'Bless!' event concludes Mission:1 with worship, celebration
Written by Gregg Brekke
November 12, 2011
The United Church of Christ concluded its Mission:1 hunger
awareness campaign with a Nov. 11 live-streamed worship service held at Old South Church in Boston UCC. The 350 members of the UCC's joint boards meeting
in Cleveland also viewed the service in addition to hundreds of other online viewers.
The service followed a two-day "Bless!" event presented by UCC Local Church Ministries (LCM), Old South
Church and the SALT Project, that included the introduction of a "Bless!"video and study guide designed to inspire worship leaders to reclaim blessing
as a means of revitalizing congregations in the midst of the UCC's Mission:1
"When 2011 presented us with this
calendaring opportunity," said the Rev. J. Bennett Guess, the UCC's
executive minister for Local Church Ministries, of the Mission:1 period that
extended from Nov. 1-11, 2011 (11-1-11—11-11-11). "We jumped on it. We
knew we couldn't let that many ones slip by uncultivated, without doing
"You layered ingenuity on top of your commitment,"
said Guess of the creative responses congregations had to the Mission:1 call to
raise awareness and activism on behalf of hunger issues. "God bless
Mission:1's goal was to collect more
than 1 million food and household items for local food banks –– a goal that was
surpassed Nov 10. The campaign sought $111,111 in online donations for
hunger-related ministries and $111,111 in online donations for East Africa
famine relief. The UCC also asked its 5,300 congregations to advocate for
hunger-related causes worldwide via 11,111 letters to Congress; by Nov. 11 that
goal had been tripled.
Although the real-time tally of
collected dollars had not yet reached $111,111 for both offerings as of
midnight Nov. 11, Guess assured those in attendance and viewing the service
over the Internet that it is "very clear that we are going to exceed [our
"Perhaps in the end, we
will collect more than $300,000, $400,000 –– even half a million dollars,"
Guess told the UCC's joint boards of at least $128,000 additional committed,
but not yet received via check or electronic donation, funds that have been
reported as part of Mission:1 offerings.
"We have been challenged and strengthened in the
process," said Guess of the excitement Mission:1 has raised in local
churches and various settings of the United Church of Christ.
"Oneness is the new counterculture," Guess said of
the unity fostered in the UCC via Mission:1 activities. "And breaking free
from the deadlock, this springing forth becomes a holy moment where love
becomes more important than all its competing agenda."
The entire closing worship
service is available for replay at <ucc.org/mission1/live.html>.