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Advocacy Work

First Pres, through the Social Justice and Peacemaking Committee, has been working with the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. Here are opportunities for education and advocacy 



DATE CHANGE - Tuesday Dec 7, 6pm - Hunger, Housing, and the 3rd Reconstruction, a Capital Region Truth Commission - Join us on December 7th to learn from the plight, fight, and insight of Capital Region community members who are engaged in struggles around food and housing insecurity. In recent years, New York has passed transformative legislation to meet the needs of poor and marginalized communities relating to food and housing. At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and exacerbated the extent of these crises and thrown millions into poverty and precarity. RSVP here.


Capital Region Poor People's Campaign Organizing Call Tuesday, December 14, 6:30pm Join us at our monthly organizing meeting! We'll reflect on recent actions, have breakouts with our working groups, and plan upcoming events.

In keeping with best practice to protect our community, we will NOT be holding an in-person meeting. Instead, we'll have a Zoom conference call meeting for the Capital Region PPC. RSVP and you will receive the call info. You'll be able to call in with just a phone, but if you have access to a computer with a camera and microphone, it is highly recommended. Please reach out if you have any technical questions.

The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival is bringing together people across the country who are organizing to build a broad and deep national moral movement — led by the poor, impacted, clergy and moral agents and reflecting the great moral teachings — to unite our country from the bottom up.

Continue Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s work confronting the interlocking evils of systemic racism, poverty, militarism, and ecological devastation. RSVP Here.



State Street Forum

December 16, 2021, 12 noon-1:00 pm

Advocating for Housing Justice

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are just beginning to be evident, especially when it comes to housing.  An eviction moratorium has only postponed the eviction of tens of thousands of families who were  unable to pay their rent due to job loss or other factors during the pandemic shutdown.  The recovery of our economy is dependent on finding a solution to this impending crisis, but the solutions must be more than band-aids.  Can churches and other faith communities be a part of the solution?

Our conversation will be informed by the insights of Ted Houghton, President of Gateway Housing, a newly-established not-for-profit organization that seeks to promote expansion of housing for those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in New York City and across the state.  We'll also hear from a minister whose congregation is directly involved with creating affordable housing in its community.



A Message from Social Justice & Peacemaking Committee

Gift giving time is here! It is also a time to think about all that wrapping paper, bags and bows. The December issue of Real Simple magazine offers several easy ideas for recycling: Avoid buying bags, balloons, and bows made of polyester film, do the quick scrunch test-if you crumple paper and it bounces back, it likely cannot be recycled and think about buying wrapping paper that includes recycled materials. Click here to find more information about recycling during the Christmas season.

The little things we do are just as important as the big ones.

Looking Ahead
January Book Group

Join us for 4 Wednesday evenings in January via zoom for a book group hosted by Joe Paperone, Lead Organizer for the Labor-Religion Coalition of NYS. All FOCUS churches are participating. Details re: time and zoom link will be available later. Thought you might want to get this book now from your library or local independent bookstore.
Stride Toward Freedom by Martin Luther King, Jr. 
Description: MLK’s classic account of the first successful large-scale act of nonviolent resistance in America: the Montgomery bus boycott.
A young Dr. King wrote Stride Toward Freedom just 2 years after the successful completion of the boycott. In his memoir about the event, he tells the stories that informed his radical political thinking before, during, and after the boycott—from first witnessing economic injustice as a teenager and watching his parents experience discrimination to his decision to begin working with the NAACP. Throughout, he demonstrates how activism and leadership can come from any experience at any age.
Comprehensive and intimate, Stride Toward Freedom emphasizes the collective nature of the movement and includes King’s experiences learning from other activists working on the boycott, including Mrs. Rosa Parks and Claudette Colvin. It traces the phenomenal journey of a community and shows how the 28-year-old Dr. King, with his conviction for equality and nonviolence, helped transform the nation and the world.
We’ll study in four sessions and look at the following themes: the context of Montgomery and integration in 1955, nonviolence and social change, the role of faith communities, and King’s development between Montgomery and the Poor People’s Campaign. 

Youth Group News

High school youth - don’t miss out!
Gatherings for youth in high school on Sunday evenings 5-7pm!!
This could be the best part of your week!
Food - Friends - Fun

Youth will enter from the parking lot door & sign-in each week (for contact tracing + attendance purposes). We will follow safety protocols including masking and distancing while in doors. We have new air purifiers to further mitigate risk. If/when we eat, it MUST be distanced. We will meet either in the 2nd floor youth room OR one of the larger 3rd floor Upper Rooms. This is for high schoolers only at this time.

Please text or email Molly (518-810-3158) if you can join us Sunday 5-7pm! And pls indicate your pizza preference (cheese or pepperoni). 
We look forward to seeing you soon!


Text @mdowellb to 81010 
To sign up for text alerts about youth events and info!


