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“So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” — Matthew 20:16

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Susan Stack
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2008 Community Transformation Award

Presbyterian Association for Community Transformation (PACT)

Children pose for a photo

Children from the First Presbyterian Church of Tifton. Photo courtesy of PACT.

The Community Transformation Award, presented by the Presbyterian Association for Community Transformation (PACT), recognizes congregations that, either through ecumenical or interfaith community ministry or through a special project of the congregation, have been faithful and creative in ministry to and with the community.

The First Presbyterian Church of Tifton, Georgia, is the 2008 recipient of the award that was announced at the PC(USA)’s General Assembly — PHEWA’s Music and Awards Reception — and presented to them in their local community.

Tifton, Georgia, is located in the Deep South where the church and community are tackling historic issues of segregation. For the last three years, First Presbyterian Church and the AME Church have worshipped together in a congregational exchange. This exchange has been enthusiastically supported and has helped to bridge the gap between Tifton’s African-American and Caucasian communities.

Another ministry that has tried to bridge the gap came about when Bill Christman, First Presbyterian’s pastor, began serving as chaplain of the Tifton Judicial Circuit Day Reporting Center (DRC) in 2005. DRC is a state-sponsored program that works with those convicted of crimes, now on parole. The program is non-residential but is open for both day and night classes directed toward substance abuse, education, employment and cognitive skills classes. Reduced recidivism and improvement to the lives of ex-offenders are the goals of the program. The church provides Bibles for the Bible classes and lunch several times a month for all of the men and women in the program.

That program expanded into an Angel Tree Christmas Party in 2004 for children who had at least one parent incarcerated in prison. In 2006 the church began to sponsor Summer Day Camps for the children attending the Angel Tree Christmas Party and for those children of participants in the DRC program.

PACT is pleased to award First Presbyterian Church, Tifton, Georgia, for their efforts in fostering relationships across historic divisions.