News from The Mission Team

Thanks for your support!  We encourage you to contribute your piece to our church mission work.

During 2020 our lives have changed dramatically as we have adopted ways to combat the spread of COVID-19. We are deeply grateful for all those who have provided leadership and service to and with the church in this unsettled time. As your Mission Team we find a foundation in our Core Value: “To love and serve neighbors near and far in their physical, spiritual, social, and emotional needs” as we represent your Christian compassion to those whose needs we strive to meet. With God’s spirit guiding us, we attempt to discern where to invest our energy and resources, and to work to promote and expand the mission opportunities to FPC and the larger community.

Food is one part of our life where each of us intersects daily with God’s gifts. While in normal times food insecurity is a problem with many of our Wausau neighbors, during these times the need has become a reality for many new folks who have not experienced it in the past. To offset any increases in numbers of guests to our Food Pantry as well as the increased cost of grocery items, we received 2 grants; $1000 from the Presbyterian Mission Agency for Congregational Emergency Food Grant and $4500 from the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Grant through the Winnebago Presbytery.

Our Food Pantry continued as scheduled with modifications to ensure the safety of our volunteers and our guests. Our food is distributed “drive by” style and we utilize a smaller number of volunteers. During 2020, the Food Pantry served 599 family units, totaling 1063 adults and 523 children.

The Sunday Community Supper, with twenty congregations and community organizations, has also adapted to being safe by using the “drive by, take out” method. Often the meal is prepared and packaged by a local restaurant, therefore providing them with some added business. 2 – 3 volunteers are all that is needed to handout those meals. 3,200 meals were handed out and our church served on nine Sundays.

We again planted our church garden. Our compost bins provided us with an especially loamy mixture in the spring to help enrich our soil. We grew tomatoes and peppers in the straw bales again this year, with yellow beans in both the handicapped accessible planters, and four types of squash in the four raised gardens. Some of our yield was lost due to plentiful rain but we were able to provide about 80 pounds of fresh produce to our Food Pantry.

In March FPC and Winnebago Presbytery joined with WIPPS and other local groups in co-sponsoring a Community Conversation on Immigration, as part of our Welcoming the Stranger initiative. Three community events (including the last one virtually) were very well attended.

In keeping with our Welcoming the Stranger Initiative, we donated $950 to the Hispanic Outreach Food Distribution that provided 252 bags of food for Hispanic families in Abbotsford and Wausau. The food was purchased from Hispanic groceries, doubling the benefit to that community. The Mission Team also presented $2,100 to the Hmong American Center and the Hispanic Outreach program for special food distribution vouchers to low income Hmong and Hispanic immigrant families during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 51st Annual Friends Thanksgiving Dinner, coordinated by Korrin Black and Kristin Janis, provided 704 Thanksgiving meals, all delivered to homes within our community. Numerous church members, community volunteers, and Boy Scout Troop 435 worked diligently to make this a successful and welcomed community outreach.

FPC Mission supports the work of NAOMI and the Salvation Army.

The Mission Team is charged with interpreting the mission of the Presbytery, Synod, and General Assembly and to encourage and facilitate our congregation’s participation.

Throughout the year your contributions not only support the general mission of the Presbytery and General Assembly but include these special offerings.

  • One Great Hour of Sharing – $812. Our gifts assist those affected by natural disasters, provide food to the hungry, and help build strong communities.
  • Pentecost Offering – $690. These gifts help the church encourage, develop, and support its young people, and also address the needs of at-risk children. 40% of this offering stays in our local community, Mission added to this to donate a total of $750 to GiGi’s Playhouse. GiGi’s serves individuals with Down syndrome from pre-natal diagnosis through adulthood.
  • Peace and Global Witness Special Offering – $674. This offering supports PCUSA’s Global Peacemaking Program. 25% was presented to One Wausau, a coalition committed to building an inclusive Greater Wausau Area community in which all people feel welcome, safe and valued.
  • Joy Offering – $1035. The gifts from this offering are split between the Assistance Program of the Board of Pensions and to support student scholarships at Presbyterian-related racial ethnic schools and colleges.

The FPC Free Clinic wrapped-up the second year of providing free primary care to homeless individuals using Catholic Charities Warming Center during the cold winter months. The clinic was open Wednesday evenings beginning November 1 and continued services through the end of May. Normally, the Warming Center would have closed April 30, but this year stayed open an extra month to protect guests because of the Coronavirus outbreak. Approximately half of the 140 guests who used the Warming Center during the winter received medical care on one or more occasions. We will again be providing meals for the Warming Center.

The FPC Free Clinic has a new site that will allow expansion of operations while we continue to co-locate with Catholic Charities Warming Center at the First United Methodist Church.

We plan to operate other days of the week (preferably Tue. & Thur.) and open services to our original target population: uninsured people, living at or near poverty. Jennifer Bañarez, a VISTA volunteer, is a  medical school graduate who will be working with us on further developing the Free Clinic and its services. We continue working with a local coalition which is committed to building a Community Partners Campus to house multiple community social service agencies, including our Free Clinic. It was recently announced that a campus site has been secured in the former Job Service building. The FPC Free Clinic has teamed with WIPPS in co-sponsoring influenza immunization outreach clinics targeting hard to reach populations.

We are now one of four formally declared with the PC(USA) Mission Agency; Matthew 25 congregations in the Winnebago Presbytery. As such, we have committed to Building Congregational Vitality, Dismantling Structural Racism, and Eradicating Systemic Poverty. As we continue on this journey, we want to strengthen our commitment to “serve the least of these” in our community and around the world.

Current Mission Team members are: Mary Anderson, Kingsley Forbes, Marilyn McCann, Session Liaison Susan McKinley, Chuck Schlitz, Deacon Representative Julie Sorenson, Jim Slayton, Ted Sperduto, Jeff Todd, Staff Liaison Rachel Wann, and Rick Wicklund.

Countless individuals are blessed through your compassionate and generous support of the mission work of FPC. You touch the lives of so many. You are a blessing.