Ministry Plan for First Presbyterian Church of Port Richey
Mission Statement: A Missional Church
September 10, 2015
This Church’s mission is to demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ to the people of our community.
First Presbyterian Church was chartered in 1957 and belongs to the Presbytery of Tampa Bay, a member of the Presbyterian Church (USA). First Presbyterian has had a continuous Christian presence for 58 years serving the people of Southwest Pasco County. The Church sits on five acres, of which two and half are used for our church buildings. The Church is totally debt-free.
First Presbyterian enjoyed rapid growth during the baby-boom years of the 1950’s and 1960’s reaching a membership of over 400. During the 1970-1980’s, First Presbyterian began to diminish in membership as “main-line” Protestant churches lost cultural influence. During the past fifteen years, resources were underused and over protected. For example, money was invested for a “rainy day” and the use of the building was discouraged. Maintenance on the property was largely a volunteer effort and evidence of a planned program of upgrades cannot be found. Every penny was watched and funds were invested for their preservation. Likewise, funds were sparingly invested in mission to the community in which it existed. As a result, the decline in membership increased, and funds safeguarded were spent to preserve the status quo. During the past three years First Presbyterian has had a more proactive approach to outreach ministry than at any time in its history. Using prayer as the guide, leadership sought the will of God in providing mission to the community. As of this writing, First Presbyterian has clearly moved from a survival mode to mission.
Today, First Presbyterian works within the community by constantly reaching out to its neighbors. The buildings are constantly in use. Community usage is up with two Girl Scout troops, and six NA groups meeting weekly. A free Food Pantry and gently used clothing boutique is open every Friday along with a meal provided by Metropolitan Ministries. An informal church service is conducted every Friday for all who come to the feeding ministries. Attendance at the Friday service averages between 50 and 60 people, and a majority of these people are new to the Church. This is one of First Presbyterian’s premiere evangelism and growth tools. There is an average attendance for the Traditional Sunday service of 40 or 50 people and there seems to have formed two very distinct communities coming to the services. In 2015 there was a net gain of 5 members (9 new, 4 transfers/inactive/death).
Planning for the future includes continuing all of what was mentioned above as well as an effort to continue to reach out to the community. The Friday and Sunday services will continue. The Church will seek to engage youth, placing a high priority on the surrounding schools.
Planning for 2016 includes a stewardship drive (11/15). This will determine the congregation’s support for the year going forward. It is hoped to add more hours to the pastor’s ministry schedule currently working quarter-time. A concerted effort will be placed on inviting people into membership to continue to grow by adding new members throughout the year. The church has gone from being very inactive and passive to where the entire congregation is involved in one program or another. The plan is to build on this enthusiasm!
The toughest part of this plan for 2016 will be in raising funds. The Session plans to boldly communicate with members about the need for financial commitment. This last year’s efforts raised about $52,500.00 for the general fund. This figure does not include all funds raised by the church, but this is a strong indicator of financial support. In 2016 the hope is to increase giving by at least 10%, or about $5200.00. This will bring the total up to $57,700.00 for year 2016.
In summary, FPCPR will continue to place emphasis on reaching out to the community. This will be done through the worship program offering two services, one on Friday and one on Sunday. The congregation will continue to sponsor and support the food pantry and clothing boutique, and Friday meals. Goals will include adding to membership throughout the year and working toward the inclusion of youth in the life of the Church. Plans call for the support of our minister by increasing his hours. The goal is to have a part-time minister by the end of 2016!
Goals for 2016 are as follows:
- Conduct a Stewardship Drive increasing annual giving to $57,000.00
- Increase Pastor’s hours to half-time
- Seek pastoral leadership for children’s and youth ministries
- Increase food pantry and hot meal ministries.
The 2016 approved Operational Budget will require $138,375 annual income to fund this mission plan
The 2016 approved Mission Budget pledged to local, regional, and worldwide missions will require $13,500.
The 2016 grand total for Operational and Mission Budgets=$151,875, or $2921 per week.
