Lake City
By Terri Millikin, Event Organizer
In 2000, a Thanksgiving meal was started as a Mission outreach for the homeless in the Lake City area. The meaning of Thanksgiving changed that day for our church and community. Nineteen years and 20 meals later, we are still going strong.
A traditional meal of smoked turkey, cornbread dressing, gravy, sweet potatoes, and green beans is prepared. Tables are set with linens and our guests are greeted at the door, seated and served their meal. Homemade desserts are the finishing touch. Everything is done by volunteers from the church and community.
Over the years we have seen this grow into one of the most anticipated and appreciated traditions in Lake City. When you look around, you will see the homeless, families, community leaders, church members, and couples with no family in the area all sharing tables and a meal together. Our fellowship hall becomes a safe place, with smiles, handshakes and hugs.
I invite you all to come and experience Thanksgiving with us in 2020! Your soul will be blessed in a way I cannot explain!
Thank you for your long term commitment to caring for your community on Thanksgiving Day!
For detailed information about the gathering, including workshop descriptions and the registration form, please click on the registration packet below. Please note the registration deadline is January 10.
Please share this information with your congregations and friends who support the Presbyterian Women. If you have any questions about the Annual Gathering, please contact Kathy VanderVliet at email@example.com. Thank you!
Schedule for the Gathering
Registration & Refreshments 9:00 – 9:30 a.m.
Worship 9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. (Offering collected for Mission Haven)
Business Meeting 10:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Lunch 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Workshops 1:30 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.
Drama & Benediction 2:15 – 2:30 p.m.
A) Moderator/Vice Moderator Training
B) Treasurer Training
C) Secretary / Historian Training
E) The Hidden Life of Trees (a walk among the trees)
F) Continuing Worship Conversation
Please bring a note pad, pen and a refillable water bottle to the event.
Workshop for Session Clerks Still Has Space
Comfort My People: Mental Health Ministries in Healthy Congregations
The Presbytery of St. Augustine has received a $10,000 grant to fund a year-long initiative that we are calling, “Comfort My People: Mental Health in Healthy Congregations.”
As a focus of our initiative, Susan Lee, LCSW, a member of Highlands United Presbyterian Church, will serve as a consultant/coach with congregations in our Presbytery. Susan will be available to lead programs and intergenerational activities, provide workshops for congregational leaders, meet with resource people and identify appropriate referrals for mental health support near you. More details will follow in November.
As it develops, this work will focus on three areas with a goal of including as many of our 58 congregations as possible:
- To expand mental health awareness, understanding of mental issues and advocacy for mental health services.
- To eliminate the stigma surrounding mental illness, and especially serious mental illnesses.
- To become more welcoming, inclusive and supportive faith communities for people living with mental health challenges.
If you’d like to help break down the stigma of mental illness, or for more information about implementing this new ministry in the presbytery, you can contact Chris Lieberman (Relationship Coordination Director) at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, call 502-475-8025.
This will begin with one person at a time and one congregation at a time as we share our stories and open ourselves to God’s power for compassion care. We are inviting you to help educate, equip and empower one another to be who we are – Christ’s communities of care – to (and with) people living with mental health conditions and their loved ones.
Pam Parker gave one expression to this ministry of creating safe spaces in churches to honestly be herself in an article she wrote for the March 11, 2019 issue of Presbyterian Outlook. In this excerpt Ms. Parker relates a stewardship presentation which turned into an opportunity to share a fuller part of herself in church – which is a true gift:
I am fortunate to belong to Wauwatosa Presbyterian Church in suburban Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Our co-pastors, Jim Rand and Brett Swanson, have nurtured a supportive community of faith. Our tradition is to have members speak for a few minutes in the weeks before we turn in pledges about why we give. I was asked to share my story one Sunday. After meeting and listening to Anne Lamott who was touring for her book “Almost Everything: Notes on Hope” I was preparing to share an optimistic, hope-filled testimony. But that morning I woke to the news of the shootings at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. Like so many others, I found myself asking: How can this happen again? Why?
I plunged from the high of Anne Lamott’s hope-filled words to the darkness of violent deaths. I had difficulty praying. An optimistic, hopeful account of why I give to my church was no longer possible. Instead, I shared that sometimes I give for my own hard times – for the awareness that when depression clouds my thinking, I know there are others in my faith community who will be praying for me. I felt safe sharing authentically and sincerely from my heart. Thanks to the trust our pastors have sustained for us, I know my ability to be open in my church has helped others.
Listen and learn
Depression is hard to understand if you have no experience with it yourself. It can manifest in different ways at different times. If you try to speak with someone who does not understand depression, the divide can seem unconquerable. It is not.
My favorite resource to share with people who want to better understand the struggles some face with depression is a podcast created by two sisters, Terry and Bridget: “Giving Voice to Depression.” They offer a comfortable range of topics shared with guests that present a wide spectrum of experiences with depression. As they say on their website:
“We’re not therapists or experts. But we battle depression and have lost family members and friends by suicide. It’s in their honor that we began this project. It is our hope and commitment to increase awareness and reduce the stigma and isolation of depression, one story at a time. These stories could truly save lives.”
Terry and Bridget understand only too well the connection between depression and suicide. Like them, I believe that sharing stories can save lives.
Submitted by Tracy Martin & Del Smith
Is a church that is 40 years old an old church? Well, if you compare this age with some European churches, such as the recently damaged Notre Dame in Paris, or even churches in nearby St. Augustine, 40 years is only a tick of the clock. But in a city that has been a city for only 20 years, a 40 year old church is a venerable institution.
This year Trinity Presbyterian Church, located on the corner of Florida Park Drive and Palm Harbor Parkway, is 40 years old. It all began in 1979 when the Presbytery of Northeast Florida (now the Presbytery of St Augustine) purchased 5 acres of land on this corner and dispatched the Rev. James Tinsley to knock on doors to find Presbyterians or potential Presbyterians among the new residents of the fledgling community.
The first worship service of the new congregation was held in November of 1979 in the YMCA building, which later became the Community Center. This space was shared with another new congregation that became St. Mark’s Lutheran Church. Trinity was officially chartered on Palm Sunday, 1980.
Meanwhile, building was progressing, and the first sanctuary on the corner of Florida Park and Palm Harbor was dedicated on April 5, 1981. This original sanctuary is now the church’s fellowship hall and is called Mehaffey Hall, named for Trinity’s second installed Pastor, the Rev. George Mehaffey who came to Palm Coast in 1985 and served for 10 years until his retirement in 1995.
During Dr. Mehaffey’s tenure much building was happening, both in congregational growth and in new structures. The first addition to the church building occurred in 1987 with a wing that included a library, fellowship hall, and office. The present structure was completed and dedicated in 1995, just before Dr. Mehaffey’s retirement, and includes the present sanctuary.
The Rev. Dr. Jeffrey DeYoe was installed as Pastor in 1997 and served until 2007; Rev. Dr. D. Ronald Watson served from 2009 until 2018, and is now Pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Ocala. The congregation is presently served by Interim Pastor Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Beebe. Dr. Jeffrey Beebe conducts services every Sunday at 10:00 a.m.
Trinity has long been involved in community concerns, from the Family Life Center, the Flagler Resource Center, to the Family Food Program. Today Trinity also sponsors Scout Pack #281, and a Presbyterian Counseling Center.
Although Palm Coast was vastly different in 1979, Trinity continues to provide a special worship space and fellowship for the community 40 years later. Some of the founding members from 1979 still worship at Trinity today!
Past ministers and members will return to Trinity for a celebration Service on Sunday, November 10, 2019 at 4:00 pm.