Our Season of Giving is Ongoing: Introducing the Stroman Fund

By Pam Bush, Mission Committee Secretary

In 1989 FPC members John and Patricia Caldwell established the Stroman Fund with an initial gift of $500,000 given to the glory of God and in honor of the ministry of Dr. Richard Stroman who pastored the congregation for over thirty years. The endowment’s earnings above the initial gift are to be used to support mission work above and beyond the church’s yearly mission budget. Over the years Dr. George Goodrich and Dr. Stroman’s widow, Joan, would discuss with the Mission Committee Chairman the distribution of the funds. Currently the Mission Committee, chaired by Elder Ron Scheese, makes the decisions about distribution. Since its inception the Stroman Fund has distributed nearly $1,000,000 to advance the Gospel worldwide. Here are some of the distributions for 2015:

Missions$1,285 to Worldlink Ministries International for Nepal Relief
Worldlink Ministries International, located in Audubon, PA, links western churches and individuals with indigenous missionaries for an increased spread of the Gospel through the work of the missionaries. Worldlink currently has 236 supported missionaries, most living on $25-$200 per month. There were five Worldlink Nepalese missionaries needing assistance after the April earthquake. The membership of First Presbyterian gave $1215, and with the addition from the Trust, a total gift of $2500 was given.

$2,500 for Bob Lehman’s cataract surgeries
Bob and Debbie Lehman are Wycliffe Bible Translators missionaries in Manila, Philippines. Bob is a teacher for the missionary children at Faith Academy. The Lehmans asked for assistance so that Bob’s eyesight could be restored. Both surgeries were successful.

$11,250 for expenses on furlough and return to Kiev for Eide Family
Jon and Tracy Eide serve with Mission to the World planting churches in Kiev, Ukraine, and have been there since 1996. They visited First Presbyterian in January 2015 while home on a one year furlough. They needed $14,500 in extra gifts, mostly for airfare, tuition for their children, and repairs to their Kiev home when they returned and found it in serious condition.

$5,000 for Brad and Lori
This couple serves with ZOE International in Asia. For security reasons we do not publish their surname or location. ZOE is a ministry that rescues children from sex slavery, ministers to their needs, prepares them for adulthood, and houses them until they are 18 years old. Brad was an undercover detective and Lori an office administrator before heading to Asia in 2014. Brad now heads up the team which rescues children, and Lori applies for grants from different sources to support the work of ZOE.

$6,000 for Leurbourg Orphanage, Practical Compassion
Practical Compassion, based in Lebanon, PA, pours 100% of its donations into a town, Ponte Sonde, in Haiti. Their staff serves as volunteers. They built and support 3 orphanages, 3 schools, six wells, and a medical clinic in the town. They needed to raise money to feed 200 orphans, some in later stages of malnutrition. The $6,000 supplies 6 months of food for the children. Practical Compassion raised a total of $18,000 for the children’s food supply.

$5,000 to Worldlink for the ministry needs of Frances & Melvina Bella, Central African Republic
Frances and Melvina Bella’s home was ransacked and burned down two years ago. Since then they have lived in a refugee camp in Bangui, Central African Republic where Pope Francis recently visited. Frances, a pastor, has developed a daily ministry in the camp, and together he and Melvina have seen many come to Christ as Savior and Lord. The money requested was used to provide further evangelistic tools to reach more of the refugees, many of whom are Muslims, with the Gospel.

$50,000 to Worldlink – Matching Funds Campaign
Worldlink President Jack Nelson asked First Presbyterian to be the matching donor for the ministry’s year-end matching gift campaign. We have committed to matching up to $25,000 in 2015, and an additional $25,000 at the start of 2016 if the ministry partners donate the total $50,000. This money will be used to stabilize the ministry while Worldlink’s Matching Gifts Team raises additional large gifts for the ministry in 2016. The goal is to have a total of 400 supported indigenous missionaries by December 31, 2016, and to assure the ministry is financially stable.

$25,000 to Kenya Orphanages The Very Rev. Bernard and Mrs. Eunice Muindi requested this gift for the continuing ministries at Tumaini Destitute Children’s Home and the Humura Handicapped Home in Nyeri, Kenya. Rev. Muindi has been a faithful and detailed correspondent for many years and we are thrilled to be able to assist him in this great need.

$15,000 to Hebron Zion Presbyterian Church, Johns Island, SC
Rev. Washington has been keeping us well-informed of the disbursement of yearly gifts and we are also delighted to support this greatly needed food ministry there on Johns Island.

