Mission:1 helps Long Island's Mt. Sinai UCC continue its caring ways
Written by Gregg Brekke November 9, 2011
In a tradition that goes back as far as anyone at the church can
remember, Mt. Sinai UCC on New York's Long Island has been collecting
Thanksgiving food bags to share with the Island Heart food pantry. But this
year, Mission:1 has given the long tradition added momentum.
Sinai expects to collect 200 bags of food during their annual drive. Mary
Larson, licensed minister at the church, says that equals around 2,000 food
items which will well exceed the 1,111 items the church has set as their goal
Larson asked around the office for confirmation of how long the Thanksgiving
bags had been collected, the Rev. Diane C. Samuels, senior pastor and
lifelong member of Mt. Sinai, said the holiday
meal sharing had been a tradition at the church "at least since I was a kid."
initial food collection – separate from the Thanksgiving bags – netted 560
items that have already been delivered to Island heart.
do a lot of mission in our community, so we've worked to combine Mission:1 with
the activities we have," says Larson. "Mission:1 gave a boost to the
work we were doing already."
having the information from the UCC it gave us something to help us build a
bigger vision about what is going on around the country," she said.
And that vision has helped in Mt. Sinai's other food-justice related
ministries. Members of church coordinated the Brookhaven Crop Walk on Long Island.
At least 90 walkers from several denominations collected over $6,900.00 for
Crop Walk. Their public display included the walkers making their way through
the town of Port Jefferson to help raise awareness for hunger in addition to
the financial goals.
The church has also exceeded its Mission:1 goal of 111 Bread for the
World advocacy letters. Members, including the youth group, have sent at least
200 letters. The youth group is planning a second letter drive in the spring of
Larson says the church's justice activism is divided into two groups
at this time. A 5th and 6th grade youth group and an adult group that came
together as a result of reading "Half the Sky."
The 5th and 6th grade youth group is primarily working on what they call
"The Greening Ministry," where youth learn how, regardless of their
age, they can learn and share information concerning environmental justice with
friends and family.
"We started with water bottles, getting kids to encourage their
families not to use plastic water bottles," says Larson.
"We've been talking about food and poverty and what that
means," she says. "One of the best parts of the program is showing
the students how they can make a difference even though they aren't yet voting
The other group formed after a book study of "Half the Sky."
They formed an action group and initially hope to direct their efforts at addressing
issues of sex trafficking, gender-based violence and maternal mortality around
the world and in the United States.
of the best parts of Mission:1 for Larson is the name recognition and outreach
potential of the coordinated effort.
some of my friends, who aren't members of the church, commented on it,"
she says. "It's great to hear them say, 'it's so cool that you're doing
plays on the UCC motto, “That they may all be one.” It runs the 11 days from
Nov. 1-11, 2011 (11-1-11—11-11-11). The goal is to collect more than 1 million
food and household items for local food banks, $111,111 in online donations for
hunger-related ministries and $111,111 in online donations for East Africa
famine relief. Its 5,300 congregations advocating for hunger causes worldwide
surpassed on Nov. 6 the goal of 11,111 letters to Congress. As of Nov. 8, over
20,000 letters had been sent.