|Read about how this offering is transforming lives!|
Neighbors in Need (NIN) is a special mission offering of the United Church of Christ that supports ministries of justice and compassion throughout the United States. One-third of NIN funds support the Council for American Indian Ministry (CAIM). Two-thirds of this offering is used by the UCC's Justice and Witness Ministries (JWM) to support a variety of justice initiatives, advocacy efforts, and direct service projects through grants. Neighbors in Need grants are awarded to UCC churches and organizations doing justice work in their communities. These grants fund projects whose work ranges from direct service to community organizing and advocacy to address systemic injustice. This year, special consideration will be given to projects focusing on serving our immigrant neighbors and communities.
Most UCC congregations will receive the NIN offering on October 7, 2018 as part of their World Communion Sunday observance. however, some local churches select another date. NIN contributions can be made on-line at any time here.
Apply for a Grant
Apply now for a Neighbors in Need Grant.
Applications accepted August 1, 2018 – September 30, 2018. The online application process includes a short prequalifying assessment, a grant application, and FAQ’s to assist you along the way. First time project grants range from $1,000 to $10,000. (Note: Only a handful of $10K grants will be awarded annually.) Only UCC congregations and organizations are eligible to submit proposals. These requests must relate to work supported by General Synod actions in one of the following programmatic areas:
- The Rights and Freedoms of all Persons
- Environmental Justice
- Economic Justice.
For Grant Recipients:
If you were a recipient of a Neighbors in Need (NIN) grant, help us inform our members whose contributions to NIN have made your grant possible about how lives have been transformed because of their generosity. Access the reporting form.
2018 Neighbors in Need Offering Resources
The 2018 theme for the NIN offering is "Love of Neighbor." Most UCC congregations will receive the NIN offering on Sunday, October 7, 2018 as part of their World Communion Sunday observance, but local churches may also select a different date.
To download the digital files, including three posters, bulletin inserts, leader's guide, cover art and social media graphics - fill out the form below.
Introducing a simple tool to help you record and interpret your worship attendance numbers. This spreadsheet allows you to record your attendance figures and track on a graph changes in worship attendance over time. All you need is Excel and information you probably already collect.
The Stillspeaking Ministry adapted this tool based on the one created to serve the people of Country Club Congregational United Church of Christ in Kansas City, MO. Thanks for sharing!
Resources for COMs on the Ministry Issues Pronouncement (General Synod 25)
From the work of the Ministry Issues Implementation Committee in 2009, the following materials were developed to help Committees on Ministry explore the 2005 Pronouncement and the 2009 Draft 3.1. These materials are designed as two-hour workshops or as educational pieces for committee members to read in advance of their work with Members in Discernment.
- Assessing Knowledge and Skills
- Local Churches
- Ministry of COMs
- Personal and Professional Formation
- Regional Programs
- Seminary Programs
Using the Marks
The Committee on Ministry Toolkit
The COM Toolkit is for use by persons such as Conference and Association staff or others who provide committee leadership and are involved in the training and orientation of Committee on the Ministry members. The Toolkit is also helpful to committee members engaged in individual study in order to gain a more in-depth understanding of committee members' roles. The purpose of the Toolkit is to:
- Provide a comprehensive tool for the orientation and training of new and renewing Committee on the Ministry members;
- Assist committee members in their individual efforts to understand the scope and breath of the ministry they have been called to in and on behalf of the church;
- Offer an interactive resource that engages participants in a variety of activities to introduce and broaden committee members' knowledge and understanding of the ministry they are called to perform, in and on behalf of the United Church of Christ.
The Toolkit consists of four key components:
- PowerPoint Presentation consisting of 115 color slides with commentary;
- Presentation Leader's Guide for use with the PowerPoint presentation;
- Facilitator Resource with detailed information on each of the eight units;
- Committee Handouts for each unit.
As you consider the most productive use of this resource with your committee(s), we recommend that you consider using the Committee on the Ministry Toolkit in the following ways:
- Retreat settings that enable a complete overview of the resource and allow for in-depth committee discussion about the total work of the committee;
- Regularly scheduled meetings of the committee where you can engage the committee in discussion of one (or more) aspects of the work. The material is arranged in units making it easier to focus on particular aspects of your work in manageable sessions.
- Immediate resource in response to questions about any aspect of committee work.
