UCC churches using CROP Walk to maintain Mission:1 momentum
Written by Jeff Woodard
September 27, 2011
United Church of Christ churches across the
nation are responding in leaps and bounds to the UCC Mission:1 campaign. And
large numbers are taking it one step at a time in incorporating the annual
autumn CROP Hunger Walk into their Mission:1 plan.
Among churches taking part in the CROP Walk are
Chesterfield (Va.) UCC, First Congregational UCC in Bloomfield, Conn., and First
Congregational UCC in Eugene, Ore.
Though participation in the past 20 years has
varied from a couple dozen walkers to just three or four at times, Chesterfield's
pace of giving for CROP Walk is accelerating.
"In the 1990s, we were a relatively large
congregation with a lot of families, and we averaged 22-23 walkers," says Gail
Christie, a church member who has coordinated Chesterfield's CROP walkers since
1987. "We then had ministerial change and a large loss of membership, and since
the mid-2000s we've averaged fewer than 10 walkers."
"Last year we had 14 participants and raised
nearly $2,300 –– the largest amount of any of the participating groups in the
local walk," Christie adds. "Before last year, the largest amount we had raised
was $1,963. That was in 1988 with 28 walkers."
CROP (Community Response to Overcome Hunger)
Hunger Walks are community-wide
events sponsored by Church World Service
(CWS) and organized by local congregations. Chesterfield UCC's walk will be held Nov. 6, in the middle of
the UCC's Mission:1 campaign geared toward fighting hunger worldwide.
Christie cites a "dedicated core" of
participants for Chesterfield's success in the event.
"The congregation has contributed regardless of
the number of walkers, so the funds raised are much more consistent than the
number of walkers," says Christie, who also coordinates the larger
Richmond-area CROP Walk.
Christie says that after Chesterfield UCC's
sister congregation in Richmond, St. John's UCC, became a host congregation for
the walk, she had to pitch in as coordinator. "I
resisted for years, but when St. John's UCC took it over, I couldn't say no
anymore," she says with a laugh. "They're a sister congregation, so I had to
First Congregational UCC in Bloomfield, Conn., has been
crafting a "Project of Elevens" as a unique CROP Walk tie-in to Mission:1. The
project calls for outreach programs in multiples of 11.
"Our Project of Elevens will include 11
or 22 walkers in the CROP Walk Oct. 16," said church spokesman David Hager. "We
will be collecting food for 66 Thanksgiving baskets for our community and
bringing in contributions, again in multiples of 11, for the famine relief
effort in Somalia and for our Bloomfield Food Pantry," said organizer David
The church also is presenting weekly
thought-provoking topics related to hunger to the congregation. "For example,"
said Hager, "what does a family of four live on if one person works for the
minimum wage 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year? Is this above or
below the poverty line?"
Eugene, Ore., at First Congregational UCC, church members will make their debut
CROP trek Oct. 16 at Alton Baker Park.
walk is being sponsored by our local food bank, Food for Lane County," says
Mary Mowday, church recruiter for the event. "It's an interfaith coalition of
about a dozen faith communities throughout Oregon."
says 18 church members are signed up to walk, with youth group members coming
on board recently. In addition, the church hopes that students from the
University of Oregon, where fall classes are about to begin, will join in the
year, the interfaith churches raised about $20,000, which was forwarded to Food
for Lane County and Church World Service, says Mowday. CWS uses proceeds for
international food relief.
intent of the CROP Walk is to raise money, but it's also raising awareness in
our community about hunger right here," she says. "And we've all seen the
stories on the news about Somalia. This gives people a way to help."
Congregational has a history of participation in hunger-relief work. "Every
month we provide volunteers for the food kitchen and the Dining Room, which serves
meals to homeless people," says Mowday. "Our church has responded really well
in that area."
The Mission:1 campaign plays on the UCC's motto, "That they
may all be one." From Nov. 1 to 11, the UCC will collect more than 1 million
food and household items for local food banks, $111,111 in online donations for
food-related justice ministries, $111,111 for East Africa famine relief, and
11,111 letters to Congress advocating for hunger-related causes worldwide.
For further information, log on to www.ucc.org/mission1