Michigan church 'goes to 11' for Mission:1
Written by Gregg Brekke
November 5, 2011

The Rev. Roger Pohl (retired), member of Church of the Good Shepherd in Ann Arbor, Mich., harvests kale from the Faith and Food community garden. (Photo Coqui Conkey)

The four goals of the UCC's Mission:1 campaign have been fully embraced by thousands of congregations. But Ann Arbor's Church of theGood Shepherd UCC wanted to make its efforts at least "one louder."

In addition to helping the UCC collect more than 1 million food and household items for local food banks, as well as $111,111 in online donations for hunger-related ministries and $111,111 in online donations for East Africa famine relief, members of Church of the Good Shepherd are integrating seven additional goals into their Mission:1 efforts and holding a neighborhood "Healthy Harvest Festival" event on Nov. 11.

During the 11 days of Mission:1 (11.1.11–11.11.11), Church of the Good Shepherd is encouraging 11 practices of education, generosity and hospitality that are integrated into their fall activities.

Aimed at raising awareness and keeping continued focus on hunger related issues, the congregation is invited to:

  1. Attend an adult education forum — "Low-Carbon Diet Challenge" on Nov. 1 or "Animal, Vegetable, Mineral" on Nov. 8.
  2. Participate in a volunteer effort serving free breakfast or stocking food shelves.
  3. Write a letter to Congress during worship on Nov. 6.
  4. Bring canned goods to stock shelves — 11 of one item, one of each 11 items, or simply one item!
  5. Make a financial contribution to Neighbors in Need and/or towards East African famine relief.
  6. Bring dessert for the neighborhood Healthy Harvest Festival.
  7. Invite and bring one person or family to worship on Nov. 6 or to the neighborhood Healthy Harvest Festival.
  8. Sing with the choir at the neighborhood Healthy Harvest Festival.
  9. Attend the neighborhood Healthy Harvest Festival.
  10. Be one of the people to take 11 invitations to our neighbors.
  11. Pray that our attention to hunger issues and our work make a difference.

Also featured at the festival will be produce grown in the community's Faith and Food garden where a variety of greens and vegetables are grown. Church of the Good Shepherd's interim pastor the Rev. Coqui Conkey said the church recently hosted a UCC clergy cluster meeting where "the meal consisted of vegetarian soups made by our members –– using greens from the Faith and Food garden."

"We spent part of our time talking about the ways that our congregations were participating in Mission:1 and what our ongoing hunger-related projects are," she said.

For the Nov. 11 community event, the congregation is inviting 111 of its neighbors to come for conversation, music, food and the opportunity to learn about food providers and hunger advocacy groups in its neighborhood. The guests will be invited to write a letter to Congress and to bring at least 1 of 11 named items to stock of the church's partner organizations with food shelves.

"Jesus talked a lot about money," Conkey wrote in the church's November newsletter, outlining Mission:1 priorities. "I can’t say for certain what he would say about the current state of affairs in the United States or elsewhere. I am certain that he would have an overriding concern for those on the margins including the poor, the homeless and the hungry."

"I am also certain that he is calling us to make a difference, to be generous with our resources, and to be a blessing to those around us," she continued. "[For all of us] maybe it means working together to make a difference for the hungry and to learn more about advocacy related to hunger issues during our Mission:1 events 11.1.11-11.11.11."


More information on Mission:1 is available at <ucc.org/mission1>.

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