Meet Our Mission Partner: Jan Hus Presbyterian Church & Neighborhood House

On Sunday we welcome the Rev. Beverly Dempsey, pastor of Jan Hus Presbyterian Church and Neighborhood House, an FAPC mission partner. Rev. Dempsey will offer a Moment for Mission during worship. Afterward, she will lead a discussion on how faith communities can effectively minister to homeless persons. That event begins at 11 am in Jones Auditorium. Read more about this mission partner here.

When Jan Hus Presbyterian Church put down roots on East 74th Street in the 1870s, the neighborhood was called Little Bohemia. The church (named for a 14th-century Czech theologian and reformer) served a growing population of immigrants—working-class individuals and families struggling to create a life in America's greatest city.

As the immigrant population gradually dispersed across the boroughs, Little Bohemia became the Upper East Side. But Jan Hus continued its mission of welcoming the stranger and serving those most in need. In 21st-century New York, that means the city's growing homeless population.

It is that shared commitment to homeless ministry—not to mention our common Reformed heritage—that made Jan Hus a natural fit as an FAPC mission partner.

Hope through HOAP

The Homeless Outreach & Advocacy Program (HOAP) at Jan Hus has been active in New York City for over 20 years, providing a network of support to the city’s vulnerable in an environment that is warm and welcoming. The program's core activities -- a food pantry, Tuesday Night Dinner Program and the Clothing Store -- serve close to 2,500 people every month.

The Pantry is a lifeline for low-income families, supplementing their food stamps with a wide variety of wholesome foods, including fresh produce. The Tuesday Night Dinner, prepared and served by staff and volunteers, provides a three-course meal, often with live music. The Clothing Store, now housed in two separate “boutiques” for women and men provides high-quality garments for job interviews, as well as work and casual clothing, for the homeless community. The store relies entirely on donations.

In addition to its core programs, HOAP receives mail for some 600 persons with no permanent address. Jan Hus also provides the use of computers, phones and copiers, and assists with preparation of resumes and job applications.

"What's very new is our Tuesday evening homeless outreach worship service," says Rev. Dempsey (left), who is new to the church herself, as of last fall. "This service began in December and has been growing steadily since. It's exciting for us to provide spiritual support to our neighbors, in addition to food and clothing. It is just as fundamental."

This year Jan Hus will open the Center for Urban Discipleship, designed to enable volunteers and staff to reach further into the community to lend critical support to neighbors in need. The goal of the Center is to mitigate the effects of poverty affecting an alarming number of men, women and children in proximity to Jan Hus. The Center also will participate in the ongoing movement to end chronic homelessness in New York City.

The FAPC Partnership

Jan Hus and its homeless outreach program were the beneficiaries of the cash and canned goods collected by FAPC youth in February as part of the Souper Bowl of Caring. In March, the annual Deacons Clothing Drive also benefited the homeless programs of Jan Hus. And in May, Jan Hus participated for the first time as a work site for FAPC Serves, our annual, congregation-wide day of service.

Clearly 2015 has sparked a growing partnership between two congregations that are among the leaders in homeless outreach in New York City. There is great promise in that. And HOAP.

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