First Presbyterian Church reaching out to community

First Presbyterian Church has been a longtime financial supporter of the Boulware Mission, which helps displaced community members become self-sufficient through treatment, education and services.

But the nonprofit will get an additional funding boost this year, with the church holding its first Used Book Fair from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 4, with all donations going to the Boulware Mission.

“We have been trying to come up with some creative approaches to raising money and supporting our mission partners,” said Jeff Moles, the church’s director of Christian education and mission. “So we already support Boulware Mission through the church’s budget, but we wanted to do a little more in-depth financial support; get more people directly involved with that.

“We’ve had a long relationship with them. A couple of years ago on one of our Service Sundays, we went and took a tour of their facility. We’ve always been impressed by the work that they do, and we wanted to do something to address homelessness and help people who are coming out of incarceration, facing addiction, things like that. So we thought this was a good way to get lots of people involved in loving their neighbor.”

Moles said Boulware’s mission aligns well with the church’s outreach.

“We look for people who are already doing the kind of work that we’re invested in and find ways that we can support them and work with them rather than inventing the wheel ourselves every time,” Moles said. “One of the things we’re doing this year is a Mission of the Month program, where we’re focusing on a different project each month, just to get people more engaged. This month is Boulware Mission. We had their director and clinical director come and speak to the congregation a few years ago, so we’re trying to focus on the good work they’re doing.”

Debbie McCoy, the church’s clerk of session, said “thousands” of books have been donated for the sale, mostly from church members, with some out of the church’s library. The subject matter of the books covers nearly genre, with best-sellers, hardback books and trade paperbacks. Many are in “like-new” condition.

Books will be available for donations ranging from 50 cents to $5.

“When doing something like this, we phrase it as a suggested donation,” Moles said. “And we hope people will consider going above and beyond the suggested donation, since all of the money will go directly to Boulware.”

The church is also beginning the planning for its Multicultural Festival on Aug. 17. McCoy isn’t concerned that Kentucky Wesleyan having started a Multicultural Festival will negatively impact the church’s event.

“(KWC event coordinator) Lori Thurman got in touch with me last fall, and we talked about ways Wesleyan could be more involved in our festival, but that would involve changing our date, and we decided after 25 years, we really couldn’t change our date and maintain the contacts that we had,” McCoy said. “So she asked if it would be possible for them to go ahead and do their own, and would we support that? And I said yes, because you can’t have too many.

“This is something that brings awareness to all of the cultures that are here in town, and the international students at KWC wanted to do it and represent their cultures, so I gave them the blessing to go ahead and do their own thing.”

McCoy said she hopes to bring the Lunar Lion Dance that performed at the KWC event back in August, with the church’s event having lacked Chinese representation in recent years.

The church is also fulfilling its outreach mission by serving as a host site for several local organizations, including the Coalition for an Inclusive Daviess County and the Prism Arts Alliance.

“I think sometimes people think of the church building itself as being the church, but it’s a tool that the church uses to do ministry,” Moles said. “If we just sit here with an empty building, that’s not doing much ministry. Anytime we can share our building with the community, I think it’s a great thing.”

Moles said welcoming groups that aren’t always welcome in church settings is part of spreading the Bible’s message.

“It’s our mission as Christians to love our neighbors,” he said. “I think a lot of the comments I’ve heard are based on stereotypes and fears people have. If we can provide a platform for those stereotypes and fears to be broken down, I think that’s a great ministry we can do.

“The (panels) the Prism Arts Alliance are planning for June, for Pride Month, are similar to a Sunday school series we held here last year. I think it’s a good opportunity for people who have questions who don’t know what they believe, who maybe have never met somebody from the LGBQT community, to actually form relationships with those people and get to know some of the neighbors they might not understand. I think that’s an essential part of the church’s mission.”

McCoy sees welcoming the groups in as an extension of the Multicultural Festival.

“This is a way to educate people and to know our neighbors,” she said. “It’s very important to me, and I think other members of our congregation, to talk about diversity and our different beliefs and celebrate those and see how we can maybe bring things together and have conversations, because conversations is what we’re trying to start with the Multicultural Festival.

“We want to be an inclusive church. We want to welcome everyone, regardless of your beliefs. This is the place where you can come and ask questions and talk to people and it stays respectful, and that’s the important thing.”