Across Pittsburgh Presbytery, churches were observing Mission Weekend by celebrating the work of the mission agencies that extend their ministry.
At Central Presbyterian Church of Tarentum this morning our guest preacher was Mrs. Karen Snair, executive directory of the Allegheny Valley Association of Churches. Her sermon on "The Ministry of the AVAC" told a remarkable story about how the 41 member churches are making the love of Christ known locally and far away through the AVAC.
She described the increasing needs being met through the food bank. Some of the increase is due to higher visibility of the AVAC now that it has its own location on Freeport Road in Natrona Heights. Some of the increase is due to the sale of the Dayspring Christian Center and the abrupt cessation of its food bank and feeding program. Some of the increase is a reflection of increasing levels of local poverty. In the very recent past much of the food that would be distributed through local banks has been moved South to be available for survivors of the recent hurricanes. This shift is an appropriate response to the crisis, but our local food banks will be working with diminished resources as they deal with hungry people nearby.
AVAC is partnering with the Habitat for Humanity of Allegheny Valley in "Operation Home Delivery," through which the local Habitat affiliate will pre-construct a home to be shipped to a Gulf Coast region Habitat affiliate.
She also described trends in homelessness being met through the Interfaith Hospitality Network. Families are the fastest growing sector of homeless people. The average age of a homeless person is 9 years old. There is a need for volunteers to help any of the host churches of the hospitality network, and for new churches to volunteer to participate in the network.
In addition to three ecumenical worship events a year, AVAC also had a Dial-a-Devotion line. People can call (724) 224-1444 any time of day, on any day of the week, and they will be able to hear a short devotional/inspirational message recorded by volunteers. The messages are changed daily. Frances Elliot, a member of the Central Presbyterian Church, is AVAC's coordinator of the Dial-a-Devotion program. There are about 600 calls a month to the Dial-a-Devotion line.
This worship service was a good wrap-up for our Mission Weekend which also included an informative training event on Saturday about domestic violence.