June 6, 2016
Review of Goals:
- A Stewardship Drive was conducted by our finance team with the following results:
- 45 Giving Units
- 34 Pledges received
- Total dollars pledged=$53,774
This was the first pledge campaign undertaken by FPCPR in about 15 years, seeing 76% giving units returning pledges. The goal for annual giving should exceed $62,000, thereby meeting goal number one.
- Increase Pastor’s hours to half-time
Session and Presbytery approved the increase of the pastor’s hours to 25 per week and increased the salary commensurate with hours worked at the Presbytery minimum requirement. Added were increased home visits, a second worship service, a Wednesday night program to include worship and Bible Study. This goal has been met.
- Seek pastoral leadership for children’s and youth ministries
Due to the lack of funding, this goal is not being met.
- Increased food pantry and hot meal ministries.
A Sunday morning free breakfast is being planned as an outreach ministry. This goal has not yet been met, but there is a plan being discussed. Also, the Friday ministries have added a wellness support ministry.
Buildings and Grounds
The condition of our building continues to deteriorate. Although money was spent for a new air handler in the sanctuary, the system continues to need maintenance. Floor coverings in the fellowship hall need replacing, and most of the valves on the toilets need replacing. Lighting should be modernized. The outside signage needs replacing and landscaping needs refreshing. Cost estimates to bring the building up to modern standards exceed $75,000.
As of June 6, 2016, there is approximately $12,000 left in the checkbook and savings and investments have been depleted.
Despite the herculean efforts on the part of the session and volunteers, this ministry is not financially sustainable. Although membership is growing, members are not financially equipped to donate the necessary funds to execute this mission plan. Many are on fixed incomes, or are from at-risk populations experiencing poverty or some degree of food-insecurity.
FPCPR has seen a wonderful outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the lives of our members and members of the local community. This church has truly transitioned to a MISSIONAL CHURCH which largely finds its identity in ministering to the poor through its worship, healing, and feeding ministries.
The burden of maintaining a large, traditional church facility is too heavy a load for this small congregation to carry. An informal weekday worship service associated with the feeding ministry has outpaced in size the traditional Sunday morning worship service. Friday’s service sees upward of 60 people with Sunday’s attendance averaging in the low 30’s. However, income is dependent on the Sunday worship service, as the only means of fund-raising is the traditional offering plate collection.
- Start a Capital Campaign for building modernization
- An alternative site could be found that would accommodate the existing ministries of Sunday worship, Wednesday Bible Study/healing service, Friday informal worship, Friday hot meal service, food pantry, clothing closet, and wellness support.
- Could petition the Presbytery for the sale of the existing church facility with the proceeds being used to fund the mission of FPCPR in a new location with renewed emphasis on feeding the poor and healing the sick.
- Maintain current level of pastoral leadership
- Establish a thrift shop as a fund-raiser
- Apply for an Outreach Grant from Presbytery
August 15, 2016
The Session approved a plan to sell the building and move to an alternative site to continue the “Feed the People” ministry that is at the heart of FPCPR’s calling and ministry. It is the primary mission of the Church to reach our neighbors with the Good News of Jesus Christ through feeding the poor and the hungry of our community. All efforts will be directed toward that end.
A motion to sell the facility and execute this mission plan will be brought to a Called Congregational Meeting on Sunday, August 28, 2016 at 11:30 AM. A Town Hall meeting will be held on August 21, 2016 to distribute this mission plan and answer questions.
August 28, 2016: A motion was brought by the Session to sell the existing Church property, and to execute this mission plan. The vote was unanimous. This decision will be sent to the Presbytery of Tampa Bay for vote at its November 2016 meeting.
Request a bridge loan from Presbytery in the amount of $35,000 to cover the facility costs, to be paid back upon the sale of the property at 7540 Ridge Road, Port Richey, Florida.
OVERVIEW OF OUR MISSION
We at First Presbyterian believe that one of our duties as followers of Jesus Christ is to care for our fellow human beings without prejudice of race, creed, color, national origin, ideology, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. As disciples of Jesus Christ we welcome to our community all who struggle in this human venture.
