Mission:1 energizes outreach and advocacy throughout UCC
Written by Barb Powell November 14, 2011
After 11 days of red wagons filling up with healthy food,
thousands of letters sent to Congress, sermons delivered by cereal boxes and
purple hippos, 11-foot rocket ships and peace signs made of cans of food,
pastors evicted from pulpits due to growing mounds of food donations, a pumpkin
patch of bags filled with food, and monetary donations pouring in, Mission:1 ended
successfully Friday, Nov. 11.
"This has truly
been something we felt like we could get behind and contribute to along with
the whole church," remarked Kelly Barefoot of Calvary UCC in Thomasville, N.C.
Mission:1's goal was
four-pronged: to collect more than 1 million food and household items for local
food banks; to raise $111,111 for
hunger-related ministries and $111,111 in online donations for East Africa
famine relief; and to advocate for hunger-related causes worldwide by sending
more than 11,111 letters to Congress.
By campaign's end, the
letters goal had been tripled and the food goal had reached 1.25 million items. The
online tote board used to track accomplishments was left online over the
weekend so that churches caught in the early winter snows the weekend of Nov. 6
could complete their Mission:1 efforts.
"We thank God
and our people for the fabulous response and we thank our national UCC for the
terrific idea," said Norma Klemme of Zion UCC in Union, Mo.
On Sunday evening, Nov.
13, monetary donations received for hunger-related ministries had topped
$91,000 and monies for East Africa relief stood at more than $94,000. However,
tallies of committed funds to the two causes not yet received by the UCC's
national offices in Cleveland added up to more than $130,000. An updated total
will be announced in a few weeks.
"It is very
clear that we are going to exceed all our goals," said the Rev. J. Bennett
Guess, executive minister of the UCC's Local Church Ministries. "Perhaps
in the end, we will collect more than $300,000, $400,000 –– even half a million
congregations across the United States found new and innovative ways to spread
the spirit of the campaign motto, "that they may all be 1" (John
17:21), throughout their local communities.
The Sunday school at First Congregational UCC in Bedford, Mass., held a walk-a-thon even after a
sudden snowstorm caused power outages throughout the area. In Corning, N.Y., youth from First Congregational UCC slept outside
on the church grounds the evening of Nov. 4 –– when local temperatures dipped
into the 20s –– in order to raise awareness of the people without adequate
shelter or heat.
humorous approaches to advocacy and food collection as well. The Rev. Jeanne Lischer of Immanuels
UCC-Holstein in Missouri
kicked off the church's
Mission:1 celebration dressed up as a box of cereal. At St. John UCC in Wood River, Ill., the
Rev. Mike Southcombe delivered his Nov. 13 sermon dressed as a purple hippo ––
the result of a bet lost to St. John youth, who exceeded 1,111 items of health
food collected for local food pantries during Mission:1.
Sun Lakes (Ariz.) UCCcollected 1,389 food items during Mission:1. "We are a small
congregation in a senior retirement community," said the Rev. Vernon
Meyer, "so this was a big success for us."
Across the United
Church of Christ, from urban settings to rural communities, local churches
expressed thanks for a mission campaign that connected to the denomination and
yet stressed the importance of the local community.
"Our church is
in a time of transition and this has helped to bring some new energy and hope
for our future as we reach out to the many in need here at home and around the
world," wrote a pastor from Maryland.
First Congregational UCC in Silverton, Colo.,
formed a partnership with the local school to foster education about
hunger-related issues and collect healthy food items. By Nov. 1, the community
and church had already raised 100 pounds of food.
A pastor in
Connecticut summed up Mission:1 the best: "How do you make many into one?
Ask the many to join together in one mission, one goal, one heart of
compassion. Ask, and you will receive …"