National and International
Haiti Reforestation Partnership
First Presbyterian Church supports HRP the US-based organization that financially supports and provides leadership for CODEP, a community of 750 Haitians that over the last 31 years have planted 15 million trees covering 6,000 acres of previously baron mountains. The trees provide fruit and coffee, their leaves create compost and topsoil where vegetable gardens are grown, the trees slow and absorb rain runoff creating clear streams and prevent flooding, and the trees absorb CO2. Visit https://haitireforest.org/ to learn more and see how many trees you need to “sponsor” to offset your carbon footprint!
First Presbyterian Church has an on-going partnership with the Letohrad Parish of the Evangelical Church of the Czech Republic (ECCB), as documented by a new seven-year partnership agreement signed in 2016. During our relationship, FPC members lead English To The Church camps for children and youth (similar to our Vacation Bible School at FPC) and teach English to Czechs of all ages during English Tutoring, now called Language, Culture and Church (LCC). We have hosted numerous representatives and youth from the Letohrad Parish in Annapolis throughout our two decades of engagement. A new venture called Extended Volunteer Program (EVP) is underway; visit our blog on this 2017 adventure. This partnership enhances our understanding of the people and culture of the Czech Republic. For more information, contact Steve Hays, Czech Partnership Chair. Please read a "Called to Hope" from our Czech partners.
First Presbyterian Church welcomed a refugee family of five from Iraq in 2016. The church partnered with World Relief Anne Arundel to support the family’ resettlement in our area. In preparation for their arrival, the church collected donations for a Welcome Kit and gently used furniture for their home here. The congregation hosted many dinners and social events after their arrival so that more members of the congregation could meet them. While World Relief took care of initial appointments, getting the family set up with immediate medical needs and Social Security accounts, church volunteers handled most of the job and housing searches, starting the children in school, getting them local doctors and helping them with additional guidance to make their resettlement successful..The family used the ZW apartment as temporary housing until an Arnold townhouse became available. This past summer, the family bought a house just two doors down from their rented townhouse. The children attend public school on the Broadneck Peninsula. Their parents have completed English and job training, received their driver's licenses, and secured employment. Volunteers from our congregation continue to provide hospitality, fellowship, employment and education guidance, health insurance assistance, instruction in English, babysitting, and taking the family on outings. To join this active committee, reach out to the church office.
In 2017, First Presbyterian Church began exploring a relationship with the Caibarién Church of Cuba, through our Presbytery of Baltimore. Since then, several groups have traveled to Cuba annually to determine and expand on the specifics of an on-going church relationship. In 2018, an agreement was signed between these two communities of faith - First Presbyterian and the Church of Caibarién. FPC members helped oversee a Vacation Bible School for Caibarien menbers in 2019 and look forward to helping again this summer. To learn more about Cuba, see flyer.
(Pictured: Encuento meeting in Cuba, 2019)
Connect Rwanda was an outgrowth of the year spent in Rwanda by FPC members, Claudia and Steve Hays in 2013-14'. Claudia, a physician contracted to train young medical residents for the year, and Steve found himself teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) to boys in an orphanage outside of Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. Steve's volunteer efforts morphed into volunteering in Rwandan schools where 'need' was immediately realized.
Today, Connect Rwanda, after careful incubation at First Presbyterian is its own separate 501(c)3 nonprofit. Run by an all-volunteer board, Connect Rwanda’s primary objectives are to bring technology to the classrooms of Rwanda, promote teacher growth and cultural understanding through collaboration, and to foster goodwill in the world.
Connect Rwanda is always looking for creative and progressive-minded people to join its team. For more information, please contact Steve Hays ([email protected]) or visit our website at www.connectrwanda.org.