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Mission and Witness

First Presbyterian Church is a mission driven church that infuses the importance of serving others into every aspect of our church.  We use this benediction to guide our mission efforts and put our faith into action.

Because the world is poor and starving, we go with bread.

Because the world is filled with fear, we go with courage.

Because the world is in despair, we go with hope.

Because the world is living lies, we go with truth.

Because the world is sick with sorrow, we go with joy.

Because the world is weary of war, we go with peace.

Because the world is seldom fair, we go with justice.

Because the world is under judgement, we go with mercy.

Because the world would die without it, we go with God's love.

Because the world is filled with fear, we go with courage.

Since our founding in 1858, we have been a congregation focused on mission and social justice. Before we had a building to meet in we lost our records to the fires of the raid by Quantrill and his men that destroyed much of Lawrence.  Our charter members were Free State abolitionists who survived Quantrill's raid in 1863.  Building on the memory of our surviving members we built our membership roster.  These same folks found a way to build a structure for our church at 9th and Vermont under the leadership of Rev. William A Starrett.  We stayed at that location for 102 years!

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Because the world is seldom fair, we go with justice.

In the 1960's, our members were active in the local civil rights movement working to establish the first integrated municipal swimming pool. 

 

In 2014 we hosted the founding meeting to establish the social justice organization Justice Matters to address social issues in Lawrence.

We have always been an evolving congregation willing to examine our prejudices and purpose in order to expand our commitment to implementing Christ's teachings.  In 2019, we accepted the call to become a Matthew 25 church.  This bold initiative of the Presbyterian Church (USA) calls on congregations to actively engage and address the most pressing social justice issues within their communities.

As a congregation we align with these organizations working for representation and justice for our neighbors.

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Because the world is living lies, we go with truth.

We were an early leader in recognizing same sex marriage and inviting all persons to worship with us.  In 2023, Elder Jeff Southard addressed the city council to state our support for passage of ordinance 9999 to establish Lawrence as a sanctuary city for persons facing discriminatory acts and legislation and regulation (especially transgender, non-binary, and gender-nonconforming people) targeted by passage of SB 180 in the Kansas Legislature.

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We engaged Haskell professor Dr. Eric Anderson to create a formal Land Acknowledgement to recognize the original inhabitants of the ground upon which our church was built.  The acknowledgement is displayed and distributed to members and incorporated into Sunday service.

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Because the world is poor and starving, we go with bread.

We actively support these local Lawrence organizations with our time and donations.  

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We are establishing a community garden for the 2024 growing season.  Our plan is to share our produce with Just Food and other organization addressing hunger in Lawrence.

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Because the world is in despair, we go with hope.

Members of our congregation developed the EcoTeam to focus on reducing our human footprint on the earth and promoting justice for people affected by climate warming.

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We open our church building to community organizations working to prepare our children for the future and supporting others to rebuild their lives.  We estimate that we share our church facilities with nearly 2000 members and non-members each week.

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