So this is how I am spending my Summer vacation. (Not to worry, I will be taking a real vacation!)

My setting for ministry is in an area that has been in long-term economic decline. That affects so much of the ministry here. As with many churches, we view this as an opportunity to shared God’s love with our communities. In a press release to promote the upcoming “An Urban-Rural Dialogue” Conference, I offered this:

“Increasing economic activity through jobs and wages is a direct way for our neighbors to provide things for themselves. Things the First Presbyterian Church now provides indirectly include giving the community two complete and nutritious meals each month, food distributed by the Community Food Pantry, and via its Thrift Store items are sold at far less cost than a person would have to pay at a regular store…”

We are called to mercy and justice

For my colleagues, I want to convey that information differently. We are called to mercy and justice. Mercy is when we provide bread to a hungry person. Justice is when we make it possible for a person to obtain bread through their own means. If you are like me then providing mercy comes a little easier than fighting for justice. I am trying to focus more on the justice side of things these days.

An Invitation: Please Join Me

The New York State Council of Churches will host a dynamic three-day conference, “The Church as a Catalyst for Community Renewal:  An Urban-Rural Dialogue” in Johnstown, July 10-12.

Please look over the information about the conference. I think your participation in it will give you some useful ways to help your ministry setting.

The event will be held at the First Presbyterian Church, 37 S. Market St. Registration and more information can be found at the New York State Council of Churches website:

Click here to register

Leonard Sponaugle is a Minister of Word and Sacrament at the First Presbyterian Church in Johnstown. He grew up in the Northwest and now resides in the Northeast. He longs to return to his beloved NW. He is in his fourth year at the Johnstown church. Prior to this call he served as a hospice chaplain for five years. His family is scattered! His daughter Rebekah and son-in-law Nick along with their children Aidan and Riley are in Italy, his middle child Andrew just completed his sophmore year at college in Pennsylvania, and his youngest son graduates from high school  this month and will start at the University at Buffalo in August. Among all the traveling and providing transportation he seizes time to walk and read. You can reach Leonard at

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