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Joining Hearts and Hands

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With great gifts comes great responsibility - from the heart A familiar text from Luke's Gospel—"From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded."—has evolved into the watchword of the First Presbyterian Church of East Brady, Pennsylvania. The 102-member congregation, which has been the recipient of several significant bequests in its 132-year history, understands well that with great gifts comes great responsibility. "We exist to share the love of Jesus Christ," said Elder Debbie McCanna, First Presbyterian Church's clerk of session. "Being of service to those who serve through our gifts of time, talent, and treasure is how we put that faith statement into practice." Housed in an historic, Georgian-style mansion on the banks of the Allegheny River, the church's unique building was itself a gift to the congregation by Mr. and Mrs. Newton Graham. Graham, a Pennsylvania Presbyterian who earned his fortune in lumber and oil prior to relocating to Detroit to break into the auto industry, donated his own palatial home for use by the church in 1926 after its original building was damaged by a windstorm. Just recently, the congregation has again benefited from the Grahams' legacy as the recipient of a new trust from Graham's second wife. Because of the church's strong missional identity, McCanna knew that a portion of the income from this newest endowment would be earmarked for mission. According to McCanna, the difficult decision for the church to make about the money would not be whether to give to mission, but what percentage to give. The session ultimately decided to tithe the income from the Graham bequest to mission, with the understanding that the goal was to spend the money in the same year as it is received. "With a gift like this comes great responsibility," McCanna said. Because she also serves as chair of the church's mission committee, McCanna and her fellow members immediately began to research potential new mission causes, among them the Mission Initiative: Joining Hearts & Hands, the $40 million campaign to renew the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) for mission. The committee was favorably impressed with the goals of the campaign, which would also allow the church to increase its participation in international mission. "Will Browne was our pastor here from 1975 to 1982," McCanna said, speaking of the current acting co-director of World Mission for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). "He was the one who kick-started us in mission. We didn't know any missionaries until we met the Browne family." McCanna emphasized the unrestricted nature of the church's $10,000 gift to Joining Hearts & Hands. "We have a history of not designating," she said, "because we always feel that there's some track of mission that otherwise wouldn't get the funding. We trust that God will guide the decision about how to allocate the funds." Erin S. Cox-Holmes, associate general presbyter of Kiskiminetas Presbytery, of which the church is a member, expressed great joy in the church's recent action. "The East Brady Church is a congregation which is passionate in support of mission, especially the mission causes of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)," she said. “As a member of the national steering committee of Joining Hearts & Hands, I am delighted to see them participating in this denominational effort to renew the church for mission.” What is Christ calling you to do? We are called by Christ to "go out and make disciples of all nations." The PCUSA Mission Initiative: Joining Hearts & Hands is a direct response to that call. The goals of this initiative are twofold-evangelism and mission providing resources for new church development at home and the expansion of mission workers around the globe. Support is needed from individuals, congregations and presbyteries alike to meet the campaign's ambitious $40 million goal. United in response to Christ's call, imagine what we can accomplish together. To make a pledge and/or discuss how you, your church, or church-related organization can be involved, call (888) 728-7228, extension 5611, or visit our website at [This article was featured in the April 2007 issue of Presbyterians Today]
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