The Bible records a story where Jesus fed a multitude of hungry people with only five loaves and two fishes. Jesus performed a miracle! Whether he literally divided the loaves and fishes, or convinced others to give of their own hoarded food, a miracle was brought about on that plain in ancient Israel. We at First Presbyterian believe that a miracle is happening in our midst too. Our mission is as follows:
THE COMMUNITY WE SERVE
Within a five mile radius of the church there are 70,000 people living is this small Florida Gulf community. The average median FAMILY income is under $40K with households made up of several generations of families sharing resources. Our primary user of the Food Pantry, is a 20 something single mother with one to three children. Our schools serve free or reduced meals to 80% of enrolled children.
THE SHOPPING EXPERIENCE
Our Shopping Experience has been in operation for 19 months, open once a week, and we have given out 36,210 pounds of food that has feed 5,499 people at a cost of $13,948! People are welcomed to come and choose the items they like to eat and are given several well-balanced nutritional meals every visit.
COMMUNITY FAMILY MEAL
In conjunction with the food distribution ministry, First Presbyterian Church of Port Richey, Florida, also serves a weekly hot meal to the community. All are invited and no one has to prove a need. We feed all who come to our door. To date, we have served over 2,805 hot meals free of charge.
We have all heard the saying, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime”. This is also part of our work. When people come in, they not only receive necessities like hot meals, groceries, and clothing, they receive benefit through our partnering with other helping agencies and governmental services. We have contacts with Metropolitan Ministries, Volunteer Way, Feed America, and other non-profits where folks can get help searching for a job, becoming self-sufficient, receive educational benefits, and help for addictions.
Last but not least, we are equipped to address the spiritual and pastoral needs of all who come for food. Under the guidance of The Rev. Dr. Jeffrey G. Guild, a retired Air Force Chaplain and Presbyterian Church (USA) minister, volunteers are available to be with those in need. Our volunteers receive some training to equip them to listen, pray, and recognize referral needs.
We believe that religion is a personal choice, and people are free to partake of our counseling, prayer, and worship services as offered, and food is in no way contingent on attending a worship service or hearing a sermon.
God has more for us to do. I appeal to you to join with us in this important ministry. Consider a donation to The Shopping Experience (the Community Family Meal is fully funded due to the generosity of Metropolitan Ministries of Tampa, Florida and others). You can click the donation page on our website and contribute to this ministry.
WHAT WE NEED
We need funds to buy groceries to stock our food pantry for the summer months. We purchase food from a cooperative food bank called “Feed America, Tampa Bay” and from local grocery stores. One hundred percent of your donations will be used for food to feed our community. None of the donations to The Shopping Experience will be used to fund Church activities.
Stories of Faith
I have been abundantly blessed my entire life. Born and raised a Presbyterian, I attended church regularly from the time I could walk alone. Sunday school at First Presbyterian on Staten Island then adult worship at Cavalry Presbyterian. But I needed more; I wanted to do His work here on earth. I started going to Evangelical churches, even toyed with the idea of converting to Greek Orthodoxy. But still, I felt unfulfilled.
Then I happened upon First Presbyterian church of Port Richey. I felt at home, immediately. I started volunteering, and working to assist the church in any way I could, but still, something was missing. Then the Rev. Jeffery Guild was sent to us. He and our session, of which I am a part, decided we were going to be “Inwardly Strong and Outwardly Focused”. Honestly, I didn’t know what was meant by that, but I do now.
It all really started with our food pantry to help feed the hungry in our community. That was outwardly focused. We started small, more volunteers than clients, but as word spread, we have grown. We now feed dozens and dozens of families every week. Tons of food has been donated by our congregation, and the good people of Trinity Presbyterian, who I might add, also volunteer at our church.
Once the pantry was established, we looked to expand. Again, outwardly focused. In conjunction with Metropolitan Ministries, we have a community lunch on Fridays, free to all who are hungry. Dozens volunteer. Some from other committees in our church who were moved by the Holy Spirit, like Roslyn Linnen who chairs the Discipleship and Member Care committee. My own mother, Shirley, was moved to volunteer at the Friday lunch (at the young age of 78).
Still more has grown out of the food pantry. We have a Sharing Boutique where our brothers and sisters in Christ can get like-new clothing.
