With the 11 day focus of Mission:1, the church's Mission and
Outreach Team envisioned a way for the entire congregation to "Think and
Act" during this period on issues of food and economic justice. Their
"Mission:1 Calendar" has accompanied members through the campaign,
asking them to consider one issue each day and make a tangible effort to engage
The "Think and Act" statements for today, Nov. 10,
THINK: The United Church of Christ dreams of
impossible things and challenges us to focus on world hunger and food-related
injustice worldwide for 11 days. The goals are for all in the UCC to share in
donating 1 million items of healthy food through local congregations, to give
at least $111,111 in online donations to the Neighbors in Need offering, and to
send 11,111 letters to Congress in support of more effective U.S. foreign aid. ACT: Tell a
friend, a co-worker or a stranger about how crazy your church is to believe
that we can end hunger in 11 days. Tell a particular story of something you’ve
seen happen in your church in the past 10 days.
"The church identifies as a serving community – it's
who they are," says the Rev. Elsa A. Peters, associate pastor at First
Congregational UCC. "But meeting the individuals in need has been more of
For 11 years the church has had an active role in serving
the emergency financial needs of the community. Its Community Crisis Ministries
started with a large financial gift and was tasked with giving the money away
in a certain period of time.
"The pot of money has been replenished over and
over," says Peters. "And it continues to go out into the community to
serve those in need."
Taking on the challenge of face-to-face ministry, the church
engaged in its first mission trip this summer. A group from the church went to
Cherryfield, Maine, in July to meet the needs of vulnerable populations along
Maine's seacoast communities.
Continuing to bridge the gap between knowledge and action is
one of the goals of the Mission and Outreach Team at First Congreagational UCC.
The team hosted fellowship time after church services Oct. 30 as a way to
introduce Mission:1 and issues of local and international food justice.
Children were invited to play the "Food Pantry
Game" where game pieces representing good, and not so good, food choices
were to be placed in the pantry. Healthy and helpful items such as rice,
ketchup and soup were sorted against the less favorable pudding cup.
Following the game, children and their families were invited
to bring one of the identified good foods to church the following Sunday. The
donations will be used to restock the churches food pantry that is open during
all church hours and staffed by volunteers.
And the replenishment couldn't have come at a better time,
says Peters. "We've had empty shelves, repeatedly, during this economic
downturn. Even though many of us are hunkering down, it is good to remember
there are others who are needier than we are."
To date the church has collected more than 200 healthy food
items, doubling its Mission:1 goal of 111 items. Members have met their
commitment to write 111 advocacy letters during a potluck party Nov. 3.
As part of its Mission:1 focus, the church hosted the "No More Food Pantries and Soup
Kitchens? Food Security in Maine?" event Nov. 9. Led by Donna Yellen, and
connected with the church's interest in the Maine HungerInitiative, attendees were asked to consider the social and political
consequences of ending statewide food insecurity.
Peters is hopeful for the awareness and engagement that
Mission:1 has inspired.
"What does social justice look like when so many of the
wonderful members of our church have done it in an old paradigm – one that may
no longer be relevant," she says of the church's longstanding commitments
to civil rights and other justice issues. "The tools are different…
Mission:1 has been one of the things that has helped us articulate the