Hobe and Mehl are prepared should fewer than 111
people show up. “We’ll have brown grocery bags of food for fillers,” says Hobe.
“People can take a bag, hold it over their head or place it on the ground next
to them as part of the formation of the ‘1’. "
“We’ll encourage people who don’t have the same
opportunity as Bethany does to take a bag, fill it with non-perishables and give
it to their local food pantry,” says Hobe.
The Mission:1 campaign centers on the UCC’s motto, “That they may all be 1,”
Nov. 1-11, 2011 (11-1-11—11-11-11). During those 11 days, the UCC’s goal is to
collect more than 1 million food and household items for local food banks and
collect $111,111 in online donations for hunger-related causes. At the same
time, it will encourage its 5,300 congregations to advocate for hunger-related
causes worldwide via 11,111 letters to Congress.
According to SONKA records, Hobe says Bethany is
one of the top three per-capita giving churches in the Association. For years,
Bethany members have donated non-perishables to the Lebanon Community Center's
“Once a month, heavy boxes of donations from local
companies are unloaded, while other people fill boxes and bags with food,
health and cleaning items, and paper products to give to people who qualify for
services,” Hobe explains.
Half of the proceeds from a rented cell-phone
tower (on land owned by the church) are given to the Food Pantry each year; the
other half goes to the Interfaith Hospitality Network, which Bethany has worked
with for more than 10 years.
In July, Bethany helped sponsor IHN's main
fund-raiser. “When the church was invited to sponsor a back-to-school special
for IHN children, $700 was given out of pocket for seven children to receive
haircuts, new shoes, new outfits, backpacks and supplies to start school,”
At Christmas, Bethany members donate
non-perishables for baskets given to people who are referred from Lebanon
Community Services. “The perishables are purchased from our Christmas Basket
Fund,” says Hobe. “Last year 20 families were given several days' worth of
food, complete with homemade cookies and a greeting card made by a member.”
Funding for the Christmas baskets comes from budgeting
and the receipt of half of the proceeds from a Christmas raffle hosted by a
local restaurant, Country Kitchen. “For the past three years, Country
Kitchen has held this raffle, and last year's check was almost $500,” says Hobe.
Hobe praised Walter Murray, the owner of Country
Kitchen, for his constant compassion and open door.
“Whenever someone in need stops by the church and
asks for food, I take them to Country Kitchen,” she says. “Walt donates half
the price of the meals, and Bethany provides the other half, plus tip. The
wholesome, homemade food is eaten after I have put up to $40 of gasoline into
the person's car or truck.”
In addition, Bethany has risen to the challenge
the past few years as a “5 for 5 Church,” which supports Our Church’s Wider
Mission through its church budget as well as through OCWM's four special
mission offerings received annually – One Great Hour of Sharing, Neighbors in
Need, Strengthen the Church and the Christmas Fund.
Hobe feels strongly that Bethany embodies the
spirit of Mission:1 and is a prime example of a past UCC branding campaign: “To
believe is to care. To care is to do.”
“That’s what I see a lot of Mission:1 being,” she says.
“We get out there and we do, because that’s what Jesus tells us to do. We’re
just kind of doing Matthew 25.
“We worship an extravagant God who has poured an
extravagant Spirit of generosity into our hearts. May it touch hearts to know
that we are listening and responding to our still-speaking God all the time –
and particularly with Mission:1.”