Highland Park Presbyterian Church in Lewistown, PA, was one of three congregations awarded with a $500 grant from the Synod of the Trinity after submitting a photo or video showing how it celebrated the Synod’s 300th birthday on Sept. 17, 2017. Below is an overview of how the congregation is using the grant, as written by pastor Helen Kester.
Highland Park is a small church with 33 members on the roll. We have an average attendance of 20 in worship. Over the last four years we have endeavored to be intentional about reaching out into our community. After some walks around our community, we identified children of parents working for minimum wage as the place where God was calling us to meet a need. Four years ago we had a back-to-school event. Through donations and partnering with the Kiwanis we were able to give out almost 500 book bags to children in our neighborhood. We also collected gently-used clothing that parents could take at no cost. Games, refreshments and a time of fellowship were also provided.
From that beginning we have started to build other opportunities for families and the congregation to form relationships. Our after-school program on Monday evening provides a meal, Bible lesson, games and a safe place for children. Through the grant from the Synod we have started a once-a-month Family Night. Parents, the community and the members of the church are invited to share a meal with the after-school youth and children at 5:30 on Monday evening. We have also started a once-a-month Family Activity night on Sunday evenings. This event is open to the youth and their families and the community.
The congregation is feeling blessed to hear the sound of children in our building and to sit and talk with their parents. We are looking forward to baptizing two new Christians and welcoming them as members on Easter Sunday. The anniversary grant provided a boost that is reaping far greater rewards than the size of the grant would indicate. Thank you from the members, friends and session of Highland Park Presbyterian Church.