Church To Host ‘Furloughed Friends’ Amid Shutdown

Ross Bryan, Gale Dyke and Vickie Eggleston prepare for Furloughed Friends Friday dinner at First Presbyterian Church. Submitted photo

WARREN, Pa. — Many federal employees have been without work and paychecks for more than a month.

A desire to help has taken shape as a group from First Presbyterian Church of Warren, Pa., has decided to welcome their furloughed federal friends for dinner.

“It was the inspiration of one of our members,” Pastor Rebecca Taylor said. “They became aware, mostly through comments on Facebook, of the challenges for families impacted by the government shutdown.”

“The inspiration was to offer support and a good warm meal and a time of fellowship for all who are similarly impacted,” Taylor said.

On Friday, the First Presbyterian Church at 300 Market St. in Warren will host Furloughed Friends Friday.

“First Presbyterian Church is hosting a free dinner for the currently furloughed federal government employees and their families,” Carrie Duckett said. “The ham dinner buffet will be open from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 25, in Fellowship Hall downstairs.”

There will also be some door prizes to help ease the lean times.

“Donated door prizes such as laundry detergent, gas cards and gift cards will be given away throughout the evening,” Duckett said. “Anyone wishing to help support this please contact the church office at 814-723-9200.”

The idea to serve dinner for the furloughed is one that has to happen soon, no matter how long the shutdown lasts.

“It came up suddenly, but it is a response as immediately as we could pull it off,” Taylor said. “It’ll be put together in a week.”

Church officials didn’t want to look back “six months from now and say, ‘We could have done something,'” she said.

“It was approved by our officers Thursday evening,” she said.

“There have been a number of volunteers who immediately got into action. We probably have six or eight hard at work, very committed to it.”

The church is sharing the news through social media and has received positive feedback and are thinking 150 or more people might attend.

Exactly how many furloughed federal employees and family members will attend, “We do not know,” Taylor said. “We are just going to trust that God is going to bless the effort and we are going to have plenty of food.”

“If we have too much, we are planning to have left-overs distributed among the families,” she said. “Food will be wasted.”

The dinner fits the church’s focus.

“Some of this has to do with our shift in focus here at First Presbyterian,” Taylor said. “We’re looking for ways to increase our engagement and connection with the community.”