Westminster’s national mission work currently focuses on four primary areas: housing rehabilitation in Appalachia with the Appalachia Service Project; regional hunger concerns through gleaning trips in connection with the Healthy Harvest Food Bank and the Society of St. Andrew; support of Native American ministry and mission with the Bdecan Presbyterian Church in Spirit Lake, North Dakota; and support of the National Capital Presbytery mission efforts.
Westminster members support these projects through volunteer service outside the Beltway and donations, both in-kind and monetary. The committee also facilitates financial contributions through the quarterly Cents-Ability program in support of local and national hunger relief efforts, including Westminster’s annual Thanksgiving meal distribution. See below for more information about each of these ministries. If you would like to get involved, please contact [email protected].
Appalachia Service Project
Our church has supported Appalachia Service Project since 2010. ASP uses volunteers to conduct home repairs in Central Appalachia to help individuals and families live “warmer, safer, and drier.” We continue to strengthen our relationship with the staff at the Guyan Valley Center and other centers in West Virginia and also contribute to ASP with monetary gifts. The financial support goes to general projects and for the purchase of equipment requested by past participants. Individuals of all construction skill levels are encouraged to help serve.
Our church continues to give our labor and resources to the Healthy Harvest Food Bank and the Society of St. Andrew, who work together to ensure unpicked produce from Virginia farms and orchards goes to Virginia’s neediest families. On two trips in the summer or into September, Westminster children, youth, and adults follow the professional pickers and harvest the leftover corn or apples.
In 2019, our groups made several hundred pounds of corn available to central Virginia food pantries via the Healthy Harvest Food Bank, and over 538 bags of apples with the Society of St. Andrew at Marker-Miller Orchard in Winchester.
Bdecan Presbyterian Church at Spirit Lake
Since the early 2000s, Westminster has supported the programs at Bdecan (pronounced Bah-DAY Chan) Presbyterian Church in Tokio, ND on the Spirit Lake Reservation. Part of the Northern Plains Presbytery, Bdecan is the only Dakota Presbyterian church in North Dakota.
In 2013, Westminster supported Bdecan’s hiring of a Youth and Outreach Coordinator. Joe Obermeyer recently celebrated seven years of service at Bdecan in that role, and Westminster continues to provide financial support for his salary and benefits. Joe has been able to maintain children and youth programs—including vacation bible schools and a weekly KICK children’s ministry. Recognizing that the Bdecan ministry is not possible without Joe, our church has made a particular commitment to his personal and professional development and in 2019, Joe became a Certified Lay Pastor. He has been a tireless and passionate advocate for this community! In addition, Westminster funds other small and large needs for Bdecan—from the purchase of a snow blower and lawn mower to manse repairs. Bdecan also runs a monthly food pantry, which delivers an average of 1,500 pounds of food to 87 families each month.
In 2015, the committee established an educational fund to support higher education for members of the Bdecan community. Cankdeska Cicana Community College facilitated the award of the first Bdecan Presbyterian Church scholarships in 2016 to eight of their students. Since then, we have been able to give scholarships to 7-11 students each year. The recipients share the common dreams of providing for their children and giving back to their tribe and community. It is not hyperbole to say we are making those dreams achievable one semester at a time.
Are you ready to collect some small change to make a big difference? Take a bank home with you, put in a few cents at each meal for each member of your family, and then bring it back to church on Cents-Ability Collection Sundays. In addition to supporting the national Hunger Programs of the PC(USA), a portion of the money we raise will support the annual Adopt-a-Turkey program run by the Local Mission Committee.
This is a wonderful opportunity, right around your dinner table, to have conversations with friends and family about hunger and poverty. These are realities that affect so many men, women, and children each day; sometimes in Kenya or Cameroon, sometimes just down the block. As we give thanks for our daily bread, please continue to support this program, which in turn supports so many others in our community, nation, and world.
Mission with the National Capital Presbytery
As a member congregation of the National Capital Presbytery (consisting of PCUSA churches in the metropolitan DC/MD/VA area), Westminster contributes significantly to the NCP mission fund. This fund serves ministries in the areas of new church development and church transformation, immigrant congregations, and a variety of mission programs and networks. For more information, go to thepresbytery.org.