Presbyterian Church USA logoFirst Presbyterian Church of Potsdam, New York

A community gathering in Christ and ministering as God leads
42 Elm Street, Potsdam, NY 13676 • phone (315) 265-9434 • email

Serving Others

Mission and Outreach: Seeds of Generosity for Growth
Whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant ... For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve ... - Mark 10:43-45


Get information on Presbyterian Church USA responses and relief effortsDonate via the Index on Presbytery Disaster Assistance Program - by credit card or by phone at (800) 872-3283 weekdays between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. (EST); if you prefer sending a check, be sure to write the fund # in in the memo line.

Credit card donations of money are also being accepted through many other organizations, such as the Salvation Army and the American Red Cross.

Here is a partial list of relief agencies currently working around the world:

Partners in Health
Catholic Relief Services  
American Red Cross
Doctors Without Borders
World Vision
Mercy Corps

Global Mission Work  - Jim and Carol Brees

Potsdam First is helping to support the mission work of Jim and Carol Brees, who are currently working at the Memorial Christian Hospital in Sialkot, Pakistan.  Here is an excerpt from a January 9, 2008 email from Carol to (Mission Chair) Pam Whittet:

...Yes, I remember our time together in Potsdam well. A lot has happened since then -- traveling back to Pakistan right after the State of Emergency was declared, losing my luggage (got it back without a few things!), celebrating Christmas..., hunkering down after Benazir's assassination and the week of violence. Now things seem more or less back to normal, except that one of my more experienced doctors just left to work in Saudi Arabia and a second is out of the call schedule because she will be delivering herself next busy, busy, busy.....Today I operated on a woman who had a C-section at a government hospital 5 months ago to remove a sponge from her abdomen!

With the events of last week, the country is facing shortages of electricity, gas and flour, so you certainly could be praying about that. We are fortunate to have a generator at the hospital, but most of our heating and cooking is gas, so that gets challenging sometimes. We really can't complain though looking around us. Thank you very much for your financial support. Right now we are looking at replacing some fetal monitors and pulse oximeters, so that will be very helpful. We are hoping to develop and emergency obstetrics course for doctors and for mid-level health care providers in our area. I also really want to improve our resuscitation skills and protocols...

Yours in Christ, Carol

And excerpts from a note a few weeks later from Jim:

...So many things have happened in the last couple of weeks that it seems it must be more than only 11 or 12 days old. In light of many of those events and conversations with our partners we have decided that we need to lower our profile once again.

What does this mean? Well for us it means little difference in daily life and the routines we already practice. For you it means that information will become more limited and vague. We will not be posting to the blog I just started and our website at the Mission Connections site will be unavailable. It is important for us to have you know that we are in communication at all times with the leadership of the PCUSA in Louisville and they with us. We will let you know when the website and blog are active again.

NOTE: The Brees family is no longer in Pakistan. They had to return to the US due to Jim's health concerns and are living in Louisville, KY where Carol will be teaching at the university.

Global Mission Work  - Other

Our other global mission projects include: General Mission giving, participation in the Heifer Project, support of the Malawi shallow well program, and our active participation in Crop Walk. We are active in supporting Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, sometimes through PCUSA and other times directly.

Service to the Local Community

By sharing our church facilities, we reach out to and serve the local community. Here is a partial list of groups who rent our facilities:

  • Headstart
  • Alcoholics Anonymous
  • Tango with Todd

We recently improved our Church Center facilities: outside - replacing the play area fencing; inside - creating new storage space, remodeling the bathrooms, installing new flooring in the classrooms, and purchasing new lighter weight, adjustable, multi-use tables.

We offer the local community a faith journey ministry for all ages: for the younger children, a sermon just for them each Sunday, also weekly Sunday School and Vacation Bible School in the summer. There is also a youth ministry with weekly meetings and a special ministry to college students. Adult religious study classes are held throughout the year. Church members receive the publication "Presbyterians Today" as a way to connect with the greater mission work of the Presbyerian Church at large. The local community is invited to share in this faith journey ministry.

Ministry to the local community is one of the main missions of our church. We help provide monthly community dinners, and an annual Spaghetti dinner. We award grants to community groups whose plans show the face of God. Other important endeavors include participation in MINC (Ministries in the North Country) programs, regularly contributing to the food pantry and supporting local non-profit agencies. There is a service component to many of our church committees and groups, some are highlighted below.

MINC (Ministries in the North Country)

MINC-Rural Rehab projects

MINC-Rural Rehab Needs Your Help!

