FIRST CHURCH FOOD PANTRY
Please consider a special gift to the First Church Food Pantry. Our requests for food have increased. A gift of cash or any non-perishable food item (examples: peanut butter, jelly, tuna, rice, hearty soup, beef stew, canned vegetables or fruit, juice, cereal, powdered milk) will enable First Presbyterian Church to continue helping at a time when the need is greater than has ever before experienced. Food items can be placed in the baskets located in the narthex, by the elevator or dropped off at the church office.
First Presbyterian has annually sent an inter-generational summer mission team to the state of Chiapas in México every year since 2007. There we have worked through Hebron USA with the Tzeltal-speaking indigenous people of the Tzeltal Synod of the National Presbyterian Church of México on a variety of construction projects including the multi-year construction of the new sanctuary in Ch’ixtontic and the construction of Dispensario Tzeltal Manos de Cristo, the medical clinic in Ocosingo, which opened in 2012. We have developed strong relationships with the Presbyterian churches and people with whom we have lived and worked, one of the principal goals of cross-cultural mission trips. In addition, we have participated in three primary care medical mission trips to Manos de Cristo where American health care providers have worked alongside the resident Tzeltal physician treating indigenous people from the surrounding areas. During the last two medical mission trips we partnered with physicians and students from Eastern Virginia Medical School (“EVMS”). In 2018 we also conducted a fundraising campaign that raised over $62,500 for capital needs at Manos de Cristo.
In 2019 we will take a one-year sabbatical from our summer construction mission trip to Chiapas. In the planning stages are another medical mission trip in conjunction with EVMS in the spring of 2020 and an inter-generational construction trip in the summer of 2020.
Members and friends who have participated in these trips through the years have experienced the strong Christian faith of indigenous peoples and thereby strengthened their own faith. It is in the Developing World where Christianity currently experiences its greatest growth. The trips have helped spiritually equip church members and friends for service in Virginia Beach and elsewhere closer to home. These trips are a tangible expression of following Jesus’ great commandment to love one’s neighbor as they love themselves.
In October, 2018 First Presbyterian sponsored its first mission trip to Cuba through the Cuba Partners Network (“CPN”) of Presbyterian World Missions. Eleven people lived at the Presbyterian Church in San Nicolás, Cuba, a small town located east of La Habana. The group also had the opportunity to visit the seminary in Matanzas and to visit the city of La Habana. The primary focus of this trip was relationship building with the faithful Christians of that church whose faith has remained strong despite former years of adversity for the Christian church in Cuba. We ate with, worshipped with and recreated with the members of that congregation, including the youth. We conducted three days of Vacation Bible School and spent countless hours in one-on-one conversations with many members.
The Presbyterian Church (USA) has been involved in the life of the Cuban Presbyterian churches since the early 1900s. We are a covenant partner with the church in San Nicolás. Our church will send another mission group to San Nicolás in the fall of 2019 in furtherance of that relationship. We also hope to host Pastora Maricela González Rubio, pastor at San Nicolás, in Virginia Beach in June 2019 ahead of the annual meeting of the CPN.
It is important to understand that any formal relationship will be between Christian people in Cuba and in the United States. Relations between our respective governments remain strained as they have been for many years.
CUBA MISSION TRIP IN SEPTEMBER ON HOLD – On April 17, the administration announced new restrictions on travel to Cuba by American citizens. The Cuba Partners Network of Presbyterian World Missions, Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Director of Missions are evaluating the impact that these restrictions might have on religious mission travel to Cuba under 31 CFR 515.566, which permits Americans to engage in religious activities in Cuba without need of a special license. Planning for the September trip is currently suspended.
Randy DuVall, Director of Missions, firstname.lastname@example.org
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Contact Ivy Robinson with questions about online giving at 757-428-6332 ext. 224.