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Ministries Overview

Vanderbilt Presbyterian Church sits alongside one of the busiest roads in Naples, visible to all who pass by. Its three tall steeples serve as both landmark and beacon to a house of worship and to a place of service and outreach to our community. Our facility was designed with the tallest steeple and Sanctuary at its center representing Christ’s body—the side wings with their smaller steeples representing our Lord’s outstretched arms. To live into that design, the hearts and minds of our congregation and the doors of our church must be open, wide as the arms of Christ. And we are committed to offering that welcoming presence to members and visitors alike. Here in the heart of tourist country, our numbers swell each “Season” with the return of Affiliate members from their northern homes and with the addition of the many visitors who find their way to our doors.

We see ourselves as a family, a church family that gathers regularly for worship, study, service, and fellowship. We care deeply about one another and are committed to caring lovingly for one another—from our youngest members to our most senior. We recognize that family ties extend beyond the Vanderbilt Church. As sisters and brothers to all humankind, we reach out to those who live nearby and to those we never meet. We hear the call to be a dynamic representative of the Body of Christ, each member uniquely gifted to share the Good News of the Gospel.

Adult Ministry
Vanderbilt Presbyterian Church offers a variety of Adult Education opportunities—weekly Sunday morning classes on both the Bible and on contemporary issues, a series of Sunday evening presentations on topics of interest, informative healthcare presentations organized by our Holistic Health Ministry Team, and weekly Men’s and Co-ed Bible Study groups led by our Pastors. A recent endowment gift enables us to annually bring renowned scholars to teach and/or preach. Vanderbilt Women “Circles” meet monthly at church for study and fellowship, and “Friends in Faith,” a study and support group for women, meets twice a month at church.

Caring Ministries
Our very active Deacons serve and care for our congregation in a variety of ways—through hospital visits, by preparing Communion for the congregation, and by serving Communion at home to those unable to attend Sunday worship. Our Deacons are responsible for bereavement receptions following memorial services, for Assisted Living visitation to members residing in such facilities, for frequent Blood Drives (over 100 pints collected last year), for Letters of Joy and Concern, signed each Sunday morning by those attending worship, and for other ministries addressed under “Outreach and Mission.” Our Board of Deacons is currently being restructured to assign each member and/or family in the congregation to a specific Deacon for regular and closer care.

Vanderbilt is a “Stephen Ministry” church, and 80 members of our congregation have been trained and commissioned since 1998. Our current Stephen Ministers are available to provide one-on-one care and support to those experiencing life- changing circumstances. With many “Seniors” in our congregation, the need for both a strong Deacon and strong Stephen Minister ministry is significant. The Prayer Shawl Knitters (a ministry of the Deacons) meet monthly to knit prayer shawls to comfort those who are grieving or ill and to bring hope to those in despair. And VPC’s Comfort Quilters have sewn over 100 quilts in recent years; recipients include Habitat for Humanity families, residents of the Shelter for Abused Women and Children, St. Matthew’s House, and Café of Life. In addition, a group from Presbyterian Women make over 100 hand-made Teddy Bears each year—many donated to local law enforcement and other agencies to give to children in crisis and others sold at the annual Holiday Bazaar, with proceeds going to Mission. The same group makes hand-made lambs to give to each child baptized at VPC.

Children, Youth, and Families Ministry
Our “West Wing” (dedicated to Education and Music) is a busy place. Its classrooms host Sunday morning Church School for 3-year-olds through 6th graders and a nursery for younger children. Each summer this entire arm of the church is alive with the sounds of 75-100 children attending Vacation Bible School. The Youth Center, where we serve breakfast after Church School to our students and their families, is an important part of the West Wing. It’s where Middle School and Senior High youth gather on Sunday evenings for Bible study, fellowship, and a simple meal. Vanderbilt’s Boy Scout Troup meets weekly in the Youth Center, as does Al Anon. Wyldlife Club and Campaigners (both Young Life programs for Middle School students) and Capernaum (a Young Life program for high school-age and college-age young adults with special needs) meet in the Youth Center.

The Youth Center is the scene of monthly “Parents Nights Out” (PNO) programs run by our Senior High youth under the supervision of our Director of Student Education Ministries. PNOs provide parents of young children an opportunity for time for themselves and a setting where their children are safe and well-cared for. MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) meets twice a month in the Youth Center for sharing and support.

The Vanderbilt Learning Center offers pre-school, kindergarten, and after-school care for 3-5-year-olds. Currently 97 children are enrolled in this program held in classrooms in VPC’s West Wing. The Learning Center strives to provide an enriching program in a warm and caring Christian setting to all children, regardless of race, religion, creed, or national origin.

Music Ministry
Vanderbilt is renowned for its music program throughout Naples and beyond; we are referred to by many as the “music” church. We glory in the choral music produced by our 80-member Chancel Choir and by our small but enthusiastic Alleluia Children’s Choir. We are blessed to have a 14-member Hand Bell Choir—the Carillon Ringers—that performs frequently at Sunday morning worship and during VPC concerts.