$1,500 to Amanda Keeny Odessa, Ukraine
Amanda Keeny, a native Berks Countian, serves with The Evangelical Alliance Mission (TEAM) as a church planter in Odessa, Ukraine. Amanda is a new missionary and joined the team in Odessa in August 2015. The $1500 was to help with moving expenses to get her onto the field.

$2,000 to River of Hope Therapeutic Ministries
River of Hope is headquartered in Lebanon, PA with satellite offices in Berks and Lancaster Counties. This agency nurtures healthy relationships by providing hope and healing through preventative education and professional, Christ-centered therapy for all ages and life stages. FPC member Becky Hollenbach, who has her master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, is on the staff of River of Hope.

$1,000 to Fireproof Ministries for support of David Domanski
FPC member David Domanski regularly participates in mission trips with Fireproof Ministries, which seeks to minister to those involved in the pornography industry, and those addicted to pornography. David, a 22-year old college student, is on the Missions Committee and is dedicated to seeing men and women set free from addiction to pornography, and new life in Jesus Christ.

$3,000 for City Light Ministries
City Light Ministries is a center-city shelter in Reading, PA that ministers to those no other shelter will help. It is a ministry of Spring Valley Church of God. In the past year the shelter needed extensive repairs in order to meet city codes inspection, and First Presbyterian joined many other local churches and businesses in providing the funding.


Practical Christmas Grace

By Nancy Alley

It’s that time of year again…you know, when we can count on having people come to church who are the Creasters… The Christmas and Easter attenders. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to have them and we welcome them with open arms. The thing is, did you ever wonder why they aren’t much interested in coming at other times of the year? I have. I think it could have something to do with the fact that they don’t see what is happening at our church Christmas Giving(or any church) as particularly different from the rest of their lives, or more attractive. What if we WERE different from other people? Nicer… more generous spirited… also known as grace-filled. I think that Jesus would be pleased. At this time of year, we have a special opportunity to exercise our grace “muscle” and model Jesus by our own actions. I have compiled a brief list of suggestions of things we could do with that in mind…nothing hard, just fun. Check it out:

  • Let someone in front of you in traffic when lanes are merging… maybe even smile and wave!
  • Call someone you love just to listen and catch up.
  • Write an actual handwritten note. Or two.
  • Give the gift of rest and watch the kids for your most sleep-deprived friend.
  • When you go through the drive-thru at Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks, pay for the order of the car behind you. (Sometimes that ends up becoming a chain reaction, with all the cars in line doing it!)
  • When checking out at the grocery store, ask your cashier what their favorite candy is, then buy it for them and present it with a smile.
  • Keep an extra blanket in your car to give to a homeless person when you see one.
  • If someone is abrupt or grumpy, just let it slide… or give them a hug (only if you know them!)
  • Sweep a neighbor’s driveway or porch.
  • Take a few minutes to hold the door for everyone that walks into a restaurant or office. Smile and wish them a Merry Christmas as you do. You’ll get a reaction.
  • Buy a bouquet of flowers (or a box of candy canes) and give them away one at a time as you are prompted.
  • Tape a note and a dollar to a vending machine. The next person along will be delighted!
  • Walk someone’s dog for them.
  • Take a plate of cookies to your local policemen or firemen with an encouraging note.

I’ll bet you are much more creative than I am, but you get the idea… look for ways to bring a smile to someone’s face and surprise them with an act of grace. It is habit forming…and we might start to look more like the One we are named for! Above all, have fun and remember to smile. We DO say “Merry” Christmas, right?


Shop and Help Support Indigenous Missionaries through WORLDLINK

Worldlink Logo

AmazonSmile_Logo-no-backgroundThrough the “Amazon Smile” program Amazon will donate .05% of the price of your eligible purchases to Worldlink International Ministries whenever you shop on Amazon Smile. The Amazon Smile website is the same Amazon that you probably shop on already. Same prices, same products, same service. This is absolutely free to you. To support Worldlink while shopping at simply go to Log into your Amazon account (or open one). Your account is now linked to Amazon Smile and .05% of your purchases are donated to Worldlink to support indigenous missionaries. Bookmark the Amazon Smile page and you are set!


J.A.M.– Just Among Moms

by Leila Griggs

Just Among MomsAs a mom, I’m always looking to network, meet and just chat with other moms. What a blessing when this can happen in a Christ-centered, nurturing, welcoming environment. JAM is a play date/ bible study for moms of children under the age of 5. We create a safe place to talk about what it means to be a mother and how scripture influences our daily life. Our children socialize while the moms chat about the ups and downs, the surprises and joys, and the love we have for our children through Christ. We meet at various locations meant for children one Saturday a month. It’s wonderful to make mommy relationships like this, but it’s even better to have and build a relationship with God Himself. His encouragement is what speaks directly to our soul.