Last Tuesday saw the final Vigil of the season as we shivered in front of Westminster Presbyterian Church.  Begun last spring, the Vigil was held every Tuesday from noon to 1:00 pm to make a statement against racial injustice.  Some of us carried “Black Lives Matter” signs, other signs bore the names of victims, and a broad banner announced to any passer-by our purpose of the Vigil.  Most of us standing there were from Westminster, though a few came from First Pres, and we encourage more of our membership to participate in the future.  So far, that future is scheduled for February, but we’ll see what Mother Nature has in store.  Whenever we do resume the Vigil you are welcome to participate whenever you can.  Further information will be provided as we approach that time.  -Rachel Smith
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Would you like to help run the audio-visual systems during the church service? You would control the soundboard, which broadcasts the audio throughout the sanctuary and the Internet broadcasting software that delivers the Facebook livestream. And, of course, you'd receive full training. 

Our team shares these duties so that your commitment would be between 8 - 12 Sundays per year. 

If interested, please contact Dwight Cheu at We also welcome high school students too -- this would be a great introduction to audio and video broadcasting.

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Would you like to sponsor a poinsettia plant to decorate the sanctuary in Advent and Christmas this year? You may do so in honor or memory of a loved one, and that dedication will be noted in the worship bulletin  on December 19, 24, 25 & January 2. There are two ways to make your dedication. 1) By mailing a check to the church for a minimum of $16 per poinsettia, along with a note that spells out the dedication as well as name of the dedicator. It MUST arrive at the church by December 12. 2) By emailing the church office a note that spells out the dedication as well as name of the dedicator. Then visit the website and make your payment online.
Deadline is December 12.
Our goal is to have all the flowers sponsored as well decorate the sanctuary for our celebration of Jesus’ birth and the 12 days of Christmas.
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Finger Labyrinth Walks and Meditations occur each Thursday in December at 12:30pm via Zoom. Pastor Miriam, Certified Advanced Labyrinth Facilitator, leads each session. and our time together is 30 minutes. This time is open to all, whether you’ve walked a labyrinth in the past or not. Register here for Thursday, December 2, to receive the zoom link. Please have a Finger Labyrinth available - you can download a paper version if you don’t have your own or Jamie in the church office. Join us!

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WANTED: 2 additional people willing to take one Sunday a month to facilitate the use of our propane patio heaters for Fellowship Time. Responsibilities: position and hook up the propane tanks on Sunday morning, turn on heaters prior to Fellowship Time, turn off heaters after Fellowship Time and unhook the propane tanks so the heaters and propane can be stored safely. If interested please contact Pastor Miriam.  

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The Youth are updating their space on the 2nd floor! We are looking for donations of gently used items to update & refresh the space. Please contact Molly or 518-810-3158 if you have any of the following to donate:

Large TV to hang on wall (that works with Roku),
wall mount for large TV,
Area rugs,
Plants and/or hanging contraptions for plants,
Individual seating (bean bags, gaming chairs, comfortable arm chairs),
Cushions for floor sitting.



Tuesday, 11/30    9:00am   Men’s Bible Study via zoom
                             6:30pm   FOCUS Board Meeting via zoom

Wednes., 12/1    11:00am   Staff Meeting

Thurs., 12/2        7:00am   Men's Bible Study (Rose Room)
                          12:00pm   Presbytery Meeting
                          12:30pm   Finger Labyrinth Walk and Meditation

                            7:15pm   Soloist/Choir Rehearsal

Saturday, 12/4    9:30am   Officer Training

Sunday, 12/5      9:00am   Adult Education via Zoom
                            9:00am   Youth Education via Zoom
                            9:15am   Children’s Education via Zoom
                            9:45am   Soloists Rehearsal
                          10:30am   In-Person Worship Service and
                                           Live Streaming Worship Service on Facebook
                          11:30am   Outside Fellowship Time
                            5:00pm   High School Youth Gathering

Tuesday, 12/7      9:00am   Men’s Bible Study via zoom
                             5:30pm   Membership Committee Meeting
                             5:30pm   Outreach Committee Meeting
                             5:30pm   Property Committee Meeting
                             5:30pm   Worship Committee Meeting
                             7:30pm   Christian Education Committee Meeting
                             7:30pm   Social Justice & Peacemaking Committee

Wednes., 12/8     5:00pm   Finance Committee Meeting
                             6:30pm   SWAT Team
                             7:00pm   Dads' Small Group

Thurs., 12/9         7:00am   Men's Bible Study (Rose Room)
                           12:30pm   Finger Labyrinth Walk and Meditation
                             7:15pm   Soloist/Choir Rehearsal

Sunday, 12/12    9:00am   Adult Education via Zoom
                            9:00am   Youth Education via Zoom
                            9:15am   Children’s Education via Zoom
                            9:45am   Soloists Rehearsal
                          10:30am   In-Person Worship Service and
                                           Live Streaming Worship Service on Facebook
                          11:30am   Outside Fellowship Time
                            5:00pm   High School Youth Gathering

Tuesday, 12/14    9:00am   Men’s Bible Study via zoom
                           11:30am   Clergy Meeting
                             7:00pm   Joint Session-Deacon Meeting

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