Since 1975, the congregation of First Presbyterian Church has partnered with Mission Road Ministries in the care of the people who count on them – all of whom share the challenge of intellectual developmental disabilities (IDD). At a critical time in Mission Road’s history, the FPC family acted upon the words of Jesus Christ, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:40. As a congregation, we extended a hand of care and compassion to the then-floundering Mission Road Foundation Rehabilitation Center.
Many will remember these dedicated FPC members who took on the responsibility of the management, finances and programming at Mission Road: John R. Shaw, Dr. William P. Wood, Ralph Winton, Bill Thomas, Charles Labatt, Alan Menger, Virginia Pipes, Vicki LePere, George Laughead, Roland Krueger, Joe Warrick, Manfred Gerhardt, Don Beeler, Janice Clyborne, Dr. Kaye Wilkins, Ken Finch, Ike Kampmann. At the time, Mission Road was providing residential care for 88 children and young adults.
Today, Mission Road cares for more than 900 people with IDD each day. Many people receive attentive and thoughtful care in their day and vocational programs as well as in-home care assistance. 139 adult clients live as full-time residents in their 21 community homes and their three apartment complexes, and more than 40 children reside in their cottages at their Southside campus.
Throughout the years, FPC has supported MRM in many ways. In the early days, it was funding used to hire the first executive director. In subsequent years, it was funding for myriad things – programs; the first ICF-MR home in San Antonio, etc. When Pastor Jim DeHoog was hired as the chaplain of Mission Road, the church stepped up to give a secure amount of money to ensure that Jim’s position would not be eliminated in economic downturns or as a result of reductions in fees for services from the federal and state governments.
Pastor Jim developed the chaplaincy program as well as the volunteer program which is now led by his colleague, Pastor Danny Williams. Jim and Danny work with others on the program staff and work with the FPC Sunday School program providing mission opportunities for the children. They also develop the volunteer portion of S.O.A.R. (Summer Outreach And Recreation) which provides mission opportunities for youth groups from throughout the country. Pastor Jim and Pastor Danny have instituted Bible study programs, counseling opportunities and myriad pastoral acts to serve the residents and clients of MRM. They are also integral in programming at The Unicorn Centers. In fact, Pastor Jim now serves as the director of the Life & Job Skills Training Center at Unicorn Centers. They have officiated at memorial services for our clients, provided marriage counseling and officiated at weddings of Mission Road clients, offered grief counseling with our clients, and ensured church participation for clients. The funds given by FPC for approximately 29 years have ensured that the children and adults who live and work at Mission Road have a full spiritual life and an understanding of the love of Jesus Christ.
We are proud of our church’s role in the support of Mission Road as they continue to provide the exceptional care for the most vulnerable of God’s children. The future is bright, and,45 years later, we continue our legacy of care allowing their clients to reach their full potential for independence, productivity and inclusion in the community.
At our 2012 Grand Western Shindig, Mission Road Ministries honored First Presbyterian Church for the priceless impact on their ministry. We are proud that First Presbyterian was the very first recipient of the “Golden Rule Award”. The recognition was presented to Reverend Trey Little and Dr. Louis Zbinden on behalf of our entire congregation – past, present and future – at the 33 annual Grand Western Shindig, Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at Cowboys Dancehall.
If you and your family are interested in learning more about Mission Road, their clients or if you are interested in attending the Grand Western Shindig, please contact Lynette Farrimond at email@example.com.
Originally written by Suzanne Letch and Barbara Anne Stephens