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First Presbyterian puts the needy first

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First Presbyterian Church has had Larry Sydow as interim pastor for about a year now, and he is happy with what he’s seen there.

“I attend the mission meetings,” Sydow said, “and I am really amazed at their attitude toward the homeless and the hurting in that they don’t see them as being a burden, they really have a heartfelt concern for these people. It’s good to hear because you hear so much of the other.”
He knows the people he helps are troubled and that is what he is ministering to.
“I don’t see many people who come for help, coming to worship,” Sydow said, “and I don’t expect them to. They have more immediate needs. My problem with some churches and groups is, in order to receive a hot meal or needed item, a person has to attend a service.”
First Presbyterian Church is going on its 118th year in Roswell, and it has a long tradition of service from its school in the early years to its multiple outreach programs of today.
“We have people who volunteer with the Community Kitchen weekly,” Sydow said. “They serve there and they do fundraising to help the community kitchen to move to its new location.”
Members of First Presbyterian Church have outreaches to a number of local groups including the Roswell Refuge, Habitat for Humanity, Wings for Life, the Salvation Army and CASA.
“They’re also active with Presbyterian Outreach,” Sydow said, “and Teaching Social Justice Seminar in New Mexico.”
Some of their members get deeply involved with some of the groups.
“The treasurer of Habitat for Humanity, Bob Williams,” Sydow said, “is a member of First Presbyterian.”
They also work with Westminster Presbyterian Church on a local outreach program.
“We send money to Westminster,” Sydow said, “that can be used primarily for shut-off lights or gas and such, we work with them on that.”
Some churches have money to give directly to the needy, First Presbyterian doesn’t do that.
“We don’t have money in the office to hand out,” Sydow said. “Some churches have a slush fund for people who are hungry. We used to have a gas voucher or a credit card, and that may come back when they get a full time pastor.”
The work of First Presbyterian Church’s members is not limited to charities and nonprofits.
“They make quilts for the homeless and people affected by disasters,” Sydow said. “They help cleaning up under bridges on the walking path.”
On a global scale they’re active, too.
“There’s a family in Pakistan,” he said. “They call him the moderator for all of Pakistan. Members of the church are supporting that. We also help Presbyterian disaster assistance.”
Sydow is from a Lutheran background, but he said the adjustment to pastoring a Presbyterian church has been easy.
“Going from Lutheran to Presbyterian has not been that hard,” he said, “because we have so much in common. What has impressed me over the past year is how very much alike we are and how the spirit of love and compassion flows.”
Features reporter Curtis M. Michaels can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.