Take a Holiday Breather

By Nancy Alley, Women’s Ministry

This is the time of year when women start to get nervous. The sense of being behind in almost every aspect of life pervades as we consider menus, relatives, Christmas cards, expectations, gifts to be bought, entertaining, bills to be paid and everything else. It is easy to get caught up in the anxiety of the season and I think it is an especially female affliction.Holly & Ivy

With that in mind, I suggest you consider starting your Christmas season with the Holly and Ivy Christmas brunch…it offers a time set aside to simply bask in the beauty of a festive setting, the joy of fellowship and the opportunity to hear a message that grounds us in the real meaning of Christmas. Oh, and we sing Christmas carols, too. If you are already starting to feel a little breathless (and even if you’re not) reach out and invite a friend and bring her to the Holly and Ivy Brunch at the Berkshire Country Club on Saturday December 5th from 9:00 to 11:00 AM. You will be glad you did. So will we!


Make an Impact for Christ

By Doug Shuey, Interim Director of Youth Ministry

Doug Shuey
Doug Shuey
Youth Impact is our church’s ministry to students from 6th grade through high school. It is our goal to help equip our youth to be able to make an impact for Christ in their schools, their community, and the world. We meet for Sunday School every Sunday after the worship service during the adult education hour.

Our focus for the coming year is three-fold:
1) Build our group – We are in the unique situation of having Jr. High and Sr. High students grouped together. It is our goal to have a cohesive group where the younger and older students are able to work together to build each other up. We will be planning fellowship times and group building activities to help us become a more cohesive group.
2) Build our foundation – Our teaching times this year will be going back to the basics. Our cornerstone is Jesus, but the foundation of our lives comes from a solid knowledge and belief in the scripture. We started the school year looking at the 10 Commandments, then we will continue on with the Lord’s Prayer, the Beatitudes, and then other core basics that our students need to know to live godly lives.
3) Build our community – As a downtown church, we are in the amazing situation of having a lot of service organizations to partner with. Our youth will be partnering with some of these organizations this coming year to perform acts of service for them. James tells us that faith without works is a death faith, so we are helping our youth find ways to act out their faith through serving others. We are also teaching the students to support others with monetary donations through our weekly offering, which goes to our two Compassion International students.

I ask that you please pray for our youth this coming year. I truly believe that God uses this ministry to make an impact on their lives and the lives of those around them.


Demonstrated Love

By Mike Wehn, Director of Children’s Ministry

Mike WehnOn Sunday mornings our children are busy upstairs during Children’s Church and Sunday School learning about God and having fun. Each week we spend some time on the topic ofMissions. this is done through stories, through teaching and through activities. A tangible way we communicate to the children God’s vision for the world is by sponsoring a little boy through Compassion. Ronal is in fourth grade and lives in Bolivia. Our children have been able to learn about him (and share with him about themselves) as well pray for him, his family and his country. And they collect money each week to help with his education.

God calls us to think broadly — to see that His plan of salvation is for all nations and for all tribes. And God calls us to think specifically because God demonstrated his own love for us in this — that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

If you want to learn more about Compassion and the work it is involved with around the globe check out their website.


The Visitation Ministry Needs the Support of the Congregation

By Rev. Rick Hampton, Pastor of Visitation
Rev. Rick Hampton
The visitation ministry at FPC is a vital ministry of the church. It reaches out to shut-ins and those who are experiencing crisis situations, grief and loss, and hospitalization. We provide a ministry of prayer and encouragement while applying Scriptural insight.

The visitation ministry requires the support of the congregation members in order to serve. We need to have your suggestions as to people we can serve and assist. If you would like a visit yourself or know of someone who does, please don’t hesitate to call the church office. Communion is available for shut-ins, upon request.

Visitation is a mandated ministry. In Matthew 25:34-46 Jesus makes it clear that when we minister to others we are ministering to Him. May God bless you as we minister together in His name.

Interested in Joining Us?

First Presbyterian Church
A Member of ECO – A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians

37 S. Fifth Street
Reading, PA 19602


9:30AM                      Worship Service                                                                    /Children’s Church
10:45AM                    Coffee/Fellowship
11:00AM                    Education for All Ages

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