LOUISVILLE - "Nancy," is a single mother of two children living in Portland, Oregon. Determined to better their life, she began to find a way off public assistance with a part-time job.
She enrolled her children in an after-school ministry of Piedmont Presbyterian Church that provides homework help and a safe place for children while their parents work. The program, called Piedmont Outreach with Educational Resources (POWER), is supported by the Pentecost Offering, one of four special offerings of the Presbyterian Church (USA). The Pentecost Offering will be received on Pentecost Sunday, June 8.
With the Pentecost Offering, congregations keep 40% of what they receive to help children at risk in their community. The remaining 60% is used by the PC(USA) General Assembly to support youth and young adult ministries and programs that benefit children at risk in the United States and around the world.
Piedmont Presbyterian uses their portion of the Pentecost Offering to help fund its POWER program. Adult, middle, and high school volunteers from the congregation work as part of the POWER staff.
"It has given Piedmont a sense of purpose and vital connection with the community. It is not unusual for children who have been part of the after-school program to return to volunteer themselves," says Pastor Sarah Coakley.
"Nancy" now has a full-time job with health benefits, opportunities to take classes that will lead to higher pay, and a well-deserved feeling of accomplishment. Savings in childcare have allowed the family to put aside enough money to move from their one bedroom apartment into a house of their own.
"Nancy's" story and the ministry of Piedmont Presbyterian are only two examples of success. Many congregations are using their portion of the Pentecost Offering to make a difference in the lives of children at risk in their communities.
But there's room for growth. Only in its sixth year, the Pentecost Offering is currently received by eleven percent of PC(USA) congregations. Billie Healy, project manager for the Offering, wants that figure to rise to 15% for 2003. "Local congregations want to be more involved in their communities, especially when it comes to helping children. The Pentecost Offering is a wonderful way for them to make that vision a reality," said Healy.
Pentecost Offering packets were scheduled to be mailed to congregations at the end of February. To order additional materials, call (800) 524-2612. Many resources can be downloaded from the offering's Web site: www.pcusa.org/pentecost.
By Albert H. Lee