The most exciting new project involved the Pasco county public defender’s office. They brought to our church a mobile triage center. People, who had no insurance, now receive medical care at no cost. RE Allan Love
I was in Christian home and accepted Christ when I was 13 years old. In Michigan I was divorced in 1978 and raised my two children the best I could with the Lord’s help.
I kept them involved in activities to keep them busy. I join Parents Without Partners and regional president was involved in public speaking dealing with raising child as a single parent and giving support to those in need. After I retired from UPS I came to Florida and attended the First Presbyterian Church of Port Richey because that was where mom attending.
I was asked in February of 2015 if I was interested in working with Nomar Otero in the food pantry. Working in the food pantry can be intense at times but we try to help each client in some way, one on one . It is rewarding to me that I can help in this way.
I just wanted to help some people and share the love of our Lord. The Lord has blessed us in the food pantry. Clients are not only being blessed through their stomachs, but spiritually. They come early for worship service and stay after the pantry for fellowship with us and each other. They express how they find love and comfort in our church. Some of our clients volunteer to help us work in the pantry. As a result some have joined our church. The number of clients in the last five months has doubled compared to last year from 390 to 687. Not only do our clients feel blessed but I do too. The Lord is good. RE Diane Griffin
I moved to New Port Richey from Chicago to care for my mother. I became friends with Dolores Griffin who I thought was my neighbor. She told me I would be great friends with her daughter, Diane Griffin who was my actual neighbor. When Diane came down from Michigan, we became close friends and began our journey looking for our church family. We visited FPCPR for their blessing of the pets, and were invited to Church Services the following Sunday, where I fell in love and became a member in 2015.
I was asked by Allan Love if I would be willing to volunteer for the food pantry. My answer was yes! Within the first year of working there we re-organized and tweaked protocols in order to provide quality service to all of our clients. Working in the food pantry has brought me closer to God in ways I never expected. It has filled my soul with gladness and my life with purpose. RE Nomar Otero
I converted from Catholicism because as a practicing Catholic, I never felt the Holy Spirit in my life. I became a member of FPCPR after my husband, Donald, and I renewed our wedding vows. As Catholic, we were unable to marry in the Church, as both of us were previously divorced. We were married by a justice of the peace and wanted our marriage blessed.
As a Presbyterian, I enjoyed the fellowship of the congregation, became an Elder, and Clerk of Session. I love the Presbyterian faith and being an active member of our Church. I was deeply moved and felt blessed to be a part of our mission program and oversee the meal-site program with Robert Bierly. It is a blessing to partner with Metropolitan Ministries to provide a hot meal to our guests every Friday. There are no words to express the humility and love in helping those less fortunate. Our guests are loving and grateful and truly exemplify the love of our savior. I am humbled and grateful to have the opportunity to share the love of our Savior, as well as food and fellowship with the members of our community. So many guests arrive early to join in our Worship Service, and many join us in song and prayer. Never have I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit as I do during our Friday Worship Service.
With the changes we are now experiencing, I see this as an opportunity to expand our mission ministry, and share the love of our Savior with even more people. In my heart I know that our Savior, through the Holy Spirit, is leading us forward, and I am excited to follow where He leads us! RE Michele Salerno
I came to this church in 2008 and became a member shortly after the birth of my daughter in 2010. She has been baptized in this church and has been here on a regular basis since she has been 3 days old. Everyone one here has got to watch her grow and my daughter who is 6 now has gotten to become close to many of the people here and knows almost all of them by name. She loves coming to the church every Sunday as do I, we are like one big family here. In the last year I have organized a sharing boutique which is part of our Friday mission. It’s a place where you can come in and help yourself to clothes, shoes, hats, purses, etc. In the year I’ve been in the boutique I’ve seen people so thankful to be able to have a chance to get clothes cause they have only what they have on that day. I started with one table in a room and now have many racks of clothes all from people donating. I have turned the boutique over to another member of the church and I have moved into the food pantry where I am moved every week by the people who come through and are so grateful for what we do. I love all the new people I have come to meet every Friday. My daughter also loves to help out in the food pantry!!! RE Julie Kovar
FROM CLOSURE TO COMMUNITY: THE MISSIONAL STORY OF FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF PORT RICHEY
In the summer of 2013 I was asked by our Presbytery leadership to serve as Stated Supply pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Port Richey, FL. It was understood that I would serve that congregation as they began the painful process of closing the Church. Here is my story.
