Mission work continues at First Presbyterian Church


First Presbyterian Church, 11 Queen St., Lyons, adapted its missions to the needs of the people during the last 15 months, all while keeping staff, volunteers and the general public as safe as possible. 

The Lyons Community Food Pantry never closed. Starting in March 2020, under the leadership of coordinator Sharon Lubitow, the program went from serving emergency food via a makeshift “food ramp” to no-contact home deliveries and in-person, distanced pickups. During that time, 45,414 meals went to 1,260 households.  

Thrift shop volunteers sorted donations and shopped for clients until they could reopen.  

While those missions served current food and clothing needs in the community, Scott Simmons was making plans for this year’s Victory Garden of Hope behind the church. He worked with Master Gardeners from the Cornell Cooperative Extension and volunteers to build and tend the garden, which includes raised beds, trellises and drip lines to help produce the greatest yield in an environmentally friendly way. Food Pantry clients have received garlic scapes, beet greens and early season broccoli. 

The Victory Garden of Hope behind First Presbyterian Church in Lyons.

The music ministry also adapted to the changing needs of the people. Before March 2020, the choir offered weekly Hymn Sings on Facebook during Thursday night choir rehearsals. For the last year, in an effort to help viewers through the pandemic, sing-alongs were streamed twice a week by church lay preacher Beth Whitbeck and the Rev. Dr. Cynthia Huling Hummel, of Elmira. Hummel and Whitbeck also took turns streaming the weekly Sunday services on the church’s Facebook page from their homes.  

Church musicians Camille Clark and Phil Tippens added live organ with flute “concerts” after the virtual services. Amplified through a sound system in the church’s steeple, music from the 1928 Ernest & Son pipe organ filled the neighborhood. Some locals parked near the church and sang along, while others would listen from their home or on Facebook. 

As congregation members returned to church for Palm Sunday services, Martha Baily offered socially distanced Sunday School for youth.  

Socially distant Sunday School classes start up as congregation members return to church.

Sprinkled throughout the 15 months were other pick-me-ups — church family Zoom meetings on Mondays, virtual kids craft times and deliveries of Advent wreaths, Christmas cookies, palm crosses and children’s artwork. The church welcomed two new members via Zoom, one local and one in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. 

Parsons Pipe Organ Builders of Canandaigua is rebuilding the console of the church’s 100-year-old pipe organ. The church was offered $1,000 to match the first $1,000 that comes in as donations toward the next phase of renovations. Once the console is finished and reinstalled this fall, the next phase will be to replace the leather and paper towel gaskets that do not allow the bass pipes to speak loudly.  

“Most of the renovations we have had done in the last four years have made an audible difference,” Clark said. “The re-leathering of the console will not, but it will open up more possibilities for Phil, as all voices will once again be available.”  

Call 315-946-4723, email lyonspcwebmaster@gmail.com, or visit lyonspresbyterianny.org or facebook.com/lyonspresbyterianny for information.