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Spirit of service endures: Engaging with local ministries at #GA226

Presbytery of Utah provides multiple opportunities for mission and ministry in the spirit of the discontinued Hands and Feet initiative.

FPC, Ogden, runs a community garden project, Eden Streets. Photo by Greg Allen-Pickett.

Salt Lake City – The decision to discontinue the Hands and Feet initiative for the 226th General Assembly (GA) has not diminished the commitment of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to community engagement and service during the assembly. Despite the official initiative being scrapped, the Presbytery of Utah has worked with their churches and other local nonprofits to provide multiple opportunities for commissioners and attendees to actively participate in local ministries, embodying the spirit of service that the Hands and Feet initiative sought to promote.

Despite the official initiative being scrapped, the Presbytery of Utah has worked with their churches and other local nonprofits to provide multiple opportunities for commissioners and attendees to actively participate in local ministries…

Commissioners were encouraged to bring donations of socks and undergarments to the assembly. These essential items, coordinated through Volunteers of America, Utah, are being distributed to various local ministries serving the unhoused, providing much-needed support to some of the most vulnerable members of the Salt Lake City community. There was also a collection of children’s books that will go to the United Way of Ogden. These simple acts of kindness reflect the ongoing dedication to social justice and care for those in need.

On Sunday, June 30, First Presbyterian Church of Salt Lake City hosted a Guns to Garden tools event. Photo by Jonathan Watson for Presbyterian Outlook. 

First Presbyterian Church of Salt Lake City invited commissioners to learn about and participate in their Guns to Garden Tools project on Sunday, June 30. This initiative involves transforming firearms into gardening tools, symbolizing a powerful shift from instruments of violence to tools of cultivation and growth. By engaging with this project, commissioners could witness and contribute to a tangible manifestation of peace and reconciliation.

On the same day, First Presbyterian Church of Ogden welcomed commissioners to visit and learn about their community garden, part of the Eden Streets organization. This initiative provides fresh produce to both local residents and feeding ministries. It also provides opportunities for homeless and recently released prisoners to volunteer, which gives them a sense of purpose. It serves as a space for community building and education about sustainable living. The garden exemplifies how local churches can foster a sense of community and stewardship of the earth while serving “the least of these.”

GA commissioners and attendees drop off donations for local Salt Lake City nonprofits. Photo by Greg Allen-Pickett.

During the GA worship services, offerings were collected to benefit nonprofits and organizations working with LGBTQIA+ youth and homeless people including the Fourth Street Clinic, Volunteers of America – Utah, and the Young Adult Volunteer program of the PC(USA). These organizations were selected by the outgoing co-moderators of the 225th GA at the recommendation of the Presbytery of Utah. These contributions directly support organizations that are making a significant impact on the lives of marginalized communities in Utah. The act of giving during worship highlights the ongoing commitment of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to inclusivity and compassion.

The various opportunities provided by the Presbytery of Utah demonstrate a continued commitment to serving the community and embodying the love and justice of Christ.

Although the Hands and Feet initiative was officially scrapped for the 226th GA, the spirit of this initiative continues to thrive through the actions and engagements of commissioners and local ministries. The various opportunities provided by the Presbytery of Utah demonstrate a continued commitment to serving the community and embodying the love and justice of Christ. These efforts highlight that the work of the church in the world goes on, finding new expressions and opportunities for service even when official initiatives come to an end.

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