UCC Resources - Formula of Agreement
UCC Resources - Guidelines for Resourcing
UCC Resources - Interim Ministry Guide
UCC Resources - Manual on Church (MOC)
UCC Resources - MOC Discussion
UCC Resources - MOC Feedback
UCC Resources - Manual on Ministry - Table of Contents (MOM)
UCC Resources - MOM Section One
UCC Resources - MOM Section Two
UCC Resources - MOM Section Three
UCC Resources - MOM Section Four
UCC Resources - MOM Section Five
UCC Resources - MOM Section Six
UCC Resources - MOM Section Seven
UCC Resources - MOM Section Eight
UCC Resources - MOM Section Nine
UCC Resources - MOM Section Ten
UCC Constitution and Bylaws
Stewardship is a way of life for Christians, a spiritual discipline and approach to daily living that enriches our lives at any age. For children, simple concepts can be discussed and built upon as they grow older. Stewardship education begins with the understanding that God is the source of all that exists, and then we can explore how we are part of what God has brought into being.
An introductory educational packet for children is God's Gifts, My Gifts for use in church and at home. This resource packet teaches that God is the source of who we are and what we have, and is our model for being generous and faithful. Elementary-age children will have fun in class or at home using these five colorful and snappy foldout sheets with individual and group activities, including scriptural texts and prayers to reinforce the church; personal decisions, loving God, self, and others. Use for confirmation and new member classes. Set includes five active lessons: Share Love With Your Offering (available as a single sheet for $.75 each); Seek God with Your Whole Heart; Rooted in Love; Love is the Greatest; Dare 2BU. Set of all five activity sheets plus stickers: 1-10 set, $5.00 each; 11-25 sets, $4.50 each; 26 or more sets, $4.00 each. Item #SCCRS Call United Church of Christ Resources at 800.537.3394 .
Younger children will especially like the interactive nature of Church World Service's global educational site, Build a Village. Children and teens can see how life is different for children in other parts of the world, using a site of the United Nations.
Responsible citizenship is also an important part of stewardship. Young people can learn about our democratic process at a site designed by Congress.
As children move into adolescence and the teen years, more complex questions arise about one’s place in family life and in the world. The responsibilities and joys of receiving God’s gifts are expanded to include more areas of life. Teens will benefit from the spiritual practices outlined at Way to Live, a web companion to the book by the same name, produced by the Valparaiso Project on the Education and Formation of People in Faith. You can order this book.
Adults working with teens can find interesting information about youth trends and studies at the website of the National Study of Youth and Religion. The National Study of Youth and Religion is funded by Lilly Endowment Inc. The project researches the shape and influence of religion and spirituality in the lives of U.S. adolescents; identifies effective practices in the religious, moral and social formation of the lives of youth; describes the extent to which youth participate in and benefit from the programs and opportunities that religious communities are offering to their youth; and fosters an informed national discussion about the influence of religion in youth's lives to encourage sustained reflection about and rethinking of our cultural and institutional practices with regard to youth and religion.
Churches are beginning to see their ministry role in teaching financial literacy to young people. Straightforward financial knowledge and practices can be found at the Kiplinger Financial News site. To help teens start saving money, check out the website of Youth Saves.
Financial habits are stewardship practices, and these sites will help families to consider their choices about spending, shopping, television use, and other decisions influenced by the media and advertisers:
Parents and church leaders will find all sorts of information and ideas for programs and activities at the website of the Youth and Family Institute.
Making Our Churches Safe for All, is a guide to help your church design policies and procedures to help prevent abuse of children. Additional resources are recommended in this guidebook, which can also be ordered in glossy, printed form from the UCC Insurance Board.
The web page of the UCC's Parish Life and Leadership is also filled with resources to support the creation of your congregation's safe-church policy. Contact your own church's insurance carrier if you do not carry insurance through the UCC Insurance Board.
One way to help protect children and youth from child abuse is to provide the ministry of human sexuality education in your congregation.
Your congregation can find further resources to help prevent child abuse and neglect at the Faith Trust Institute. Abuse prevention resources include a Teen Dating curriculum, "Love: All That and More."
On any given day, about 70,000 children and youth are held in juvenile residential detention in the U.S., and an additional 10,000 are incarcerated in adult jails and prisons. Because of their youth, size and developmental status, they are especially vulnerable to maltreatment while incarcerated. According to Justice for Families, one in eight youths report having been sexually assaulted by corrections staff or other minors during their incarceration.
But incarceration is not their only connection to the criminal justice system. Children are twice as likely as adults to be victims of violent crimes. And an estimated 1.5 million children currently have a parent in prison.
Spending time behind bars can have a tremendous effect on the lives of young people. According to Justice for Families, 69 percent of families surveyed reported that it was difficult or very difficult to get their children back into school following a detention. Once in the system, many remain incarcerated or return on new charges. The Annie E. Casey Foundation estimates that within three years of release from detention, up to 72 percent of juvenile offenders are convicted of a new crime. The number of young adults aged 18 to 29 in U.S. prisons is more than 775,000. Once they exit the system, young people who have been incarcerated suffer significant earning losses compared to their peers who have not been incarcerated – up to 30 percent for as long as ten years after their release. This can be offset by good experiences with employment, marriage, and graduation from high school.
