Luke 4:18 and 19 are the verses Jesus uses to introduce himself and his ministry in the world: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
We have used these verses to inspire and guide us as we follow Jesus’ example here in and around Evanston and Chicago. The opportunities below represent our long term commitment to love God and love our neighbor. Weekly commitments to serve are not necessary. But we do invite you to fully engage in the relationships that come from serving alongside others, and getting to know the people we serve. One volunteer has said “All I do is show up each week. I’m there for the guests and they are there for me. I’m the one who is blessed.”
Ongoing Opportunities to Serve:
Souper Saturday is the embodiment of a vision and ministry of faithful long-term members who wanted to serve a meal to those that don’t have a home or are struggling to have food, as if it were served in their own homes. Come to help prepare a home cooked meal on Fridays between 9:00 and 11:00 AM, to be served at First Presbyterian’s Saturday lunch for our homeless and food insecure guests. And/or join other church and community volunteers in serving that prepared lunch on Saturdays at First Presbyterian. No need to know how to cook! Contact Kris Economos or Barb Spencer.
Centered on children, both those who have parents that are incarcerated or are themselves in the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center, these ministries work with children and youth in very difficult circumstances. The volunteers all have a love for children, and a passion to help them experience a different kind of life – filled with love, joy and hope. A number of the volunteers have come to know these children over the years. They have become a real part of the children’s lives. Opportunities to serve include: Saturday Family Visits: Drive and/or accompany children to visit their incarcerated mothers at several of the Illinois Prisons. This ministry works with Lutheran Social Services to know the children in need of that chance to visit their moms. (Drivers with Commercial Drivers License are also needed) Saturday Surprise: Serving the same group of children whose mothers are in prison, volunteers go on an outing with the children and their caregivers six Saturdays a year, for a day of fun. Outings are to places such as the zoo, the library, or the library that these children might never experience otherwise. Cook County Juvenile Detention Center: This is a time when people from First Presbyterian go together to participate in Sunday worship, small group time and prayer with incarcerated youth between the ages of 10 to 18 years old, three times a year. It is moving time where you can experience and learn about the challenges of these young people. It can be a discerning time to determine if you want to be more involved in the future. (Orientation is provided). Contact Peter Steffen.
Good News Partners New Life Interim Housing
A number of years ago we spent a month where many of the congregation got involved serving with our partners in the area. Out of that emerged a group of volunteers from First Presbyterian and other churches who have immersed themselves through creative activities at the New Life temporary housing shelter in Chicago – a five minute drive from First Presbyterian – four times a week. We show God’s love for the children up to age 13, and their mothers at the shelter. Good News Partners, of which New Life is a part, is a significant partner of our church since their beginning. Their mission is “to end homelessness and hopelessness to everyone God brings to us” is a wonderful place to give your time.
The weekly activities include: Music Club on Tuesdays from 6:15 to 7:15PM: Led by an experienced music teacher, we sing songs, do movement, and learn the basics of rhythm and melody with the kids. You don’t have to be the next Rachmaninoff to join us. Activities Night on Thursdays from 6:30 to 7:45: We tutor and help the older kids with homework. We do puzzles, games and crafts with the younger ones. Boys and Girls Club on Saturdays. This is normally from 9AM to noon. In the summer time, we go to parks, beaches and other outdoor places. In the winter, we go to the FPCE gym, the Evanston library, and other indoor places. About once a month we go on a longer trip to a museum or zoo, or other venues like the Willis Tower; we invite the mothers on these trips (we even go camping once a year!). These clubs are so important because of the role models our volunteers play in the children’s lives. Contact Tom Alrich at 630-277-1182 Creative Hanging Out on Wednesdays from 6:00 to 7:30PM: We do games, crafts and puzzles with the kids, and in the summers play outside. Contact Catherine Potts .
On the second Wednesday of each month from 9:00-11:00 a.m. we gather together here at First Presbyterian, to pray specifically for our Mission Partners around the world. This is the place where we hear and pray for the details of the work, as well as the lives of the mission partners. We hear regularly from partners serving in very dangerous situations – including those where violence is ongoing and/or Christians are persecuted. These partners tell us often that it is the prayer that makes all the difference in their lives. It also expresses the love we have for these partners and those they serve. Join us and get to know our missionaries as we support them in prayer. You may come to silently pray in unison with us, or to voice your prayers for others. Contact Ron Ehresman
Saturday Deacons’ Clothes Closet
The deacons organize the closet but help is needed throughout the week. Guests are served every 1st and 3rd Saturday of the month. Gently used clothing, shoes, sheets, towels, suitcases and other items are made available to our guests. We purchase new toiletries, underwear, socks and wool hats for distribution as well. Here is a list of the items needed:
- Plus sized clothing for women – size 2X, 3X, 5X
- Warm men’s clothing, outerwear and shoes
- Winter Coats and Boots, for both men and women
All clean usable donations are accepted, during normal front desk hours of Monday – Thursday 8am-10pm; Friday 8am-5pm; Saturday & Sunday 8am-3pm. A letter of donations for tax purposes will be provided. For questions about making a donation, contact the church office at 847/864-1472.
We knit prayer shawls or scarves or whatever you like for those in need at our church and elsewhere. All levels of experience are welcome, even those who have never knit before. Bring a project or start one with us. Projects change as we become more aware of needs such as scarves for those in the Warming Center, children’s sweaters that are distributed by World Vision, and crocheted necklaces for the Congo education project. We welcome anyone interested in our projects to join us when we meet at the church or to knit independently for our projects. We are able to supply yarn and needles, great fellowship with prayer time and treats. First Fridays: 12:00 p.m.–2:00 p.m. Third Saturdays: 12:00 p.m.– 2:00 p.m. All gatherings are at the church in Room 206. Feel free to bring a sack lunch!
Annual or Seasonal Opportunities to Serve:
First Presbyterian Church is part of a consortium of shelters in Evanston that seeks to care for our homeless neighbors, giving them a safe and warm place to spend time and experience a friendly atmosphere during the winter months each year. Be present for one of two shifts on Mondays between 3:30 and 7:00 pm, November through March at the Warming Center here at the church. We spend time talking to the guests, playing checkers with them, or sometimes are just a quiet presence. A Bible Study for the guests that want to participate is held each week. No experience is needed. Contact George Collins at 847.475.0226
The Backpack Project
The Backpack Project is a Deacon led back-to-school project each Fall, when we purchase backpacks over 50 backpacks and fill them with school supplies purchased through the generosity of congregation members. Needy children in our community go to school with all the supplies they need. Look for opportunities to participate in the late Summer.
The Angel Tree Project
The Angel Tree Project is a special Deacon Christmas project where, in conjunction with Prison Fellowship, we collect gifts on behalf of prison inmates for their children and host a Christmas party for the children and their families.