A New Worshiping Community's Experience with the Presbyterian Giving Catalog
A Reflection by Mickey Fenn, Pastor of The Way Station Community in Camarillo, California
Just call us the mouse that roared.
From the mighty sound of our three-person worship band to our broad network of church and community partnerships, I see The Way Station Community as the little church that could. And regularly does.
Although we’re a small new worshiping community, we know that we can greatly increase our impact by partnering with others. We know ourselves well enough to say that we don’t want to reinvent the wheel. We’re not here to create some kind of big outreach or compete with other churches. We want to go along and partner to be the hands and feet that are needed wherever other churches or communities need our help. Our mission is grounded in finding rest and connection, encountering Jesus and finding community.
Whenever we partner with other churches and organizations in our wider community, we invariably find that all of those old adages are true: There’s strength in numbers, and two heads are definitely better than one!
One of our most frequent partners in mission is the Living Hope Church in our neighboring community of Port Hueneme, California. We partner with Living Hope quite a bit, wherever something is needed, including rotating our pulpit with their pastor, Ron Urzua. I thought of them immediately when I realized that we had worked together on all kinds of local projects but had never done anything globally.
Just before Christmas, I remembered thinking about the Presbyterian Mission Agency and a catalog I recalled seeing. And I kid you not, two days later the catalog comes in the mail! So, I started looking through it, thinking that if we partnered with somebody else, we
could double what we could do alone.
I loved the idea of a family farm, the animals, the tools and the instructions. After I took the idea to our vision committee, who loved it, I went right to my longtime friend, Jenn Chow, a ruling elder at Living Hope, and said, ‘”Hey, do you think you would want to partner with us on this family farm? Here’s what it is, what it costs, and this is what we’re trying to raise.” She immediately said yes.
The beauty of the Presbyterian Giving Catalog — especially when churches are working on a project together — is that not only is there satisfaction when a joint fundraising goal is set and met, but there is also a deep sense of gratification in the opportunity to make a specific impact on a group of people.
What I really liked about the projects in the catalog that we were raising money for was that there was going to be actual education. It wasn’t just, “Here, have some chickens and some cows, but we’re also going to help train you into how to best do what you need to do.” I’ve always personally liked the idea of being able to try to give people the means to support themselves.
We ultimately decided to raise enough money together to purchase a family farm and a beehive. And although our joint project was originally intended to conclude at Christmas, both congregations preferred to hold it open for three or four extra weeks until the goal was met, and, in fact, was exceeded. In the end, we raised enough for the family farm and — not one — but two beehives.
As we look again toward partnering on the catalog this Christmas, we anticipate challenging our respective communities to again surpass our goal, even in a post-COVID-19 world.
I believe that our small but mighty church is up to the challenge. I think of the mustard seed, the smallness of it, and our wanting to do something so big. I know we can, with God’s help, because our hearts and our pockets are open. If this story of small size, big impact in any way inspires you, it is our prayer that you may “go and do likewise.”
"I think of the mustard seed ... the smallness of it, and our wanting to do something so big.
I know we can, with God’s help, because our hearts and our pockets are open."
Mickey Fenn, Pastor
The Way Station Community, Camarillo, California