By Lynette Sparks, Sept. 15, 2016
It’s not unusual for me to receive phone calls from individuals in the community who need resources for food, or clothing, or housing. I got such a call today, but the caller wasn’t calling about herself; she was calling to assist someone else – someone she’d recently met, a person who was homeless, taking shelter in an abandoned house. The best I could do was refer her to local agencies that have social services staff trained and equipped to provide that specialized guidance and assistance. And I happily did that.
What struck me about this particular caller was her compassion for the woman in need. You see, she herself had been homeless at one time. She knew what it was like. She knew the challenges of staying in a shelter. She knew the difficulties of carrying all of your belongings everywhere you go. She had walked in her shoes once, and now she was walking beside her. I thanked the caller for her care and concern for the one who was now in great need. And I was the one blessed by this phone call.
Why Outreach? Because the ones we seek to serve are the ones who, in fact, show us the way to abundant life – and all through a simple phone call.
RAIHN@Third’s online volunteer signup is live for our 46th rotation! starting August 28th ― which, yes, includes Labor Day weekend.
We have important spots to fill:
- hot breakfast
- overnight hosting
as well as
- Day Center spots
How to Sign Up
1. You can sign up HERE.
(After YOU sign up you can invite a friend to join you by email. And, please consider including your children/teens with you for hosting dinners; this is a wonderful family mission.)
2. Phone Lou or Laurie if you can’t get online (see phone numbers below).
Some very important news:
- We welcome our newest support partner Temple B’rith Kodesh (TBK) to our team. Their enthusiasm for this anti-homelessness mission is inspiring!
- The plan is to pair new volunteers with tenured ones, and we’ve created “greeter” roles for our newest volunteers during the dinner spot. New volunteers may also opt to “shadow” experienced ones to try this mission out for personal fit.
- We will hold a special RAIHN training session for our newest volunteers, and all who would like a refresher, after this fast-coming August rotation – sometime in September (date TBD). RAIHN “certification” is critical to all client-facing (“hosting”) roles. Additionally, we are planning a luncheon later this fall for the entire team.
- As always, please send your questions to
Only together will we meet our goal of providing a good night’s rest in a safe place where we share healthy meals — served up with kindness, acceptance, warmth, and compassion.
Third Church, through action of the Anti-Gun Violence Advocacy Team, is joining the recently formed Rochester Coalition for Reasonable Gun Laws. We have already done some work with the coalition on several occasions, so this recognizes our partnership in a more formal way, as we seek to be part of the solution to the scourge of gun violence.
The cost to our community from gun violence is devastating in both economic and human costs. Yet too little is being done to address it, and when it is, it is met with fierce opposition. The status quo is unsustainable, yet we are people of hope, and believe that change is possible. As a member of this coalition, we are joining other local organizations, including New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, the Interfaith Alliance of Rochester, and the Rochester Chapter of the Brady Campaign, to create that change. We plan to explore areas such as the exact extent of gun violence in our communities, determine how we got here and how it can change.
The coalition plans to host periodic programs of public education based upon facts and research, identify changes to laws from the local to national levels that would effectively address gun violence, and advocate for such changes. We want to move forward and away from accepting gun violence as the norm. If you would like to know more, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I can just hear the great Ella Fitzgerald’s voice belting out the tune, and in one sense, the pace of Third Church Outreach does slow down to a little easier pace. We have fewer formal organizing meetings, and our tutoring programs in the schools are on vacation for the summer.
But because needs arising from urban poverty don’t go away in the summer, our outreach ministries press on, full steam ahead (temperatures not withstanding!). People are still hungry, and visit the Food Cupboard and Dining Room Ministry. We’ve incorporated a bunch of new volunteers to help meet the summer needs – thanks to all who have stepped up to help!. And the East Avenue Grocery Run planning team is up and running (pun intended) to prepare for a great hunger-fighting run on November 5.
People are still homeless, and we will host another RAIHN rotation of homeless families beginning August 29. Our friends at Temple B’rith Kodesh are joining with us to help provide volunteers. We are so excited about this growing collaboration in service to the community.
We still have a segregated school system, and the work of Great Schools for All and its Breakthrough Schools proposal has gained a great deal of momentum in the last couple of months. You can learn all the latest and offer your support at www.gs4a.org.
