Last Sunday we welcomed Rev. Chris Iosso from the PC(USA) Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy to our pulpit. We had good worship, focusing on what it means to be a “Connectional Church” and hearing from Chris about General Assembly. To help celebrate our connectionality, we also featured the Colorado Presbyterian Pilgrimage and the Highlands Presbyterian Camp and Retreat Center.
Because I didn’t preach last Sunday, I wanted to take the time here in my Midweek Missive to explore something very vital to our Ministry at CEH: Missions! We look at all the mission work we do through the understanding that God calls us to “Risk-Taking Mission and Service.” This is one of the “FIve Practices of Fruitful Congregations” described by Rev. Robert Schnase in his book by the same title.
We have a Missions Team that selects a “Mission of the Month” to focus on each month of the year, and who works hard to organize and manage the funds that come in from the Safeway and City Market member cards. When you use your shopper card and designate CEH as the benefactor (you can do this online or at the store), we receive a portion of your purchase! Each year we receive over $6,000 from these programs, and all that money goes toward our various mission projects.
Our Mission Team also focuses on how to promote our denominational Special Offerings, of which we have four over the course of a year. For example, the Pentecost Offering took place during the month of May, following Pentecost. Through your generous donations, we raised more than $1,000! 60% of that offering went to the PC(USA) fund for youth and children, and 40% stayed right here in Grand County and funded the ACHES and PAINS medical assistance program.
Another example of a Mission of the Month is our July mission — which was collecting money to purchase bee hives through Heifer International. There is still time to donate money to this mission — see the missions table outside of the sanctuary and “Feed the Bee” by stuffing its mouth with your donation. Click HERE to read about Heifer International and why bee hives can be so helpful to families!
This week I want to especially focus on our new mission PEER Group. I’m writing from the perspective of watching PEER Group move from an idea to a vision to a successful mission of CEH, and I’m writing as a Mentor participant who has been blown away by the positive outcomes already!
PEER Group provides life skills classes and mentoring partners for anyone in Grand County who is in need of help. Our informational flier says, “Through a six-week course, you will learn problem-solving & critical-thinking skills, develop financial literacy, and be connected with a group of peers who will walk with you through the whole process. PEER Group continues through a year-long relationship with peer-leaders, who will continue to help you monitor your goals, learn about resources in Grand County, and provide emotional support.”
This Group was envisioned over the period of the last six months or so after a brief discussion with Tracy Lyman, who wondered if there might be any need for a mentoring program in Grand County. He took the idea and ran with it, recruiting nearly fifteen people who wanted to be involved! After vigorous planning and training, we accepted our first three applicants and started classes in April. We have just embarked on Phase Two of the PEER Group program — the year-long mentoring and once a month classes.
I sure wish you could witness the energy and enthusiasm on Monday nights. We didn’t know what to expect as Peer Mentors, and to be honest, most of us were pretty nervous to get started! But even after the first dinner together, we knew it was going to go better than we imagined. Name tags and a silly ice breaker made our first week go well, and by the second week we realized this was going to be amazing — one of our most introverted participants came in with a whole new posture and attitude, willing to make eye contact with the volunteers rather than keeping her gaze on the ground.
Here is a quote from one of our Peer Mentors: “What I have witnessed is the value of Critical Thinking, Setting a Goal and achieving that goal and developing new goals as things progress. The impact was apparent in the person, the highlights of the week, and upon family and friends.”
Indeed, we are so impressed with our participants and their enthusiasm for the process, that each one of us are challenged to meet and set our own goals! I think we can all say that we are learning from our participants and are looking forward to learning even more from them as our next phase begins.
If you are interested in committing to this visionary group, please talk to Alan Sommerfeld, who is heading up the PEER Group this go around. Other volunteers involved in our first class are Bud Crawford, Janet Harrington, Paul Hollruh, Diane Howell, Mark Lund, Gary & Sue Perkins, Karen Sommerfeld and me! I’m loving my time with these wonderful people, and I’m proud to watch our own mentors and volunteers growing as well. Special thanks to Tracy & Barb Lyman, Meryl & Steve Eddy, Sarah Wildermans, Jocille Quick, Judy Schowalter, Marion Barry, and anyone else who has prayed in support of PEER Group, donated money or food, or given time to help us gather our resources.
Please pray to discern whether you may be able to serve as a mentor or volunteer for PEER Group in some capacity. Pray also that we would continue to model the love and concern of Jesus for all, and that we may have wisdom and grace as we mentor our wonderful PEER Group participants over the next 12 months.
We will be starting a new session with some of our returning PEER visionaries (who have been out of the Valley for the summer) either this fall or in January. I hope many of you will be able to join in for our next class of PEER Group!
In Christ’s Love,