Mission:1 Conference collaborations reach out, look within
Written by Jeff Woodard October 18, 2011
As UCC churches nationwide prepare for the homestretch of
Mission:1, Conference collaborations are taking on a variety of forms. In
the heartland, the effort involves reaching across the mighty Mississippi. In
the far northeast, it means strengthening from within.
"It is a neat collaborative effort, to cross the Mississippi
River over to the Illinois South Conference," said the Rev. Keith Karau, rallying
the UCC Missouri Mid-South and Illinois South Conferences together around the
Mission:1 campaign to fight worldwide hunger.
"The Illinois South churches are churches that have a life
connection with St. Louis," said Karau, who retired last May after 17 years as
senior past of St. Paul's UCC, a member of the Missouri Mid-South Conference,
in Oakville, Mo. "Many of them are like eastern suburbs of the city."
Karau said that despite the "natural connection" between the
two Conferences, collaboration has been limited until this year. "It's nice to
break down those artificial barriers that we create," he said.
Momentum began to build this past spring with a televised
"All the People" campaign drawing participants and support from the Missouri
Mid-South and Illinois Conferences, said Karau.
had some leftover funds from our Strengthen the Church campaign, and we were
excited about doing something else together," said Karau, noting the Rev. Mary
Albert, pastor of Epiphany UCC in St. Louis, as a key partner in the
From Nov. 1-11, 2011 (11-1-11—11-11-11), the UCC goal is to 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. The UCC will also ask its 5,300 congregations to
advocate for hunger-related causes worldwide via 11,111 letters to Congress.
Immersing himself in Mission:1 is an ideal transition for
Karau, who is awaiting his next call.
"Mission is what I believe in," said Karau. "We're getting
people together and asking how can we push Mission:1, how can we be at the same
time invitational to the community while upholding UCC branding among ourselves
– so people know who we are, who we stand for, what we are or what we should
Visibility shouldn't be an issue in promoting Mission:1
St. Louis - by the end of this
week, more than 30 Mission:1 billboards will dot
the metropolitan area.
"We're starting a Facebook
campaign to get members to point out the billboards to their friends and
encourage them to support local food banks and donate at ucc.org/mission1," said Karau.
"We're also encouraging
people to write letters on paper plates. They fit in legal-size envelopes and
go through the mail very nicely. Letters can emphasize that millions of people
don't have anything to put on their plates. This is something to
encourage our legislators to make sure that budget cuts don't include cutting
The collaborating churches plan to use online newsletters,
email lists and local media to keep Mission:1 in motion. In addition, they are:
producing a DVD about the importance of making
Mission:1 invitational; providing local churches with youth-oriented Mission:1
program ideas; making presentations at Association and Conference meetings and
retreats to promote Mission:1 to the community at-large; and integrating the
Stillspeaking Friend-Raising Sunday into Mission:1, encouraging churches to
link mission work with evangelism.
Meanwhile, the Maine Conference is banding together to
sponsor three Mission:1 projects.
"It's so important for the Conference to help coordinate the
effort in Maine where there are so many tiny, struggling churches and so much
need in the area of hunger," said the Rev. David Gaewski, the UCC's Maine
The Maine projects are:
Good Shepherd Food Bank. A collection of non-perishable food items will
be collected 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Nov. 5 at Falmouth Congregational Church, in
conjunction with the Fall Learning Event that day. www.gsfb.org
The Maine Conference Middle School Ministries program will be the
H.O.M.E Coop in Orland, Maine, with an offering of non-perishable food items
during their mission activity at H.O.M.E. For further information, email
the Rev. Susie Craig at firstname.lastname@example.org
or log on to www.homecoop.net/