Back in 1968, a cooperative ministry was developed among Emmanuel Baptist, Westminster Presbyterian, First Presbyterian, and Trinity Methodist Churches, all mere blocks from each other in Albany, NY, to work together on some common goals. Israel AME Church joined in 1989, and Delmar Reformed Church earlier this century.
The mission statement of the FOCUS Churches: “Six covenant churches, four faith affiliates, and two faith partners, doing together what we cannot do alone. United in a common calling to respond to our neighbor’s needs in the city of Albany and beyond, as God’s servant people in a broken and hurting world.” Furthermore, in its statement seeking interns from Siena College, the mission “centers on providing presence, support, and advocacy for the victims of society’s injustice and neglect, speaking truth in places of power on the behalf of the powerless, and offering new possibilities of wholeness to the lonely and alienated.”
One of the early FOCUS programs was the FOCUS Food Pantry. From what I have been told, this was set up to deal with people in need because of the economic downturn of the time; it’s been going on for over 30 years, because the need has never gone away. You can read about the breakfast projects, community gardens, school supply project and other activities here. “FOCUS is intentional in balancing labors of charity with acts of justice by participating in the work of seeking long term solutions to end hunger and poverty.”
At least four times a year, thrice in the summer and once in the winter, there are joint services, allowing for the possibility that the unity from people of faith is greater than any pedestrian denominational differences.
I’ve been proud to be a member of a FOCUS church since 1984.
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