And plans are now underway for another trip to New Orleans from October 17-21 to continue the post-Katrina rebuilding. More information will be forthcoming soon!
There’s a way for everyone to contribute to the outreach ministries of Third Church in some way, large or small. Contact me to explore the possibilities!
(585) 271-6513 ext. 106
Taking Notes in the garden
Another day in the garden begins
(Photos courtesy of Linc Spaulding)
This has been a very good growing season at the Calvary St. Andrews Community Garden – a Foodlink garden that donates all produce to the Foodlink Food Cupboard at CSA as well as the Mobile Food Pantry at CSA. Last year the garden produced almost 1,200 pounds of fresh produce – greens, tomatoes, cukes, carrots, beets, beans, peppers, and more. Free, fresh produce for clients that often don’t have access to it.
This year we hope to improve on our output, and so far, it looks promising (see the photos). Lead Gardeners Judy Bennett, Michael Orman, and Tracy Walker are always looking for volunteers to help water, weed, harvest, and replant.
If you have some time to volunteer, and like spending time in the garden, we hope that you will consider joining us.
Discerning The Future
Calvary St. Andrews building
Presbytery has empaneled an Administrative Commission to discerning what the future will be for the Calvary St. Andres congregation and building. The church has a long history of involvement in the social justice issues in the community and the food ministry continues to be a crucial source of food for many living in the South Wedge.
But dwindling membership has left the congregation in a difficult situation. There are too few members to support a clergy position. Nor can they cover the costs involved in maintaining an old (very beautiful) church.
So … what to do?
The Administrative Commission has been looking at various options. Now they are looking for neighborhood input.
Open House and Information Session
An Open House will be held on Tuesday evening, June 28, 2016 from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM. Everyone is invited. From 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM – wander around and explore the sanctuary, chapel, offices, and classrooms. 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM hear what the process of discernment is, where we have been, where we are, and how we will proceed from here.
If you are curious … come look around.
If you have a comment or suggestion … come share it.
We would love to have as much input as possible. Calvary St. Andrews has been a vital part of the South Wedge for over 150 years, and we hope it will continue to serve the community for another 150 years. Come join us in the journey.
To many the summer is a difficult time
The world of Third Church Outreach ministries is never dull! A quick recap of the latest developments :
- Our tutoring programs at Schools #3, #35, and East High are approaching the end of the program year. Sue Maddock will be retiring from her position as tutor coordinator at School #3, and we will be honoring her faithful service at the 10:45am worship service on Sunday, May 15. We’ve hired Deb Bishop as the new tutor coordinator for School #3, and she is working with Sue this month to transition the leadership smoothly. We’ll share more about both Sue and Deb in future Outreach blogs this spring!
- And do check out the Breakthrough Schools proposal of Great Schools for All (GS4A), which is a crucial part of our advocacy for equity in public education in Monroe County through socioeconomic integration. You can download the proposal at Breakthrough-Schools.pdf.
- We celebrated the 25th anniversary of Dining Room Ministry in April with both our Saturday guests and in both Sunday worship services. Now we are discerning how to deepen this ministry for the next 25 years. How do we build deeper relationships with our guests, and become one beloved community?
- Consider purchasing a ticket for a Dining Room Ministry guest to the Taste of Texas youth fundraiser to be held May 15, 2016 at noon, so that we may fellowship together!
- Our next RAIHN (Rochester Area Interfaith Hospitality Network) rotation of hosting homeless families begins May 29, 2016. Both face-to-face and behind-the-scenes volunteer opportunities are available.
- I recently attended the PC(USA)’s Compassion, Peace, and Justice Day along with Ecumenical Advocacy Days in Washington, DC. I look forward to sharing a dedicated blog post about the events’ focus on justice issues of race, class, and power, and thinking about what that means for our own Rochester context. My experience culminated with visits with the staffs of Congresswoman Louise Slaughter and Senator Chuck Schumer to advocate for expanded voting rights and humanitarian considerations in trade agreements.
As we approach the end of the program year, we also realize that the needs of many of our neighbors don’t go away in the summertime. And so our Outreach ministries continue on without interruption. I hope you will match your own particular passions with programs that we offer to meet real and persistent community needs – all in response to the great love shown to us by God in Jesus Christ.
Grace and peace!
Lynette K. Sparks, Associate Pastor for Outreach & Evangelism