The Compassion and Social Justice Team plans and coordinates the local mission of First Presbyterian Church, interpreting to the congregation the national and worldwide mission of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), strengthening the public witness of First Presbyterian to the values of God’s kingdom, and otherwise promoting social justice and care for God’s creation, with special attention to people who are poor, homeless, victims of prejudice, or otherwise on the margins of society in our community.
In addition to supporting national and international programs through the PC(USA) churchwide, our congregation supports these local programs and missions:
- ECHO Outreach Ministries
- Big Bend Continuum of Care
- Big Bend Habitat for Humanity
- Second Harvest of the Big Bend
- Kearney Center
- Elder Care
- Kindred Spirits
- Tallahassee Citizens Against the Death Penalty
- Carbon Offset – Sustainable Tallahassee
- Immokalee Workers
- Capital City Youth Services
- Grace Mission
Compassion and Social Justice: Hunger
Grace Mission Food Service Volunteers
Twice each month, volunteers help serve meals at Grace Mission.
July 4th Meals on Wheels
Our Compassion and Social Justice Team meets regularly. For more information about First Presbyterian Church or our Compassion and Social Justice Team, or if you are interested in attending our next meeting, please contact the office at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would be happy to get to know you better and answer any questions you may have about what the team does or about making First Presbyterian your church home.
Local Ministry Spotlight – Grace Mission
Grace Mission Episcopal Church began over 24 years ago and serves the basic needs of homeless and otherwise vulnerable people. They hold a worship service on Sunday, Evening Prayer on Tuesday, and Morning Prayer on Wednesday. They also offer a 12-step Recovery Service Program, as well as a Bible Study ministry. They provide referrals to counseling, recovery, and in-and-out patient rehab facilities. Grace Mission’s outreach within the neighborhood includes an after-school program 3 times per week for children grades 1-5. Grace has provided quarterly medical clinics, prescription medication and they help pay for over-the-counter medications as needed. They also offer free flu shots and Hepatitis A shots in partnership with FSU Medical School and Leon County Health Department. They provide referrals to counseling, recovery, and in-and-out-patient rehab facilities. They support other daily needs with supplied clothes, coats, warm blankets, non-prescription glasses, and hygiene products, along with a monthly free clothing giveaway. Furthermore, working with State agencies, Grace Mission helps secure birth certificates and State photo IDs to assist members of the community in securing employment. Grace Mission has over 20,000+ volunteer hours per year helping to serve 40,000+ meals, as well as provide showers and laundry services, all at no charge and reports a clean audit every year of operation. You can find Grace at 303 West Brevard Street in the Frenchtown Neighborhood and if you would like to contribute visit their website to see how.
Compassion and Social Justice: Shelter
Habitat for Humanity
Tallahassee’s Habitat for Humanity got its start at First Presbyterian Church. Working with other congregations, we build a Habitat House every year. Offerings at both Christmas Eve services go to support Habitat.
Cold Nights Shelter
For a number of years First Presbyterian Church either operated or assisted in operating an overflow shelter for cold nights. With the opening of the Kearney Center in 2015, the need for an additional Cold Nights Shelter no longer exists. We are grateful to all the congregations who partnered in operating the Cold Nights Shelter.
Homelessness in Leon County
The Compassion and Social Justice Committee is engaged in a number of activities to deal with problems of homelessness in our community. We participate in the yearly count of homeless, we support programs geared to temporary housing for families, youth and single men and women, and we partner with the Big Bend Continuum of Care, the primary coordinating body dealing with local homelessness.
History of the The Shelter, Renaissance Center and Kearney Center
What began as a charitable effort by a local church eventually blossomed into The Kearney Center as it is known today. After several men froze to death on Tallahassee’s streets, First Presbyterian Church opened a makeshift overnight shelter in its basement for a few dozen men seeking refuge from the cold. The group operating at First Presbyterian become known as Tallahassee Cold Night Shelter.
Two years later, the Shelter became incorporated and registered as a non-profit agency, and in 1991, the Shelter moved to a new home on West Tennessee Street. For the next two decades, the Shelter experienced tremendous growth and expanded their services to meet diverse client needs. Two of the major expansions of the Shelter were the food program (consisting of community volunteers, churches, and civic groups preparing meals) and the onsite medical clinic.
Although the Shelter was capable of providing individuals with overnight shelter and three meals per day, they did not have the capacity to offer daytime support services. This need was recognized by a group of community partners that included business owners, social service agencies, and concerned citizens. A small warehouse adjacent to the Shelter was purchased and transformed into the Renaissance Community Center (RCC). The RCC served as a venue where multiple service providers could operate in one location and accommodate clients needing social, physical, mental, and educational support services.
The Shelter and the RCC worked together to serve the same population, and subsequently shared many mutual clients. Due to the high volume of clients utilizing its services, the RCC quickly outgrew its facility. The Shelter had already been operating over capacity for years and the need for a new emergency shelter was apparent. The concurrent growth of both agencies yielded an agreement between them to locate their combined operations within a new facility.
In April 2015, the Shelter and Renaissance Community Center moved into a single building to better meet the needs of its growing population, and less than a year later, the two agencies merged and officially became The Kearney Center.
Providing comprehensive emergency services in the same physical space is a new model in Tallahassee, but The Kearney Center has been leading the way in ending homelessness using this model. The Kearney Center experiences growth each month by partnering with community organizations to offer a host of programs. Committed staff members work to meet the diverse needs of this population, and engage them in a variety of activities that help to foster self-sufficiency while preserving their dignity.
The combined efforts of The Kearney Center and its partners have produced an outstanding sense of community that is inspiring others to get involved in local efforts to end homelessness.