From Imagination to Reality
It has been an exciting fall at Rye Presbyterian Church as children have returned to Sunday School, youth ministries have begun their meetings, we’ve welcomed Jason Charneski into our midst, and we’ve engaged in learning more about our Imagine Initiative. On Sunday, October 18, we came together for Commitment Sunday for both the Imagine Initiative and our Annual Stewardship Campaign. As of the end of October, we have received 142 pledges for a total amount of $3,279,000 for the Imagine Initiative. This is 78% of our $4.2 million goal. While we still have a ways to go, this is very exciting. I hope that you will join us on Sunday, November 8, following worship, for Celebration Sunday, a festive finale to the beginning of the Imagine Initiative! This marks the beginning of our move from dreaming, planning, and resourcing to Imagine as reality.
And so it is with great excitement that I share with you one of the new mission initiatives that is coming to our church because of the Imagine Initiative, which will fund this new ministry for its first two years. It is the COMING HOME program which is an extension of our long-standing Prison Ministry. In collaboration with The Beck Institute on Religion and Poverty at Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service, Coming Home seeks to empower those who are returning to the community from incarceration. Coming Home is based on a well-established model with a track record of success and over a thousand graduates in the New York Metropolitan area over the past two decades.
Participants work with facilitators and accompaniers* to support personal healing and growth, skill development, and reintegration into the community. This 18-week program pairs RPC congregants with the formerly incarcerated to help them transition back to their communities. Sessions will be on Thursday evenings from 6:00-8:30 p.m. beginning in January. Key to Coming Home is learning life skills, setting goals, and sharing personal stories in a safe, supportive community.
Unlike our current Prison Ministries, which are limited by the number of volunteers who can go into each of the correctional facilities at any given time, our Coming Home ministry will offer various volunteer ministry opportunities to our congregation. These include: Accompaniers* - congregants who are paired with participants, supporting, encouraging, and journeying with them through the program. Guest Speakers – presenters are needed to teach networking, job-searching, and other life skills. And Cooks and Hosts – each evening begins with a meal prepared and served by RPC congregants who share table fellowship before the night’s program begins.
I invite and encourage you to join us on Thursday, November 5, at 7:30 p.m. in the Westminster Room to learn more about this new extension of our Prison Ministry. Come and Imagine how God can be at work among us!
* While some Coming Home programs use the term mentors, we will use the term accompaniers. We understand the ministry of accompaniment as walking together in a solidarity that practices interdependence and mutuality. The basis for this accompaniment, or what the New Testament calls koinonia, is found in the God-human relationship in which God accompanies us in Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit.