We have raised $3250 for scholarships for medical students! So far about half of you who have seen this blog have contributed to the American University of Beirut to support Penny’s oncologist, Dr. Fadlo Khuri as President of the University in one of the most troubled parts of the globe. Fadlo announced today that students will come back to class starting in September and ironically, the blessing of the pandemic is forcing all the faculty to learn how to use distance learning and broaden their reach.
Penny would be so passionate to stir support seeing the devastation that AUB has faced with the crash of their economy, the pandemic and the explosion and all the students whose careers and lives weigh in the balance. And we are so grateful for the sacrifice and brilliance that Dr. Khuri has brought to AUB leaving the comfort of Atlanta a few years ago.
With the “war” breaking out between Israel and Palestine, I consider a contribution to AUB one of the best steps we can personally take to bring peace to the Middle East. The University was started by Presbyterian missionaries 150 years ago and is one of the most powerful agents for restoration in the region.
Many thanks! Continue the prayers! Spread the word for support! Let’s do what we can to support peace and nonviolence in the cradle of the faith of Christians, Jews and Muslims.
Thanks to a grant from our Presbytery’s “Penny Hill Impact Fund” the Atlanta Children’s Shelter (ACS) renovated and opened a new 5 year old kindergarten class and dedicated it this week as “Penny’s Place”. ACS is a preschool for children experiencing homelessness and located at North Avenue Presbyterian Church and our son, Nicholas, is on the Board of Directors. Penny’s first “calling from God” was rocking babies at Peachtree Christian Church and her whole life was dedicated toward lifting up children. She hoped her legacy would especially bring justice to children in great need. Here is the Instagram that our son, Philip, posted:
Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
In October we will travel to Brazil for a celebration of PRECE and get to see plans for the elementary school to be built in Penny’s name as well. Will relay those details to all of you soon. Please stay in prayer about the “good works” that are still being generated by Penny’s vitality and advocacy for children.
Today, July 16th, is Penny’s birthday. I am reminded of the line from our funeral prayers, “They rest from their labours but their works follow them.” So this is 63 years that Penny’s life has impacted this earth. And she is still a force bringing love and joy even as one in the communion of saints in heaven.
This month we are dedicating a room at the Atlanta Children’s Shelter named for Penny–“Penny’s Place” that was renovated with funds from the Penny Hill Impact Fund from our Presbytery celebrating her love of children and impact on parents. Also, in October I have been invited to Fortaleza, Brazil for the 25th anniversary of PRECE, the education reform ministry that Penny was one of the top ten most influential supporters at its ten year anniversary. Soon, we will announce plans for an elementary school to be built in Penny’s memory where that ministry began. The school has actually started but without a building. I am delivering a foundation gift to begin construction when I go.
Her legacy lives on. So, may our lives continue to be inspired and spread the love and joy she was commissioned to impart on this earth. Her calling first occurred at her baptism at Peachtree Christian Church at age 12 when she was baptized in the waters with Christ looking down on her–the picture above. May we be so inspired and filled with the Spirit.
I hope you will say a prayer of thanksgiving today. It has been two years since Penny’s peaceful departure into God’s hands. I thought a picture of Penny Jane with an incredible giant cookie cake would be appropriate. She loved life, her family, people, chocolate, cookies, and all of you in particular. So, remember and let her life continue to inspire you and you may want to venture back into her blog for inspiration.
Another wonderful mark of this anniversary: the Presbytery’s Penny Hill Impact Fund awarded a number of grants last week from proceeds from sale of the Open Door Community property. This includes large grants to the Atlanta Children’s Shelter (Nicholas is on the Board), The Samaritan Center and Women’s Shelter at First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta where Penny was family minister for 16 years, and the Buckhead Christian Ministry for housing for the poor in which my church is partnered. I believe their were other significant gifts and we thank God for the continued impact Penny is having for the poor and for justice causes in our community.
I’ll also remind you of the Winship 5k that is held next Saturday, Oct 13th and encourage you to support Mike & Lindsey Thame’s Team to continue the battle to cure cancer: http://emory.convio.net/site/TR/5KRun/Winship5k?team_id=1754&pg=team&fr_id=1130.
Remember to Live, Love, Laugh and give God the glory!
Next week, October 4th, is the anniversary of our “Going Home” vigil for Penny. It was a surprisingly gracefilled day for someone whose life filled us all with joy and grace. In memory of Penny and in honor of those she mentored and fought for (like Mike and Lindsey Thames), I want to encourage you to participate or walk/run in the Winship 5k this year.
The event is Saturday,October 14th, at the Emory Campus to support cancer research for those fighters who are surviving with hope. Team Penny had a hard time participating in the 5k the last two years. Our first year, we had a
Lady Godiva and hippy ready for Winship 5k
great crowd “wiggin’ out” and ready to walk but the rain drowned the event. We still made it to IHOP and raised a lot of support for cancer research.