At our annual Summer Music Camp, 50 eager children (rising 2nd through 5th grades) learn singing fundamentals, ring techniques, the basics of the instruments of the orchestra, and have class lessons in piano, harp, recorder, and bells. All this leads to a musical presented at the end of Music Camp. Vanderbilt also hosts a String and Harp Summer Camp for 60 Middle and High School students.

With the demise of the pipe organ original to our Sanctuary, Vanderbilt embarked on a “Deo Gloria” Campaign in 2014 to raise funds for the purchase of a new state- of-the-art Lively-Fulcher Pipe Organ. The organ was installed and dedicated in the fall of 2017. As part of the Deo Gloria Campaign, the Sanctuary was completely refurbished to allow for acoustics of the highest level. New flooring and pews were installed, and the Narthex was enlarged to create a more open and welcoming space.

Vanderbilt’s annual Concert Series, with outstanding musicians from across the country, draws standing room only crowds from Naples and surrounding communities. Jim Cochran, our organist and long-time Director of Music, also serves as organist for Artis-Naples/The Philharmonic Center for the Performing Arts and as director of the Center’s 90-member Adult Chorus and 100-member Youth Chorus. Cochran recently announced that Vanderbilt will be the “West Coast” home of Seraphic Fire, a Grammy-nominated professional choir based in Miami. Seraphic Fire will sing 5 concerts each season at VPC.

The new organ and renovated Sanctuary are an added draw to top performers for our Concert Series. The 2017/18 season includes David Higgs, Chairman of the Eastman School of Music Keyboard Department, internationally known virtuoso Fred Swann, former organist of the Chrystal Cathedral, and our own Jim Cochran, the Chancel Choir, and instrumentalists performing “Rutter Gloria.”

Outreach and Mission Ministry
A highly visible “Visitor Cart” welcomes newcomers each Sunday at the entrance to our Sanctuary. VPC’s Evangelism and Membership Team sponsors “Adventures in Membership” (AIM) Seminars throughout the year, and 21 Active and Affiliate members joined Vanderbilt in 2017. New members are paired with “shepherds,” current members who welcome them and introduce them to the many opportunities available for study and service at VPC.

Our popular “Getting to Know You Lunches,” at restaurants around town, offer new and longer-time members a chance to become better acquainted. And “Vanderbuilders,” small groups formed anew each “Season,” enable recent and long-time members to know one another better through activities such as dining together, or attending concerts, the theater, and sporting events.

Vanderbilt provides worship space for a Korean Presbyterian Fellowship, which meets each Sunday morning in Harp Hall. On occasion, their Pastor and their gifted choir participate in our worship services.

Mission has always been at the heart of Vanderbilt’s ministry, and we strive to live as a “Mission oriented” congregation. We have a vision of a Mission program so vital that it transforms lives—ours as well as the lives of those we seek to serve. And while Naples is one of the most affluent communities in the country, we live side-by-side with great poverty and need. Immokalee, 30 miles to the east, with its vast fruit and vegetable fields, is home to thousands of migrant workers and their families. And the absence of harsh winters in southwest Florida allows for many homeless children and adults who live in cars or in the woods or who borrow sleeping space in friends’ homes. Mission opportunities abound.

Vanderbilt participates in local and worldwide Mission on many fronts, but we currently place particular emphasis on the following:

  • Habitat for Humanity – To date, VPC has funded 42 Habitat homes in Immokalee and Naples, each at a cost of approximately $50,000, with matching grants utilized for some of the homes. Our goal for 2017 is to fund 3 more homes. In addition, VPC volunteers travel by church bus weekly to help with construction at additional Habitat sites.
  • Feed 5000 Food Drives – Directed by the Deacons, these drives support and supply local food banks that feed the hungry in our area. Over $15,000 in non- perishable food and cash was donated in the 6 drives in 2016.
  • Heifer International – In the past 10 years, our annual Heifer Advent Fairs have helped educate our congregation about “alternative” giving and have netted $160,000 for critters, bees, and trees to aid small-scale farmers worldwide and to support Heifer’s “Send a Girl to School” program to educate girls in developing countries.
  • Weekend Power Packs – Each week, VPC’s Boy Scout Troup assembles 50 packs of non-perishable food purchased by our congregation. The packs are distributed on Fridays at area schools to needy and homeless children—children who normally receive their meals at school and who would otherwise go hungry on weekends.
  • The Salvation Army – We provide direct financial support—$7,000 in 2016, sponsor disadvantaged Immokalee children at Salvation Army Summer Camp, and provide Christmas gifts for over 100 children through The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree.
  • Mission Peniel – A Peace River Presbytery project located in Immokalee, Mission Peniel provides support to migrant farm workers and their families. We donate clothing year around and VPC volunteers serve a hot meal at the Mission quarterly.
  • Vanderbilt Women – Funds for Mission ($11,700 in 2016) are raised through an annual Rummage Sale and Holiday Bazaar. Recipients of these funds last year included Deo Gloria, Immokalee Child Care Center, PACE Center for Girls, Quest for Kids, Church World Service, and Presbyterian Church Disaster Assistance.
  • PCUSA denomination-wide offerings – VPC participates in One Great Hour of Sharing, the Peace and Global Witness Offering, and the Christmas Joy Offering.

Mission at VPC involves the above and much, much more . . .