Rarely has Judith Sinche been so overjoyed by under-confidence.
"I am ecstatic, absolutely ecstatic," said Sinche, chairperson of the Board of Christian Outreach at First Church UCC in Darien, Conn., about her church's Mission:1 outpouring. "I wasn't sure we were going to make it, but boy, did they prove me wrong –– and I'm just thrilled to be proved wrong."
As of Nov. 8, First Church had collected 1,574 pounds of non-perishable food, blowing past its goal of 1,111, and placing its own exclamation point on the UCC's aggressive campaign against hunger.
"We have a very generous church, but they are very, very busy people," said Sinche, a 10-year First Church member. "It's not that they don't want to do things to help people, it's that they forget. So we have to keep reminding them. We have two services every Sunday, and we remind them at every one."
First Church received a running start toward its goal from a member who recently had a milestone birthday. "One of our members turned 60 and had a big birthday party," said Sinche. "Instead of gifts, she wanted guests to bring food items. This was kind of the kickoff for the whole project. She collected three hundred pounds of food."
Well-known in the area for its active support of local food pantries and outreach to the homeless, First Church conducts a program called Food First, whereby members bring in non-perishable food items on the first Sunday of each month, said Sinche. The program enables the church to provide two pantries with regular support.
In addition, said Sinche, First Church has become a staunch supporter of Feed My Starving Children, a nonprofit Christian organization committed to feeding God's children hungry in body and spirit. "It's supported community-wide by several area churches," said Sinche. "We've taken a very active role in it, both monetarily and in doing packing with many, many members of our church."
Sinche noted that the annual Neighbors in Need (NIN) offering was taken Nov. 6, a little later in the season "because so much has been going on lately."
In addition to food collection, church members gathered after services Nov. 6 to write and send letters to Congress, urging legislators not to cut programs that aid the hungry.
"Most legislators want things in email these days, so we provided sample letters with email address of the legislators and to President Obama," said Sinche. "We had hard-copy letters available for those members who do not use the computer."
Taking on good-spirited flak about having doubts that First Church would reach its goal has been worth it, says Sinche.
"I'm getting the, ‘O, ye of little faith,' " she says, "but that's OK."
For further details regarding Mission:1, visit www.ucc.org/mission1.