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Social Justice & Mission Programs

The Social Justice & Mission at First Presbyterian Church is built around the call of the PC (USA) to “reveal God’s grace in places of suffering and need, to resist the forces that tyrannize, and to support the forces that restore the dignity of all.”

At First Church, we follow the call of the Presbyterian Church (USA) to “reveal God’s grace in places of suffering and need, to resist the forces that tyrannize, and to support the forces that restore the dignity of all.” The programs within our Social Justice and Mission Ministry are based on partnership, volunteer service and education. We contribute to partner organizations both financially and with hands-on volunteer service. This enables us to work with individuals who best know the needs of the communities and populations they serve. In turn, we are educated on important issues, enabling us to become advocates for change as we seek equity and justice in the world.

Our program areas of focus are Cuba, Earth Care, Facing Racism, LGBTQ, and Refugees & Immigration. Within each program, volunteers meet in action groups, typically monthly, to organize service activities, consider themes for education and advocacy efforts, and provide discernment around community partnerships.

We also serve as the home of St. Joe’s Soup Kitchen, which provides meals to hungry New Yorkers every Saturday. Volunteer meal preparers and servers are welcome.

As a church located in Greenwich Village, we feel a strong connection to the arts. Through our Art at First program, we feature art exhibitions and events related to our social justice and mission focus.

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LGBTQ Action Group

Situated in Greenwich Village, less than a mile from Stonewall, First Presbyterian Church has long supported the LGBTQ community. 

FPC is an open and inclusive church, and also a proud member of More Light Presbyterians, an organization that is working toward the full participation of LGBTQ people throughout the Presbyterian Church (USA) and society.

The LGBTQ Action Group produces a variety of programming and activities including the church-wide involvement in the annual spring-time AIDS Walk Fundraiser in Central Park and the summer Gay Pride Parade Water Table. 

Other events include regular Sunday brunches, movies, speakers, dinners and cocktail parties. The group provides support for the Hetrick Martin Institute, the nation’s oldest and largest nonprofit leader in LGBTQIA+ youth service programming, through serving dinners, parties and a new mentoring program. The LGBTQ Action Group is now also working with Rainbow Railroad, a charitable organization created to rescue LGBTQ+ persons whose lives are in imminent danger from state-tolerated anti-gay terror. As a part of a fundraising effort, the group presented a speaker and riveting educational movie. These two programs will be expanded during the upcoming year.

For more information contact Ashley Bair at [email protected].

Global Missions

First Presbyterian’s connection with Cuba began in 2011  when several members of the congregation along with pastoral staff visited the country. In the following years, additional groups from FPC visited and began exploring the idea of building a partnership with a Cuban Presbyterian church. In 2016 a Covenant Agreement was made official between First Presbyterian Church and Taguasco Reformed Presbyterian Church in Taguasco, Cuba. The agreement between our two churches is focused on partnership, mutuality, and an aim to learn from one another and explore areas for joint initiatives.

The partnership with Taguasco is the heart of our Cuba Program at FPC. Taguasco is located in the center of Cuba. It is a small church in terms of membership but broadly serves the surrounding community. The church has programs for children and seniors and is widely known as a welcoming, open and inclusive congregation. Though our relationship is not focused on financial contributions, we give financial support for Taguasco’s Lunch and Laundry project which provides laundry service, breakfast and lunch for 35 seniors each week.

At First Church we hold Cuba Sunday annually, a day when we celebrate our partnership with Taguasco in worship through a bilingual service. We also facilitate visits between FPC and Taguasco to build connections between the congregations and strengthen relationships. In addition to the partnership with Taguasco our staff and Cuba Action Group look for ways to engage with larger PC(USA) Cuba initiatives and to connect with other congregations engaged in Cuba church partnerships.

Click Here to access ‘Su Voz’ here – daily devotions written by Presbyterian Reformed Church in Cuba members.

For more information contact Sorrel Ann Alburger at [email protected].

Facing Racism Action Group

With our Facing Racism program, we acknowledge that we have work to do as a community. Racism is systemic, pervasive, and oppressive. Racism is at times blatant and at other times subtle. Regardless of its form, racism is unjust. We know at FPC that we do not have a history without blemishes in this area, and that we still have much to learn. We aim to listen, educate ourselves, raise awareness where we can, and work against racism in an effort to help build the Beloved Community.

In June 2020, First Church accepted the invitation of the PC(USA) to become a Matthew 25 church, choosing the focus area of dismantling structural racism. The Session answered this call knowing that the shift to equity would only be fully realized if those of us who want to see change in the United States lean in and commit to doing the necessary and difficult work required of us. In accepting this invitation, FPC made a commitment to antiracism work with our staff, lay leadership, and congregation.

