Our newest Partners for Life Church
First Presbyterian Church of Sparta, NJ is located in a rural community of 20,000. It's historic sanctuary was built in 1786 and their current membership is about 600 members. Although change does not come easily to a church with such a long history and tradition, The Rev. Dr. Thomas Litteer, pastor of FPC Sparta for the past 13 years has led his congregation in launching a contemporary service and in formulating their Core Values and Bedrock Beliefs summarized in a mission statement: "Growing Followers of Jesus to Serve our World."
Fueled by the concept of a "permission-giving church," individual church members of FPC Sparta have launched ministries guided by the framework of their mission statement. These ministries reach into the nearby HUD housing complex, to soup kitchens in the inner city and to local homeless. Members are active in their community through Faith Builders home repair, a prayer pager system, prayer and healing services, and teams which visit the hospitals. A Special Needs worship service is held weekly for the developmentally challenged. FPCS houses the county's largest food pantry and hosts two semi-annual Rummage sales. This past year over $300,000 was donated to missions by FPCS.
FPC Sparta has not forgotten the unborn within their church family. Keith Koeppel, Director of Pastoral Care and Co-Director of Loving Arms Ministry tells his story:
"...We are no longer surprised by what God brings about. Four years ago as my wife, Connie, was undergoing open-heart surgery she experienced a visitation from Jesus who told her our mission wasn't done yet. Several months later as she was driving by the old (175 years) empty manse she almost slammed on the brakes----the house was to be used in a new ministry! Several weeks later, after research, prayer, and Pastor Tom's blessing,the FPC session agreed to renovate the house and Loving Arms was opened April 2006. Although not a requirement, we encourage adoption. During our research of maternity homes, we encountered another church-based home who also had a memorial garden for the unborn. Again session agreed that it was just a natural extension to construct Comforting Arms to minister to those still suffering from the trauma of abortion."
You are invited to go to the First Presbyterian Church of Sparta website and hear Pastor Tom's sermon of January 20, 2008 "Created in the Image of God."