Rural Rehab had a very productive summer again, our last Work Group has come and gone. Our summer projects began even before the first Work Group arrived, when Jim Bruno and Bud Skiff built a wheelchair ramp here in Potsdam so a lady who had had a stroke could come home from the hospital in the wheelchair to which she is now confined. We got the call, the Outreach Workers got busy, measurements were taken, materials were ordered and delivered by Merriman's, thanks to Ranota Hewitson, and the homeowner is now safe in her newly accessible home.
Our own local group of volunteers recently finished a project in Star Lake. (More...) It is heartening to be able to respond to folks in need. We can use your financial help to replenish our funds for transportation and materials. Checks should be made payable to "MINC-Rural Rehab” and given to Eleanor Hopke or mailed to her at 68 Elm Street, Potsdam 13676. Please help us continue to be able to say "yes" when the call comes.

Here is a sample report on a MINC-Rural Rehab project in our local community that was accomplished successfully:

"Under the skillful direction of Gordon Batson, we met in the Church parking lot and journeyed out to Morley to dig a ditch and create a raised walkway so a very nice lady could finally get from her front door to her driveway without wading through mud. Linda Caamano, Norm Marshall and his sister (who probably thought she was coming for a quiet visit to Potsdam), Bud Skiff, Dave Morrison, Neil Johnson, Pastor Rich, Ray Toland (who brought his front end loader), and Cynthia Coleman dug dirt, shoveled and spread gravel, and carefully laid paving tiles. It was a beautiful day for working outside, and a wonderful experience to work together to make a family's home safer and easier to enter. As members of the congregation, you participated in this project too, since Mission funds were used to pay for some of the materials used. Thank you for caring about those in need, and supporting these kinds of activities."

Other MINC projects

Thanks to the generosity of our church and other MINC congregations, 30 Thanksgiving baskets were prepared for distribution to families in need. One basket came back to Potsdam, where the Deacons had identified a family to help in this way. Others were distributed over an area from Evans Mills to Chase Mills and Crary Mills.

Another MINC project is Foster Kids' Christmas, which prepares gifts for teens in foster care in Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties. Many programs exist to provide for infants and young children, but teens are often overlooked, perhaps because they are a more challenging group. MINC Works with Social Services caseworkers who come up with suggestions on what gifts to buy for each teen. These suggestions are posted in the churches supporting this MINC Project. Some donate the gifts; some donate money, and some donate their time to buy and wrap these gifts, and then to distribute them. If you wish to donate money, please send a check to Bonnie Boyd, MINC Receiving Treasurer, 5 Douglas Road, Norwood, NY 13668, and she will see that it gets to the shoppers for Foster Kids Christmas.

Another important MINC project is the Emergency Fund which helps local families who need assistance to heat their homes in the winter. as the cost of heating homes continues to increase. We've already noticed the changes in our own bills. Again, Bonnie Boyd will be heartened to receive your donations.

Learn more about MINC - a mission program in the Presbytery of Northern New York.

Mission Committee (more...)

Helping Hands Food Pantry

If you would like to donate to the Helping Hands food pantry, the items needed for the month of November 2013: tuna fish, peanut butter, canned pumpkin, canned vegetables, evaporated milk, bags of prepared bread stuffing, and cranberry sauce. All contributions are gratefully appreciated. Please place your donations in the grocery cart at the church entrance or in the bin below the coat racks in the Church Center.

The Mission Committee disperses mission funds as appropriated. Approximately 12% of the Church's budgeted expenditures (based on church membership) goes towards General Assembly Mission projects.

Other budgeted mission funds are used to support: disaster relief funds through PC(USA), Church World Service), Heifer International, and several local projects such as MINC Rural Rehab, MINC Foster Kids Program, and "Helping Hands" (a home rebuilding project). The church also provides grants to such groups as the American Red Cross (St. Lawrence County), Planned Parenthood of North Country New York, Renewal House (in Canton), and Hospice and Palliative Care of the St. Lawrence Valley. And contributions are also made to the Pastor's Charitable Fund. The Mission Committee also organizes several special events, such as: the Crop Walk, food collections for Helping Hands, as well as community dinners and the annual spaghetti dinner. The Mission Committee conducts special offerings during year: Souper Bowl Sunday, One Great Hour of Sharing, and Jubilee Christmas, and Jubilee Easter.

Deacons (more...)


The Ladies Guild (more...)

The Ladies Guild provides their services for projects such as the spring and fall rummage sales, which benefit not only buyers who need items at very reasonable prices, but also donors who want to recycle items they no longer use.

The Ladies Guild meetings
Meetings are regularly held on the first and third Thursday of each month at 9am. All women are invited to join them for needlework, "kitchen patrol," and service and mission projects.

The group also contributes soup to the joint Lenten Luncheons of local churches. Their craft talents show up in the baby quilts which are sewn for each new baby in our church; they also made the banners which adorn the Church Center. Their mission projects include helping to support SERRV (which provides a non-profit market for handicrafts made by families in Developing World Countries) by the pre-Christmas selling of catalog SERRV items. Their also make knitted and rolled bandages to ship overseas and donate their funds to world and local mission projects. The Ladies Guild has also taken upon itself the duty of "kitchen patrol" (refrigerator inspection and cleaning, and generally making the kitchen more user-friendly for church as well as outside groups who use our facilities).