Written by Barb Powell
With funds still being counted on Nov. 28, Thanksgiving prayers were answered as the final goal of the United Church of Christ's Mission:1 campaign –– raising $111,111 for East Africa famine –– was surpassed.
"Mission 1 shows that we as a community of faith are not powerless, even in the face of a major crisis — we have topped our goal for East Africa famine relief and boldly advocated for food justice," said the Rev. James Moos, executive minister of the UCC's Wider Church Ministries. "Because we are not helpless, others need not be hopeless."
In addition to the monies raised for famine relief, the churchwide Mission:1 campaign to fight food-related injustice also eclipsed its three other goals: collecting more than 1 million food and household items for local food banks, writing more than 11,111 letters to Congress advocating for hunger-related causes, and raising more than $111,111 for hunger-related ministries.
In typical UCC fashion, local churches across the country took Mission:1 to heart and created their own special ways of fulfilling its goals.
In Anoka, Minn, members of First Congregational UCC delivered 1,111 items to the local food shelf –– items that weighed in at 934 pounds. "It was the best part of the day to fill up two vans with items and deliver them to a place that will distribute them to people in need in our community," wrote a church member.
"Our kids used the cans and boxes of food to make a peace sign on the church altar," said Sue Forsyth of the United Church of Christ of South Livonia, N.Y. "May our contribution help make peace a reality in our world."
At the close of business on Nov. 28, the totals stood thus: 1,438,124 food items collected; 37,443 letters sent to Congress regarding hunger-related concerns; $119,584 raised for hunger-related ministries; and $113,271 raised for East Africa famine relief. The totals are expected to climb further as late-reporting congregations send in their efforts.
"Mission:1 was hugely successful because it captured the new essence of denominationalism, which takes seriously local initiative and ingenuity, bridges charity and justice advocacy, and syncs the work of many congregations, schools and agencies in common purpose and direction for a specified period of time," said the Rev. J. Bennett Guess, executive minister of the UCC’s Local Church Ministries. "We also can't underestimate the power of succeeding in doing good, which is contagious and produces more momentum.
"Mission:1, in many respects, was a game changer for how we understand and approach local mission."