A profound feature of being Presbyterian is our emphasis of the priesthood of all believers. This means we affirm that God equally calls each and every one of us to the ministries of Christ’s church, regardless of our vocation or ordination status.
A FEW months ago, my inbox pinged, letting me know I had an email from Church Elder, Phil Ma. Phil had an idea: with the many furloughs, layoffs and anxiety surrounding employment at the mercy of a pandemic, could the church start an employment support group?
At first glance, someone reading the email might make the same mistake that I did and overlook a crucial fact. Phil also shared that he himself had just been a victim of the harsh economic realities and had lost his job. In his email message, he moved quickly from “I’ve been laid off along with the majority of my
industry” to “I want to see how we, as a family of faith, can support one another and journey together.”
This is how the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church Employment Support Group began. Created and coordinated by Phil, it is supported with fellow Church Officers Kathy Murray and Marco Michael. The support group has grown into a weekly meeting and provides prayerful discussion, speakers, and a dedicated Slack channel filled with resources and other forms of assistance.
The trajectory of Phil’s idea into a caring and supportive space for those who are recently unemployed is the very vision of Community Groups. Each Community Group presents the unique venue to walk with your siblings in Christ. In the midst of a pandemic and economic recession, Community Groups
are essential to the life of faith.
Here is the additional blessing of this story. Although the primary purpose of the group is mutual support and compassion, at least two of the members have already secured new jobs! One even came directly from a new friendship made in the Employment Support Group. Sometimes the most difficult experiences bring out the best in us, the Christ in us.