A multifaceted 'Mission:1' plan
Written by Jeff Woodard
July 19, 2011
The Rev. Ron Patterson’s intuition lit up in March when he
learned about the UCC’s proposed Mission:1 project. Then he saw the promotional
video at the Florida Conference meeting leading up to General Synod 28 this
month in Tampa, Fla., and he was on fire.
“I got a little bit of a head start, because I’m on [Executive] Council and it was discussed at the Development meeting,” said
Patterson. “When Ben [the Rev. J. Bennett Guess] brought the idea forward, it
just sounded like such a neat thing to do.”
From a food-packaging event and volunteerism at local food
banks to mission moments covering sustainable international agriculture and
population control, Patterson’s church, Naples (Fla.) UCC, has hit the ground
running in support and planning of Mission:1.
Affirmed unanimously by Executive
Council, "Mission: 1" plays on the prevalence of the number
"1" in the Nov. 1-11, 2011, timeframe (11-1-11—11-11-11). During that
period, the UCC pledges to back its "that they may all be one" motto
with a campaign to collect more than 1 million food and household items for
local food banks and marshal its 5,300 congregations to advocate for
hunger-related causes worldwide.
Naples UCC’s multifaceted Mission:1 plan includes an all-day
packaging event Oct. 29. The goal is 111,111 meals at 18 cents per meal, or
nearly $20,000, said Patterson. Youth and young families will lead this
piece of the project.
“These are prepackaged meals in a bag that can be boiled and
serve four people,” said Patterson, now in his eighth year at Naples UCC. “They
are nutritionally balanced with soy protein and have an extremely long shelf
life. We’ve shipped some to Haiti; the food banks give them out as fast as they
can be packaged.”
An anonymous donor has given $8,100 toward the prepackaged
meals, said Patterson. “We have very few social services here in Collier
County. There is no Welfare Department, and anything done for the homeless and
hungry is done through philanthropy and private donors.”
If each Naples UCC member writes a letter to Congress on
behalf of the homeless, hungry and hurting, 1,100 pieces of mail will be sent
to elected officials, said Patterson. “Then there is the local homeless
shelter, St. Matthew’s House, which also has a soup kitchen. A lot of our
people volunteer there.”
In addition, the church plans its annual Neighbors In Need
campaign this fall.
Naples UCC accelerated its awareness of hunger and other
social issues a few years ago, said Patterson, when “we started giving up major
floral displays during Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving services. Instead,
people now give to the two food banks in our area. Instead of giving money for
poinsettias, we raised $9,000 last Easter.”
Other ideas being bandied about include a “Lose 11 Pounds To
End Hunger” campaign to raise money per pound of participants’ weight loss;
asking for donations in multiples of 11 ($.11, $11.11, $111.11, etc.); a
“change collection” each Sunday; and “collecting lots of food,” said Patterson.
“We’re hoping to divide these funds between national and
local levels,” said Patterson. “I don’t know how many more ideas are going to
come, but this is a creative bunch of people here.”
More information on “Mission:1” is available at<ucc.org/mission1>.