(The following piece is the text of the Minute for Mission that Steve Wilhite the Leader of the Outreach SLG delivered at the end of Michael’s sermon about living our lives as missionaries on May 5.)
In early April, a group of members and friends of Old First gathered over lunch to discuss the church’s Outreach programs.
Many of those present reported, as we expected, that they were attracted to Old First because of its Outreach programs.
And it was noted that we have been very successful in attracting groups from outside Old First to become involved in our Outreach program.
But, there was general consensus among us present at the luncheon that we need greater involvement of this congregation in our outreach programs.
First and foremost, we need greater congregational involvement because involvement represents opportunities for spiritual connection and growth – spiritual connection with God, with each other, and with those being served by our Outreach ministries.
But, we also need more congregational engagement because we need advocates in this congregation for our programs – advocates who have first-hand experience with these programs and the people they serve.
So, how can you become involved?
Join the Outreach Standing Leadership Group that plans and coordinates all of the Outreach programs – the next meeting will be held on Thurs., May 23rd, at 6 p.m.
Food and clothing cupboard
You can form or join an Old First group to prepare and serve breakfast – we have identified an Old First “friend” who is willing to be the team leader; we just need 5 members to join the team.
You can come to the cupboard to assist with clothing distribution.
You can serve as the Old First “host” even when other groups are doing the breakfast — our goal for the coming year is to have an Old First host (in addition to the Outreach Coordinator) present at the cupboard each week.
You can assist cupboard visitors with special needs such as writing a letter, understanding an “official” (e.g., government) letter received, or finding the best referral source for getting assistance with a particular issue or problem.
You can suggest sources of external funding to meet the budget target of $26,000.
You can form or join an Old First group to prepare and serve a meal –- For the shelter season beginning in the fall, there will be a monthly Old First shelter meal night, on the 3rd Monday of each month. We hope that 6 different groups from our own church will gather to serve a meal.
You can serve as the Old First host when outside groups are preparing the meal.
You can give brief presentations to groups on “Philly highlights and attractions” to guide participants in their off-duty explorations of the city.
You can give brief presentations on issues facing Philly (e.g., K-12 education system, gun violence, need for a “living wage”, etc.) -– on any topic about which you are knowledgeable or interested and that is likely to be relevant and of interest to folks who volunteer for urban service camps.
You can serve as Sunday morning host for groups – thanking participants for their service, answering questions they may have, encouraging them to continue working on the the things they learned while here and to return.
YASC (Young Adult Service Community)
Though just getting started and a separate ministry team of the Outreach Standing Leadership Group, YASC will also have opportunities for Old Firsters to be involved, for example, getting the space ready for the young adults who live among us, or serving as family that relates to the specific YASC interns. For more information on this, speak with Beth Walker or other members of that ministry team.
You can lead reflection sessions on service experiences -– the Outreach Coordinator will provide a template that you can use for the session, as well as background information on the group’s service work.
As service camps are scheduled for June and July, volunteers are being sought NOW.
POWER (Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower, and Renew)
You can join the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) – See Sterling Schweibert or Mike Wass.
You can become involved in the group’s advocacy work around jobs and education in Philadelphia by writing letters and emails and joining POWER groups when they “show up” to visit City Council members, the Mayor, and labor and education leaders.
You can become trained in conducting “one-on-one’s” with Old First members to discover the issues they are most passionate about having the LOC pursue.
Thanks for your interest, your time and support. We believe that the Outreach Ministries are an integral part of what make Old First special to us. And that if we can encourage more involvement in these ministries, they will be better resourced, but almost more importantly they will touch and transform our whole church community life as they build up our spirits and our service.
Billi and the members of the Outreach Standing Leadership Group and I look forward to hearing from you at talking with you. (Please feel free to approach any of us at any time with questions or suggestions.)
Steve Wilhite, Outreach SLG Leader
(the rest of the members of our standing leadership group are: Andrew Hartmann, Pat Malley, Bob Robinson, Stirling Schwiebert, Woody Ulmer, Jill Walsh, Mike Wass.