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IHN Serves Homeless Families

Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice Hospitality         Romans 12:13

Several times a year, ZPC hosts a group of people in our church building. Two of these times are coming up in the next couple of weeks—the men’s and women’s Great Banquets. Individuals sleep here in our building. Meals are provided in the kitchen. Rooms are made up with beds and makeshift night stands. This is something we’ve been doing at ZPC since the early 90s. In November, ZPC will have an opportunity to do this for a group of families who are experiencing homelessness through an organization called Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN), a national, faith-based, organization whose mission is to provide temporary, emergency shelter for homeless families.

Mary Leman, one of the program coordinators, thinks this ministry is a great fit for ZPC. “I knew this ministry sounded exactly like who we are as Christians. It's been said, 'this is in ZPC'S DNA!' In addition, I know we, as Presbyterians may be a reserved group, but I say, do not confuse that with apathy. All you need to do is show us a need or ask for help, and we will drop everything to show God's love.”

Each week up to fourteen homeless individuals are provided with housing at network church facilities. During the day, guests stay at a day center in downtown Indianapolis, where they receive social services. Older children attend school. Between 5 pm and 6 am, local congregations serve as hosts on a weekly rotational basis, providing lodging, meals, and hospitality. ZPC will host for the first time from November 8 through November 15, 2015.

I asked Mary why she was draw to IHN. She said, “here is the opportunity to reach out to people in our community who are in need right now, and help them lift themselves up today. I was especially drawn to the opportunity to keep families together and provide a safe, stable environment for the children. I am delighted that my own children, aged 5, 8, and 10 years old, can be a part of IHN and can learn how to share Christ's love by volunteering and helping the families feel welcome.”

Volunteers are the heart of the program. As Mary mentioned, opportunities exist for people of all ages to serve including:
            >          Setting up guest bedrooms in the church
            >          Cooking and serving meals
            >          Playing with the children and helping them with homework
            >          Staying overnight with the families
            >          Providing transportation to and from the day center
            >          Tearing down guest bedrooms
            >          Doing laundry
            >          Donating food items and supplies or making a financial donation to purchase needed items
            >          Most importantly, demonstrating Christ’s love

IHN continues to work with these families after they are no longer in crisis. Mary says, “I feel great about the entire program and especially the follow up each family receives afterwards to make sure they don't fall victim to homelessness again.”

“IHN puts those needy families right before us, within our walls, where we can be the hands and feet of Christ in our own church home. In truth, I feel we are blessed that these families would allow us, complete strangers, to serve them and trust us during this difficult time in their family's life. In being true disciples of Jesus, others will see the light within us and be touched.”

Posted by Sally Bias with

Meet ZPC's New Worship Director!

We are excited to Introduce Don Nieman, ZPC’s Next Director of Worship!

Since Jon Graybeal felt called to step into a new role as the director of high school ministry, ZPC has been in the process of looking for our new worship director. Dave Gall, chair of the worship director search team, said the process was not easy. "It would have been a much simpler process if all we were looking for was someone to lead our praise band at 10:30."

Instead, ZPC's director of worship is charged with helping the congregation and community understand and experience the love of Christ and develop a strong foundation in faith through holistic worship. The worship director is responsible for creating the appropriate environment that encourages everyone to offer up worship to the Almighty and Most Holy God. This is a pretty tall order! Enter Don Nieman, who says he sees his ministry as "working to see that all of God's people can express their joy, their lament, their hope to God."

Dave said, "during our search, we cast a wide net looking for a person who would fill the expectations to be our worship director. We received applications, not only locally, but also from candidates as far away as New Hampshire, Kansas, and Washington. The worship search team felt that Don’s skills and knowledge best aligned with what ZPC was looking for."

Don was born in a suburb of Chicago and grew up in a large extended Catholic family. According to Don, his mother says she knew he would be a drummer because when his dad would play loud music, Don would kick out rhythms inside the womb. In addition to a drummer, Don and his family thought he might be a priest, and he even began Catholic seminary in 9th grade. Although Don did not end up going into the priesthood, Don says "it was during this time I first began to understand my fit in the church."

As a young adult, Don was called into ministry at a Protestant church as a drummer on the worship team, and this continued the journey of his deep love for God and his desire to express this love through music. Since that time, Don has served at several churches in the California area; his longest stint being 11 years as the director of worship at San Celemente Presbyterian Church. Most recently, he served as the director of worship at Whitworth Community Presbyterian Church in Spokane, Washington. 

Don is excited about being at ZPC, but more excited about his overall call from God. "My call is to help people make that leap from 'worship is something we do on Sunday mornings' to 'worship is something we do all of life.' I am thrilled to walk alongside other people as they grow in their giftedness." He encourages people to try something new and daring, and offer it as a gift to God. "It can be difficult for musicians to lay out their wares and have them inspected by others. But it can be a beautiful moment...something that is daring for us can glorify God."

Don reports his favorite roles are being dad to Kira and Joshua and husband to Wendy, his wife of 20 years. Kira is 14 years old and will be a freshman at Zionsville High School. She plays violin, softball, and loves dance. Joshua, age 12, loves adventure experiences and story writing and will be attending Zionsville West Middle School. Wendy is a professional pianist, singer, and songwriter. His hope for his own children is "that they might find a light in music and that they might use it to serve the Church."

The Nieman family's move to the Midwest has gone pretty well so far. Don says the kids are adjusting to Zionsville schools and he and Wendy are adjusting to, what feels to them like, fast drivers in Zionsville. Unlike Pastor Jerry's beloved Dunkin Donuts, Don's coffee shop of choice is Starbucks. His drink? A venti, decaf, 3 pumps of mocha, 2 pumps of peppermint, nonfat milk steamed with 2 scoops of protein powder, with whipped cream on the top.

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