On one hot and humid Florida August I was playing golf when my cell phone rang. I was expecting a call from FPCPR, so I violated my own golf-course rules of etiquette and answered the call. The call was from the clerk of session. Would I come to Port Richey? Before I could answered her question, the clerk recited a litany of woes about First Pres. She asked me to come to help them to close in an orderly and pastoral way as the membership had so declined as to make any future prospects for growth improbable.
Much to her surprise, I accepted the invitation, or should I say challenge, and was invited to a session meeting the following week. I felt like I was cast in the role of the “closer.” It seemed that I was going to serve this church not as a pastor, but as a hospice chaplain.
At the session meeting elders expressed discouragement. They were resigned to the reality that they could not pay their bills. Yet there lingered a small spark of hope. One of the elders in attendance spoke of FPCPR’s glorious past and professed a desire to see the church not only survive, but flourish. I asked the session if they were willing to do all it required to “save” the church. “What does that mean,” one asked? “Sell everything and give all to the poor,” was my reply. I told them it meant that they might have to sell all that was holding them back from ministry including that which meant the most to them, their building. There was no immediate response, so I suggested we take two weeks to think and pray over this matter.
After the passing of two weeks I met with the session at the church. They were ready to engage! Statements like, “the church is the congregation not the building,” and “we want to stay together,” and “we want to serve God” were music this pastor’s ears.
During the first six months as stated supply our main focus was prayer. We meet weekly for prayer, opened every meeting with an extended time of prayer, began session meetings with a half-hour time of worship and prayer, and elevated the importance of prayer in the Sunday liturgy.
Gradually, our mission emerged. God was calling us to reach out to our poor, hungry, and homeless neighbors with a feeding ministry. The church had a small cupboard of canned goods that the church secretary distributed in shopping bags to whomever knocked on the door. It was decided to build on that and start a food-pantry. The pantry soon blossomed into an entire room of groceries. Shelves were built, and with the purchase of freezers, we were well on the way to a full-service feeding ministry. We were selected by Tampa’s Metropolitan Ministries as a West Pasco County meal site partner and began serving meals every week. Bags of donated clothes morphed into a clothing boutique.
The food pantry developed into a grocery store-like experience, with guests choosing their own well-balanced food with the help of our shopping partners. Over 60 meals were delivered to us by Met-Ministries, and all were encouraged to use the clothing boutique liberally.
After a year, several of our guests asked me to lead them in a short worship service. This simple request developed into an informal worship service serving over 50 worshippers every Friday morning.
As of this writing, the “Feed the People” ministry of First Presbyterian Church of Port Richey Florida has become our primary mission. This ministry is supported by: Trinity Presbyterian Church of Seven Springs (a church this congregation planted 25 years ago), the Presbytery of Tampa Bay, Metropolitan Ministries, the Shepherd Center of Tarpon Springs, Volunteer Way of Port Richey, and by the generous donations by our members and friends. This helps us to support our neighbors, the homeless, veterans, the Runaway Alternatives Program of Youth and Family Alternatives, Inc., the Healthy Start Coalition of Pasco, and many other smaller initiatives.
FPCPR has found its identity, purpose and future in this mission. The congregation is ready to heed Jesus’ words and “sell everything and give it to the poor.” The building in which this ministry is housed is eating up most of the available resources that could be channeled toward our calling to care for our neighbors. Many of these neighbors have now become members of the church and share in this vision. Many have found a diverse community of hope and caring in the Friday worship time and lunch. So we are now seeking God’s leading and believe we are to move to a more affordable and functional building to house our Church and its newly envisioned mission. Two worship services are offered weekly, a monthly healing service, prayer service, and a Bible study have been added to the program. In place of a defeated congregation, one can now find a group of people who seek to serve our Lord Jesus Christ and his kingdom. There has indeed been great movement FROM CLOSURE TO COMMUNITY
TE Jeffrey G. Guild
Tarpon Springs, Florida