The church is called to mission. As God has sent Jesus into the world, so Jesus sends us (John 20: 21). "By the Holy Spirit all who believe and are baptized receive a ministry to witness to Jesus as Savior and Lord and to love and serve those with whom they live and work" (RCA Liturgy). We are called to serve others in the name of Christ by caring for the suffering, relieving the oppressed, proclaiming the message of reconciliation, working for justice, and sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ.
From the goal statements
The current food pantry is a continuation of the centuries-old custom of taking care of widows, orphans and the homeless through the Deacons Fund since the reformation in the 1500’s. It serves people in the neighborhood and is managed by a Community Outreach Worker with the help of volunteers. Last year, the food pantry served 361households, many of them several times.
Monthly supplies of food and other grocery store essentials, such as diapers and toothpaste, are distributed. Other programs, such as “Back-to-School-Night”, “Mitten Tree”, “Christmas Shoppe” and “Thanksgiving Basket” minister to children and families around the holidays and other special times of the year.
Food Pantry Hours
Monday and Wednesday
9:00 -11:30 a.m.
Call Church Office for Inquiries
The Neighborhood Counseling Center at First Church in Albany
Adult residents in the First Church neighborhood are offered free pastoral counseling with retired pastoral counselor, Ross Westhuis. Hours are Wednesdays 9 am-Noon. Stop in or call for an appointment: 463-4449.
Urban Day Camp
This one-week Summer Bible School is organized with support staff from Camp Fowler, the regional RCA summer camp. The Urban Day Camp is held at First Church and provides opportunities for children to enjoy games, crafts, learning, worship, and nature study. Many of the programs take place outside the building. First Church has a small park where a tent is setup to accommodate this fun event.
Program Participants pay on a sliding scale. The program attracts both neighborhood children as well as First Church youth group members.
This past summer the Youth Missions Group traveled to Scranton, PA, from July 27 to August 3, to help with home repairs. Our youth participated with approximately 400 other youth and advisors from many different churches and different denominations across the country.
CROP Hunger Walk
First Church members participate in the annual CROP hunger walk, a national fundraising event organized by the Church World Services which distributes the proceeds to local food pantries and to international relief efforts. www.churchworldservice.org
FCA hosts a weekly AA meeting in the church parlor on Wednesdays at 12:00 noon.
Visit www.aaalbany.org for more information.
Albany Overflow Shelter for Men
First Church supports the Albany Emergency Overflow Shelter run by the Capital Area Council of Churches. We provide one to two meals a month for the clients. This wintertime shelter accommodates up to 20 homeless men. www.capareachurches.org
Equinox Thanksgiving Program
Each year a First Church workgroup helps out with the food preparation for the Equinox Thanksgiving Dinner. This event feeds those of limited income as well as persons looking for dinner company on this holiday. www.equinoxinc.org.
Arbor Hill Elementary School Collaborative Projects
First Church members and clergy read on a regular basis with students; Breakfast for the Teachers; School supplies for the classrooms; post-service updates with school administration.
Christmas and Easter Offerings
Special offerings are received at the Easter and Christmas worship services. This money is distributed to local and/or global charities. In the past this has included: Capital City Rescue Mission (homeless shelter), children’s nutrition in Honduras, Habitat for Humanity, etc.
First Church supports, together with other RCA churches, Richard and Carol Otterness who serve the Roma people (also known as Gypsies) in Eastern Europe. We also support Bruce and Laurie Hawley who help facilitate volunteer work groups working with RCA mission partners around the world.
Kibera Bone Jewelry Project
First Church in Albany has established a personal relationship with the Kibera Bone Jewelry Project, a self-help group of widows and single mothers who live in the largest slum in Kenya. They make fashion jewelry and other small items from bones discarded by local butchers. Because no middle men are involved, all proceeds after taxes, go directly to the project, which pays the women a salary so that they can become independent and regain their dignity. The project has also established an elementary school and provides advice to the adult population.
For a recent video, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z70XhixIf2g&feature=colike
First Church encourages its members to be involved in other mission activities, such as: Church World Service, Bread-for-the-World, National Religious Campaign Against Torture, the Israel-Palestinian Peace Initiative, the yearly Ecumenical Advocacy Days in Washington D.C., and many other programs. Rev. Paarlberg and his wife have participated in a Christian Peacemaker Team. Read their reports here and here.