In September, 2012, a number of people from various congregations in Amherst, Williamsville and Clarence began organizing a religious coalition to create a Northtowns satellite for the Family Justice Center (FJC). The FJC provides assistance to people seeking to escape domestic violence situations. Their main office is in downtown Buffalo and a satellite office was opened in Orchard Park in 2011. Often people in need of assistance in our area are referred to the Orchard Park site, which highlights the need for such a satellite here. Several members from North Church have been active in the coalition since October, and in January the Session voted to make North Church an official member.
The search for a site for the Northtowns satellite led the coalition’s site committee to tour the North Church manse. Our manse provides an ideal location for discrete access through our parking lot and plenty of rooms for interviews and respite. On January 6th, several Session members toured the downtown FJC facility. Then, after much discussion and prayer, voted in February to accept the recommendation from our Property and Mission committees to approve the use of the manse as the Northtowns satellite, assuming all zoning ordinances and building codes can be satisfied for the renovations that will need to be done. The coalition will undertake the fundraising for renovations, and a lease arrangement will be made between North Church and FJC.
This is a wonderful opportunity for North Church to respond to a crying need in our community in an immediate and material way. It’s not often that God’s Spirit leads us to such a clear and concrete response. Throughout this process, though, the Session has been aware of the Spirit’s leading, recognizing that providing safe haven for those who are abused is an historical role for the Church in the world. But there are still many details to be ironed out. And you may have a number of questions. Some of those questions can be answered this Sunday, February 24th, when Mary Travers Murphy, executive director of FJC, and Elizabeth Greno, coordinator of the Northtowns Coalition, will be here following the 10:45 worship service to answer your questions. Please plan to stay after worship this Sunday to meet in Westminster Hall to share some special refreshments and learn more about this exciting opportunity for mission to our community.