Last year, we planned to walk, but had to watch from the 6th floor of the hospital room at Emory waiting for Philip and Jessica to get back from their honeymoon that night.
Kenan, my daughter-in-law, wrote the most moving account of our trip to inter Penny’s ashes in Fortaleza, Brazil and how she witnessed the impact that Penny had on our friends there. She captured so much in her words and pictures and I know you will enjoy it:
It has been a while since I updated you but I assure you that Penny’s influence has not diminished. I told you about Mercy Community Church ( https://mercyatl.org/ — that is a church primarily of homeless folks in our neighborhood that Penny and I have supported for years. They hoped to purchase the large boarding house of the Open Door Community two blocks from our home, but Mercy did not have the winning bid. This put us back to ground zero to find a property.
We have located a possibility at 101 Boulevard (https://www.bing.com/maps?FORM=HDRSC4 ) . This is a more manageable church building near the King Center. So the location is ideal. It is more cost effective than other comparable properties though it will require substantial renovation. Mercy is not in a rush however and is waiting on its primary benefactor to get back to Atlanta as she does not live in Atlanta and is caring for a new grandchild in Europe.
So, please remain in prayer and spread the word. In the near future we hope to be raising support from churches, individuals and community partners to acquire and renovate this old church building known as the “City on the Hill Church” to become the “City on Penny Hill.” (Our friends and Presbyterian churches so far have pledged $120,000 ) This will become a hub for spiritual nurture of homeless neighbors as well as encouraging a new generation of justice workers to enhance the well-being of our city. We will need prayers, help from structural engineers, architects, contractors, and worker-bees to help in all sorts of ways.
So, pray that Penny’s continued influence will spur greater good and justice to be done for our city.
Some of you have asked me what is going on since Mercy Community Church was not the winning bid for buying the Open Door Community property on Ponce de Leon Ave. We are still searching for a property to create a site that will be named “Penny Hill,” but it will take time, patience and prayers.
Here is a quick update to keep you all informed.
Thanks to your generosity we amounted pledges totaling over $113,000(I only put word out through this blog so almost all of this response is through you–I will expand the request for support when more specific details are set). Actual checks and contributions are not needed yet. Wait until we find and have a contract on a new property.
Our real estate agent is searching for properties between Virginia Highlands and downtown Atlanta which is the area where Mercy members live. Some potential properties have been identified; however, it will take time to consider each property and decide how it might be configured for Mercy and our other collaborator’s needs. Once a property is decided upon, we will inform all our supporters.
Since you all know Penny, but don’t really know Mercy, here is a site that you can find the formal proposal for the “Penny Hill” ministry as well as a Lenten Devotional from Mercy that you might use. (https://mercyatl.org/). The website can help acquaint you with the incredible ministry of this unusual church in the city. It represents the embodiment of Penny’s desire to love and inspire love in our city and to raise up the greater call for justice for all in our midst.
I look forward to working with Mercy and establishing a lasting legacy from Penny. Her spirit was always contagious, and I know her passion is still inspiring all of us. So, during this Lenten season, I hope you will patiently wait and pray with hope that Christ will stir up good and lasting work from our efforts.
Last week the Presbytery committee met and unanimously chose a different bid than Mercy’s for buying the Open Door property. Pastors Maggie and Chad with Mercy Community Church and their church members are disappointed as they had such a clear vision for continuing the legacy of the Open Door to the homeless in our neighborhood.
However, I have reminded Maggie and Chad that Mercy’s future is in God’s hands. And this whole process has spurred so much excitement and created a whole new base of support. This will launch Mercy into a new future that God holds for this unique church and ministry. We are still confident that Mercy will find a suitable new home to create the collaborative space for “Penny Hill.”Mercy’s real estate agent is identifying other properties that will be suitable and convenient to the members of the church.
I will keep you posted as soon as a new property opens up, and we will continue the momentum moving forward. Thank you so much for your generous support. I am committed to see Penny’s legacy become a reality. And to date, we have well over $100,000 pledged in support and numerous others still interested in joining the campaign.
Keep praying for God’s guidance and will.
That all in our neighborhood might Live Love and Laugh!
Thank you all for your incredible display of generosity. In three days responses to this blog brought in pledges of $92,030 to support the effort to purchase the old Open Door Ministry for Mercy Community Church in collaboration with other homeless ministries. Penny did not think her name was worthy to be the title as many others have done much more for justice around here. But she did bless this effort and told Mercy if her name could be beneficial, she was glad to help. She truly longed to see this happen.
As our family and friends, you have stepped up in an amazing way. Thank you so much. I am in awe of your love and support and desire to see Penny’s life left with such a fitting legacy that inspires love in our city–that was Penny’s ultimate calling.
So, the bids are in for the building. The Presbytery team that makes the decision will not meet until next week to choose the winning bid. So, please be in fervent prayer that God will and is doing a new and wonderful work right here. And anyone who still wants to pledge, please send me an email (email@example.com).