By LINDA M. LINONIS
Mission-minded describes the congregation of First Presbyterian Church of Mineral Ridge, which observed its 150th anniversary this year.
The church is involved in and supports mission projects locally, nationally and globally.
Sue McCabe, anniversary chairperson; Jane Meyers, anniversary committee member; and the Rev. Jaimie Milton, pastor since 2012, recently discussed church activities.
The Mineral Ridge Community Parish Fund provides a distribution of food at Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. First Presbyterian provides the storage and distribution site, McCabe said. Other member churches are St. Mary, Ohltown United Methodist and Mineral Ridge Church of Christ, all in Mineral Ridge; New Hope United Methodist in Niles; and Grace Church of the Nazarene in Austintown. The project has existed about 25 years, McCabe said.
“It’s limited to families in need in Mineral Ridge,” she said. The fund is able to help 40 families with a good amount of groceries for the special occasions.
Since 1994, the church also has been a supporter of Niles Community Services, which helps economically disadvantaged people in Niles, Mineral Ridge, McDonald and Weathersfield Township. The church sponsors a fall rummage sale of clothing; proceeds and leftover clothing go to NCS.
Nationally, the youths of the church have been involved in the Souper Bowl of Caring on Super Bowl Sunday, Meyers said. The project promotes collection of funds and food that are donated to community and church organizations to disperse.
The church also has been involved in a Habitat for Humanity project in flood-damaged Americus, Ga., and some members went on a mission trip to Mexico in 1994 to build a residence for homeless children.
The congregation and church school participate in a monthly mission project of sending a “care box” to a soldier in Afghanistan who shares items with fellow soldiers. McCabe said that recalled a similar project during World War II.
In 2004, Meyers said, the church began sponsoring a 2-year-old girl at Montana de Luz, a home in Honduras for children affected by HIV/AIDS. “We’ve seen her grow up through pictures,” she said. The church collects toys for the home.
The church kicked off its 150th anniversary by participating in the 2012 Mineral Ridge Spirit Day Parade with a replica of the early church and in this year’s parade with a replica of the current church. Members wore blue T-shirts with the church name.
For the celebration, the congregation dedicated a memorial cabinet to showcase some of the church memorabilia. McCabe said the display will be changed from time to time. A communion plate from the early 20th century is among pieces.
McCabe, who is an elder, presented children’s sermons once a month and dressed the part with period clothing. “I told the kids that when the church was founded, Abraham Lincoln was president and members walked or used horses to get here,” she said.
“I wanted to convey how God’s love went from generation to generation,” McCabe said.
Activities reflect the “family spirit” of the church, McCabe and Meyers said. “On every fifth Sunday, we have a pot luck lunches after the services. We like to eat together,” Meyers said. McCabe added that someone once told here that the church “was one of ‘eatinest’ churches” she ever saw.
Along those lines, the church sponsors Lenten fish dinners and between 50 and 75 members volunteer. “It’s work but it’s so much fun,” McCabe said.
McCabe described the church of 170 members as “healthy” spiritually and financially. Members look forward to the future and appreciate the past, she said.
Pastor Jaime said, “It’s humbling to be involved in a church with a rich history and be able to work with members who were a part of it and spent their lives here.”
He said through the church one can “see what God has done in the community.”
Pastor Jaimie, his wife, Katie Lindahl, and 8-month-old daughter, Harper, live in the church parsonage.
“This is a true church family,” Meyers said. Both she and McCabe noted that some families go back generations on membership rolls. “It’s welcoming atmosphere,” McCabe said.