On a Mission! July 2020

Current Events

with Rev. Kate Shaner and Kris Lofrumento, Sundays at 5 pm

Join Rev. Kate Shaner and Kris Lofrumento for a series of conversations about race and racism. Every other Sunday, beginning June 28, a pre-recorded conversation will be posted on the Facebook event covering one race-related topic. They will provide a list of resources for each conversation so you have the opportunity to learn more. The recordings will remain on Facebook for later viewing, should you choose to watch at a different time. 

On the alternating Sundays, you are invited to join Kate and Kris on a live Zoom call to further the discussion, ask questions and receive guidance to take action. More information, including guidelines for the conversations, are available on the website. The series will conclude September 13.

Learn more about the series, moderators, guidelines for conversations and lists of resources online. A list of topics to be covered in future conversations is also available.

View recordings every other Sunday beginning June 28 at 5pm. 

Want to talk more? Join Zoom meetings, every other Sunday beginning July 5.

Watch and Learn

Each week in July we will share a video to help you learn more about the Back Bay Mission and our history with them. Fridays at 7 pm, tune in to watch a First Community member interview Back Bay Mission supporters. We will hear from current and former employees, as well as volunteers.


Each week in July will have a specific action in support of the Back Bay Mission. We hope to provide a full month of First Community love and support for our siblings in Biloxi. Please join in the experience!

You can contribute the requested donations from the comfort of your home by purchasing the items online and having them delivered to Back Bay.

Click the button for details.

Get Involved

Last Class Rescheduled

Our June 26 salsa class had to be cancled due to weather. We have rescheduled the class for July 10; same time and same location. If you were signed up for the class that was canceled, you are already on thie list for this make-up class. If you haven’t signed up yet, please click here so let us know you’ll be there. There is no cost to sign up, but your registration helps us prepare and maintain appropriate social distance protocols.

Click below to view videos from the first two classes and follow the event on Facebook.


Click below to sign up for July 22. We still need a few volunteers to help distribute the prepared meals at St. John’s.

Photos from June 24 below.

Updates from Mission Partners

Prison Ministry

Jeff Leister organizes the volunteer efforts at First Community to maintain relationships with individuals on death row in Ohio. Curtis Clinton is a church member living at the Chillicothe Correctional Institution. Through an online service called JPay, the inmates and volunteers are able to communicate via email. Below is an excerpt from an email Jeff received from Curtis, and was asked to share with the congregation.

I’ve gotten a copy of what you sent and posted it on the board for all to read. I guess now everyone can see why I stay so positive and happy. Joining the church and meeting you has been one of the most life changing experience I’ve ever had in my life. I was giving up before I met you because I felt like no one care and all the world was bad and I just wanted to get to a good place or a place of silence. I wanted to deal with the unknown verses dealing with the physical and then. I seen some of the church members on TV during the protest and it touch me and help me to shed some of these tears I’ve been holding back for all these years. I think that for most black folks we’ve felt so alone in our quest for respect and equal treatment that having those that we thought were against us and are now walking and crying our cry that is now all of our cry is just mindblowing and heartfelt all in one. I appreciate the church hearing us and walking with us and creating change for all the world to see, beautiful thing, it really is. Whenever you get the chance please, please let them all know that I love them and appreciate what they’re doing.

If you are interested in learning more about or volunteering with the group, you can find more info at FCchurch.com/prison-ministry.

Mat Makers

by Joan Talmage

Please begin to save plastic grocery bags for Mat Makers once again. When the church buildings reopen, we will accept clean, flattened bags in the Mat Makers bins at both locations.

Tandana Foundation

The Tandana Foundation was founded by Anna Taft, a former First Community member. The Foundation supports community initiatives for education, food security, conservation and health in Ecuador and Mali. The Misison Council at First Community has provided financial resources to Tandana over the last decade, enabling the foundation to do various projects including planting an orchard, and providing literacy education to women in local villages. We regularly receive updates on how our contributions affect positive change through the Tandanda Foundation. We encourage you to follow the Tandana blog or their Facebook page to stay up-to-date and learn more.

Click here to read a translated letter from a Tandana scholarship student, which we recently received from the Foundation.

Share and Learn Gardens

by Cheryl VanDeusen

Flexibility is the Name of the Game in Gardening in 2020! The Share and Learn Gardens volunteers have had a busy but different June getting the gardens weeded, fertilized and prepared for planting for the 2020 growing season. Our volunteers this year have agreed to be very flexible with the work schedule as requirements for when and how we garden have changed due to the pandemic. We decided to take it week by week to see what was needed at the gardens instead of a set weekly work session. We now also have 2-person teams who come by in the evenings when no rain has occurred to water and check on the progress of the crops. This helps us see when a whole group activity is needed. This has actually allowed us to be more efficient in coming and getting the tasks done.

One sad part of these changes for our volunteers is that we have to volunteer in the evenings or on the weekends as none of our volunteers can be at the gardens when the children are present at the MECDC due to the health risks involved. Obviously is it necessary, but we really miss interacting with the children about digging in the earth, finding soil creatures, weeding or eating yummy vegetables.

Erik Mars of Mars Irrigation was able to come on Saturday, June 6, and expand our drip water irrigation system to our expanded herb bed, new butternut squash bed and pollinator flower beds. The drip irrigation system has proven to save money on the water bill and volunteer time and effort to get all the plants watered.

The whole group has gotten together for two large work sessions during June. On June 11, we harvested the garlic and cut the scapes off. The garlic are now drying in the upstairs area of Loren and Cheryl’s garage and will soon be distributed to Heart to Heart clients. The area where the garlic had grown was weeded, fertilized and reseeded with okra. The clients at Heart to Heart loved the okra in 2019 so it is back again in 2020 as an encore crop. Have you seen okra plants? They are gorgeous!

We also planted Swiss chard and carrots along the soil edge of the tomato beds. We over-seeded the lettuce and regular carrot beds.

On June 24 the group met to get several gardening tasks done. Some of us harvested collard greens and lettuce that provided fresh and healthy produce for 48 families. Some planted the  newly expanded herb bed, planted more okra seeds, or collard plants. Other volunteers clipped up cucumber vines, pruned suckers from the tomato plants or weeded the never ending weeds!! Mike fixed the cement blocks so the row covers have a firmer and tighter fit to prevent pests from attacking our crops. June is ending but July looks to be a great month as all our planted crops will continue to grow and provide healthy nutritional food for the clients.

We the volunteers of the Share and Learn Gardens wish you all a safe and well Fourth of July.