Updates From Our Churches

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As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds in our communities, our churches are practicing new ways to worship, and caring for their community (both internally and externally). We are highlighting stories and updates from our churches as we become aware of them. If you would like to submit your update, please email info@staugpres.org with your details and photos.

Reaching Out and Caring for Each Other

Our churches have been working to care for those in their congregation and the wider community. Deacons, session members, and other church volunteers are checking in on the vulnerable members of the congregations, sharing masks and meals, or helping with errands for those who can’t leave their homes. Churches are also reaching out to their wider communities in a variety of way by supporting food drives, helping with childcare for first responders, and assisting parents who must work in essential jobs with virtual education for their children.

Added 5/14 – Peace Presbyterian Church in Jacksonville has received an Emergency Needs Grant from Presbyterian Disaster Assistance for support of it’s Brenda Hauk Food Pantry, a long time mission serving the community. The goal of the Emergency Needs Grant in Response to COVID-19 is to increase the amount of food provided by the food pantry per family/individual in order to alleviate the acute need in our community during this time. If you would like to volunteer or contribute to this program, navigate over to www.ppc-jax.org for more information.

Added 5/11 – On Saturday, May 16 at 10 a.m., Lakewood Presbyterian Church in Jacksonville will be hosting a Mobile Food Pantry in their parking lot in partnership with UCOM and Feeding Northeast Florida.   Thirty five volunteers from Lakewood and volunteers from Lakewood United Methodist Church will join together to safely distribute food bags  The goal is to help people in this immediate neighborhood with their needs. 

Added 4/27 – Every morning at 9 o clock the phone rings at the homes of Highlands United Presbyterian Church members. It’s their pastor Dr. Dave. He begins each day with the lectionary Psalm, a prayer, and words of guidance and HOPE as we go through this special time together. It’s a lot of extra work for him but it’s a welcome way to start the day at this especially challenging time.  Church is good for mental health!

Added 4/27 – Art 4 All, a creative arts ministry of Fort King Presbyterian Church in Ocala, is a chance for people of all ages, faiths, and cultures to come together for a time of creativity and fellowship. During this time of physical distancing, the Art 4 All program adapted so they have all been busily “arting ” while confined to home.  They then share with each other online, or create cards and other works to serve as cooperative projects sent for others to finish. Included are pen and ink scribble drawings; cards sent to Art 4 All children to color and send to others;  handmade polymer clay beads;  poured acrylic paintings; and collage elements cut from hand painted papers. Joanne Ohlman and Susan Jensen shared a few photos of their recent “Art in the Time of COVID” projects.

Trinity Presbyterian Church in Palm Coast shared that they are supporting the Mayor’s Feed Palm Coast Initiative. The initiative is partnering with faith-based organizations in a massive campaign to provide thousands of families with food on Saturday, May 2.  Bob Mack reported that Trinity’s Missions and Social Concerns Committee jumped on this opportunity. They sent emails and text messages, and made phone calls in order to expedite an action plan. In just one morning they collected two full SUVs worth of food (even in the midst of a tornado watch!).  The church will be collecting food all week in preparation for the community distribution and are grateful for their community’s generosity. Bob shared a few photos from their collection efforts.

The Silver Springs Shores Presbyterian Church in Ocala is  serving their community in several ways. The Day Care is providing child care for essential workers – insuring that they meet all the new state guidelines.  Their food pantry is open two afternoons each week and they no longer limit folks to their specific community provided they have the food.  The Marion County Public Schools has a drive by lunch line from 10:15 to 10:45 each weekday morning and once a week the Boys & Girls club provides additional food for the lunch line.  Several women in the church are sewing masks and their day care staff is appreciative of them.

Worship Creativity

Our presbytery churches have gotten creative with how they worship, doing what works best for their community. Some churches are live streaming worship on their websites or using Facebook Live (either with a live service or prerecorded worship uploaded to YouTube or other source). Other churches are gathering their community and worshiping together on Zoom. Other churches are worshiping in the church parking lots with “drive-up worship”, in small, socially distanced gatherings inside the church or outside on the church property, or worshiping together via conference call. Churches are sharing communion using guidelines offered by the PCUSA Office of Theology and Worship, and one of our local churches.

Visit the Virtual Worship Opportunities post to see worship details for our churches.

Added 4/27Highlands United Presbyterian Church worships each week via Zoom, complete with bell choir, organ music and a soloist. On April 26, HUPC was treated to an especially LIVING gospel. Their minister, Dr. Dave Lee, got together with their Director of Christian Education, Laura Sambito, and together created a video of the Gospel. A one-year-old precious little girl held the sign announcing this scripture while the dad and two boys walked to Emmaus and met Jesus. One of the little boys broke the bread and passed it to his dad and brother. It brought tears to all of our eyes. Mom was the videographer. It was a wonderful example of how creativity is flowing, as is the gospel.

In Ocala, Fort King Presbyterian Church and the Presbyterian Church of Marion Oaks, are among the churches that are offering drive-up worship each week. Williston Presbyterian Church and Calvin Presbyterian Church were among other churches that offered drive-up worship for Easter Sunday. Here are a few photos that were submitted from Fort King and Williston:

Debbie Pangrass, Commissioned Ruling Elder at Marion Oaks, reported that they had 42 in worship on April 19. She shared this video:

Stay tuned for more updates! Please share your ideas and feedback by emailing info@staugpres.org.