An investigation of our history researched and written by the First Church History Group produced the report Old First and Slavery, which was accepted by Session in January 2022. The report and a display are available both online and on the kiosk in the main lobby. Members of the congregation are encouraged to engage with this report and the programs being offered in support of it as we seek to discern how we are called to respond. Educational and service work, the development of stronger community partnerships with groups such as George Jackson Academy and Harlem Grown, an emphasis on intersectionality, and collaboration with other Social Justice Action Groups are among the ways we work for impactful change toward racial justice.

Facing Racism and Art At First are collaborating in 2023 to produce Creatives Create: Bending the Arc Toward Justice an installation and performance opportunity for creators to share works which explore their understanding of race and justice, how they think about intersections of race and faith, or how they have experienced actions which lead toward a just community. Please review the brochure here and contact [email protected] with questions or to participate.

Please follow the link here for educational resources to use in your own time for reading, listening, and learning about racial justice.

For more information contact Facing Racing Co-Chair Suzanne Mecs at [email protected].

Art at First Action Group

Art at First embraces the creative spark in all of God’s children. We encourage this aspect of our sacred lives by: Opening our doors as a community venue for artists to gather and display or perform their work; providing space for arts-based spiritual formation, education, and fellowship; and engaging our congregation and community at the intersections of art and faith, peace, and justice.

We do this through hosting regular art exhibitions in our Great Hall Gallery as well as producing performing arts events through First Acts. We welcome arts lovers and artists from the greater NYC community to join us! Want to get involved? Contact [email protected].

View Art at First’s upcoming events schedule and calendar presenting meaningful art about spirituality, social justice, and more in The Great Hall Gallery.


Refugees & Immigration Action Group

Refugees and Immigration sponsors at least one person or family each year and develops a relationship with them as they begin their lives in the United States. Our families are recommended to us from Church World Services and are often fleeing their home country or displaced due to war or natural disaster. Depending on the need, we offer assistance as they settle into an apartment, and provide counseling, physical and financial support.

First Presbyterian holds clothing, household and food drives related to this effort throughout the year. There are many ways to participate including offering pro-bono legal or health advice, tutoring, childcare, sharing a meal, shopping, or providing transportation. There are many ways to participate including offering pro-bono legal or health advice, tutoring, childcare, sharing a meal, shopping, or providing transportation.

For more information contact Refugees & Immigration Action Group Chair Charlotte Walker-Said at [email protected].

Earth Care Social Justice Action Group

Focusing on environmental justice, the Earth Care Action Group provides ways to be a better steward of the planet, our neighborhood, and our building. Their many activities include regular gardening workdays on our property, watering the street tree beds surrounding the church, educational documentaries, outdoor movies, cook-outs, community clean-up days, and educational programs about all things Earth Care, including city composting and recycling.

Through the active tending and care of our church surroundings spearheaded by the Action Group and realized by enthusiastic, hard-working volunteers, the gardens have now been honored as a registered natural habitat.

Along with Art at First, Earth Care created the exciting new Creatives Create program presented in May 2022 which, through art and performance, put a spotlight on our church’s garden and this amazing gift from God, planet earth. 

Along with our Trustees, Earth Care is also working toward the goal of divesting our endowment away from fossil fuels, and advocates on a regular basis for Earth friendly legislation, through letter writing campaigns, education, and petitions.  Through its efforts, and church actions, the Action Group has achieved the designation of an “Earth Care Certified Congregation.” from the PCUSA, which requires yearly re-certification.

The Earth Care Action Group is calling on First Church to join the fossil fuel divestment movement. To learn more click here.

For more information email [email protected].

Presbyterian Women Action Group

Join Presbyterian Women (PW) for this year’s study entitled “Celebrating Sabbath.” Each month we look at how the concept of sabbath runs through both the Old and New Testaments, challenging us to think deeper about rest and peace, as well as justice and community. We have two monthly PW circles. Participants are welcome to join at any point and move between the two at their convenience. For more information, please contact Presbyterian Women Chair Lara Mullarkey at [email protected] or simply drop in. There is always room at the table (or on the ZOOM screen). 
Presbyterian Women – Sunday Circle – First Sundays of the month, 12:30-1:30 p.m. (IN PERSON) – FPCNYC library
Presbyterian Women – Tuesday Circle – First Tuesday of the month, 8:00 – 9:00 p.m. (VIRTUAL) – ZOOM Meeting ID: 814 705 910

Upcoming Social Justice & Mission Events