First Presbyterian Mission Team
The First Presbyterian Mission Team organized in 2006 in response to Hurricane Katrina. We connected with First Presbyterian Church, New Orleans, and were led to restore the home of one of its members who had no insurance, Henry Kleinfeldt. Our first mission team of approximately 20 individuals spent months planning, and then two weeks carrying out the plan to restore “Henry’s House.” New Orleans, LA 2006 (click to view)
We made a follow-up trip to continue work on Henry’s house and the church sanctuary during the summer of 2007, and determined that an annual mission trip to provide some kind of disaster or poverty relief was a vital part of the ministry of First Presbyterian Church in South Boston.
In 2008, we partnered with Davis Memorial Presbyterian Church in Gassaway, WV, through their program “Braxton Builders in Christ.” We spent the week making extensive repairs to the home of Josh and Rachel, so that it would be weather tight for the winter. This was our first experience with poverty relief as opposed to disaster relief. God grew us in a new way through our interaction with this young couple. Gassaway, WV 2008 (click to view)
In 2009, we returned to West Virginia, this time in partnership with the West Virginia Ministry of Advocacy and Workcamps (WVMAW). We were housed at First Presbyterian Church in Montgomery, where the town suffered with a 42% unemployment rate. For the first time, our team was split into smaller groups which worked in different locations. By the end of the week, we had served three families and were also able to complete a project at our host church so that they could better serve the community. Montgomery, WV 2009 (click to view)
The summer of 2010 took us to Hazard, Kentucky. Why? Because it sounded like a cool place to go! But in researching mission possibilities there, we found the Housing Development Alliance which housed groups at First Presbyterian Church in Hazard and needed folks just like us to help people in their community. We worked at two sites that week – one group made repairs to a mobile home belonging to an elderly woman and the other group worked on a new construction project for a young family, raising a house from the foundation to the roof trusses in just 5 days. Hazard, KY 2010 (click to view)
In 2010, our country and world saw many natural disasters – tornados, flooding, blizzards, earthquakes, even a tsunami. For our 2011 trip, we decided to seek out another opportunity for work with disaster relief, and through the Presbytery of Middle Tennessee we found that Davidson County still had over 100 people on a waiting list for help one year after the flooding that had occurred there. We signed on with Presbyterian Disaster Assistance for work out of Nashville and were housed at Second Presbyterian Church there. By week’s end, our team had served seven families and done a small job at our host church. Nashville, TN 2011 (click to view)
The 2012 mission trip took us back to West Virginia, partnering once again with WVMAW. Their ministry is a growing one, and the knowledge they have in managing groups and work makes for a very positive experience for both the workers and the families that are served. The team departed on July 8 and returned on July 14. Summerlee, WV 2012 (click to view)
Our 2013 mission trip took us back to West Virginia. WVMAW assigned our crew to work with the St. Paul Community and Economic Development Corp (SPCEDC). The SPCEDC, headed up by Pastor Mike Poke, is in its second year of a grassroots ministry to a local neighborhood known as Amandaville, just outside the St. Albans city limits. It is their mission to revitalize the approximately four-block area, and we did our part to help them reach their goal. St Albans, WV 2013 (click to view)
For our 2014 mission trip, we partnered with Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) and Episcopal Diocese of New York (EDNY) and traveled north. We were housed at the Presbyterian Church of Chatham Township, New Jersey and worked on Staten Island, New York, helping with the ongoing recovery efforts in the wake of “Superstorm” Sandy, which devastated the area in October of 2012. By the end of our week, we had worked on nine homes, from one end of Staten Island to the other. We leveled and rebuilt a subfloor, did insulation, sheetrock, mudding, priming, painting, tiling, and cabinet installation. Between all the jobs, we figure we essentially rebuilt an entire house, except for the roof!
Also in 2014, the church built a playhouse nicknamed “Sonshine Cottage” which the team delivered to a church on Staten Island. This mission outreach was a highlight of our trip!
In 2015, we decided to do things a little differently. We went in search of a location closer to home (in the state of Virginia) and found the Wild Goose Christian Community. During the week, we completed three main projects – a 24’x16′ stage with roof, a 25′ long handicap ramp and landscaping (Mission Prayer Flower Project) – along with quite a few extra jobs. Our mission was to help the Wild Goose Christian Community improve their facilities so that they can reach out to more unchurched people in Indian Valley and Floyd County. On Tuesday evening, we attended their weekly fellowship dinner and worship service, met many of the folks who have been attracted to this congregation, and experienced some of what they love about worshiping God in this non-traditional way. Before we headed home on Saturday, we attended the dedication of the stage as a part of the first annual Wild Goose-A-Palooza .
There are a thousand places we could go, and an infinite number of needs we could serve. We hope to be able to serve closer to home, here in Halifax County, and possibly even farther away in places like Haiti or Africa. We cannot fulfill all the needs, but we are convinced that the act of humbling ourselves to serve others in need, wherever it may be, is an important experience that we want to be sure our members have the opportunity be a part of.
For more information about becoming a part of the mission team, you can contact Kim Albert, firstname.lastname@example.org, or the church office.