Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

2016 Update

This year we are delighted to be able to announce a change in our grant format that will allow greater opportunities for partnership in innovative justice work in addition to the responding to request to support existing work.

Because of your commitment and generosity to Neighbors In Need, we are pleased to add five opportunities for "Grass Top Grants" up to $10,000. These grants will be awarded to UCC churches or organizations with innovative ideas to advance justice in our communities.

Additionally, our grant maximum dollar amount is being increased from $3,000 to $5,000. While these changes mean fewer grants will be awarded, we are hopeful that the increased funding will result in an overall greater impact.  All of this is made possible by your generous gifts to the Neighbors in Need offering. Once again, thank you!

Beginning next year, and consequently this year, we will be moving to an annual awarding cycle that will coincide with the taking of the Neighbors in Need special mission offering which occurs for many of our congregations on the first Sunday of October. Additionally, like many of the other grants awarded in the national setting, it will become a digital application only. There will be more information later about these new features and exciting changes coming in the New Year!

Effective immediately, an important change to our granting requirements, we are only funding UCC churches or organizations. We apologize, in advance, if this recent change affects your setting.


1. What is Neighbors in Need?

Through the Neighbors in Need offering, the church expresses a common commitment to justice and compassion throughout the United States and Puerto Rico. One-third of the offering undergirds the work of the Council for American Indian Ministry (CAIM), including much-needed financial support for 20 American Indian congregations in the UCC. Two-thirds of the offering supports justice advocacy and direct service projects such as just-peace programs and community grants.

Most congregations receive Neighbors in Need on the first Sunday of October, World Communion Sunday. A countdown calendar helps congregations plan for the Neighbors in Need offering.

2. How are Neighbors in Need funds shared with others?

Two-thirds of Neighbors in Need supports program initiatives and direct grants offered by the UCC's Justice and Witness Ministries. Small but essential grants are made throughout the year to congregations and organizations engaged in community organizing, public policy advocacy, and direct service. Although grants are made to address a wide range of justice priorities, a significant portion of these grants are made to address issues of hunger and poverty.

One-third of Neighbors in Need supports the work of the UCC's Council for American Indian Ministry (CAIM), which is the voice for American Indians in the United Church of Christ. CAIM supports the work of local churches and their pastors; encourages youth and young adults; supports persons preparing for Christian ministry; empowers American Indians who are members of non-Indian congregations; and advocates for justice on issues affecting American Indian life.

3. How are Neighbors in Need grants allocated?

Justice and Witness Ministries uses its portion of Neighbors in Need for program initiatives and grant-making, so that funds are directly supporting grassroots advocacy and outreach efforts.

Grant applications are reviewed regularly by ministry teams and decisions are made in keeping with funding guidelines and the availability of funds. Most grants are small and non-repeating but are allocated to congregations and organizations where the larger UCC's solidarity can be used to enhance and strengthen the project's overall effectiveness. All applications must include the endorsement of the UCC conference minister.

Although the number and amount of requests far exceed the amount of dollars available, allocated funds are used to plant seeds in congregations and organizations for programs that creatively address systemic issues of injustice on the local, regional, national, or international level. Careful attention is given to make sure that every Neighbors in Need grant recipient reflects the UCC's vision of being a church of Jesus Christ that is multi-racial, multi-cultural, open and affirming, and accessible to all.

4. What American Indian tribes or nations are supported by Neighbors in Need?

Historically, the forebears of the UCC established churches with the Lakota, Dakota, Nakota, Mandan, Hidatsa, Arickara, and Ho-Cak in North and South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Northern Nebraska. Today, there are 19 UCC congregations on reservations and one urban inter-tribal congregation in Minneapolis. In addition, there are more than 1,000 individuals from dozens of other tribes and nations scattered in nearly every conference in the UCC. Your contributions to Neighbors in Need directly impact the UCC's ability to support American Indian ministries and congregations.

5. What happened to the "Just Peace Appeal?"

The Just-Peace Appeal is now part of Neighbors in Need. Through Neighbors in Need, the UCC remains strongly committed to ministries of peacemaking, violence reduction, conflict resolution, federal budget priorities, and global solidarity. For more information on Just Peace/Peace With Justice ministries, contact the Rev. Mike Neuroth, Justice and Witness Ministries, at 202-543-1517 or by e-mail at

Individuals and congregations with long-standing commitments to the Just Peace Appeal are encouraged to continue their support for this vital ministry by strengthening their support for Neighbors in Need.

6. Can any portion of Neighbors in Need be retained?

Since the former Just Peace Appeal included a congregation-conference-national sharing of proceeds, some have inquired about continuing this practice with Neighbors in Need. Per instructions set forth by the UCC General Synod, all offerings received are used to support the ministries outlined above. A separate national offering, Strengthen the Church, does utilize a funding formula whereby 50 percent of receipts are retained by your respective conference.

Neighbors in Need does support local mission efforts around the UCC through grants allocated by Justice and Witness Ministries. This, in effect, brings Neighbors in Need funds back to local churches and conferences for specific mission projects.

7. Additional Questions?

For information on Neighbors in Need promotional materials and suggestions on strengthening your congregation's support for the offering, contact Bentley de Bardelaben in Justice and Witness Ministries, at or (216) 736-3713.

Through our generous gifts to Neighbors In Need, the United Church of Christ is offering hope to millions of people; we are transforming lives, the nation, and our world.

Contact Info

Annie Congress
Administrative Assistant, Justice & Witness Ministries
700 Prospect Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44115