There is growing concern that too many children are moving directly from public schools into juvenile detention in a pattern so prominent it has become known as the school to prison pipeline. These may be students whose reading skills are so low in middle school that they fall behind and drop out as they enter high school. They may have fallen into sequential sanctions of zero tolerance discipline policies. They may be students who have never felt connected to any of the adults at school or who have never participated in a co-curricular activity.
We are making progress. In March 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court abolished capital punishment for juvenile offenders. And in June 2012, the Court issued a historic ruling that mandatory life without parole sentences cannot be given for children 17 and younger who are convicted of homicide. The ruling does not ban juvenile life without parole sentences, but requires courts to consider each case carefully, taking into consideration the diminished culpability of children and their capacity for change. This ruling will affect hundreds of people who received life sentences for crimes committed as children, and their sentencing must now be reviewed.
Churches should be concerned about the children who feel hopeless or thrown away. Here are resources that will help you explore the entire continuum of the school-prison pipeline. Then we hope you will find a place where a group from your church can be involved ... anywhere along the pipeline.
November 2012: The National Research Council has published Reforming Juvenile Justice: A Developmental Approach.
The Equal Justice Initiative is a nonprofit human rights organization that focuses on children and the incarcerated, challenges injustices, and works for criminal justice system reform. It currently seeks to end prosecution of children under age 14 as adults and placing juveniles in adult detention. See especially All Children are Children: Challenging Abusive Punishment of Juveniles, EJI, 2012.
The Child Trends Data Bank offers information on children, youth and young adults in the justice system.
There are also several relevant UCC General Synod resolutions which offer more detailed background and discussion, including the Juvenile Justice Resolution (GS23-2001), calling for opportunities for alternative sentencing, education and prevention, and a resolution on Access to Excellent Public Schools: A Child’s Right in the 21st Century (GS23-2001), which led to the convening of the UCC Public Education Task Force.
On the School-to-Prison Pipeline
- Read a New York ACLU Report, Criminalizing the Classroom.
- Read a report from the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative, Deprived of Dignity: Degrading Treatment and Abusive Discipline in New York City & Los Angeles Public Schools.
- Read the Advancement Project's Education on Lockdown: The Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track or Derailed: The Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track.
- Locating the Dropout Crisis from Johns Hopkins University, or Opportunities Suspended: The Devastating Consequences of Zero Tolerance School Discipline Policies from the Civil Rights Project.
On Juvenile Justice
October-November 2009 Youth Criminal Justice Alert: The United Church of Christ Justice & Witness Ministries has become part of an amicus brief in two important cases coming before the U.S. Supreme Court on November 9, 2009: Sullivan v. Florida and Graham v. Florida. Joe Sullivan at the time of his crime lived at home, was mentally disabled and was thirteen years old. That day two older boys convinced Joe to participate in a burglary. That morning the boys took money and jewelry then left the female victim's house. Later that afternoon Ms. Bruner was sexually assaulted but never saw her attacker. One of the two older boys accused Joe Sullivan of the rape, which he denies, and the evidence against him is flimsy, at best. The two older boys received shorter sentences and Joe Sullivan's trial was held in adult court before a six person jury and lasted one day. At age 16 Terrance Graham committed the only offenses for which he has ever been convicted. He was an accomplice to an armed burglary and attempted armed robbery of a restaurant. Graham pled guilty to these offenses stemming from this single incident, and as part of a subsequent probation violation he committed as a juvenile, he was sentenced to the statutory maximum penalty. While these crimes are serious and merit appropriate punishment, they absolutely do not merit life in prison without the possibility of parole. Minors are recognized under all social conditions as persons who are not yet fully developed mentally, psychologically, or physically. To condemn them to life in prison is cruel, unusual and extreme punishment for these or any other crimes. The cruelty and inappropriateness of such sentencing is recognized throughout the world, and has been codified in human rights declarations for decades. Please Note: Joe Sullivan is one of only two 13 year olds who have received life without parole sentences for crimes which the victim did not die. Both of these sentences were imposed in Florida.
- 2012: All Children Are Children: Challenging Abusive Punishment of Juveniles, Equal Justice Initiative.
- October 7, 2009: Children's Exposure to Violence: A Comprehensive National Survey, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
- 2009: From Time Out to Hard Time: Young Children in the Adult Criminal Justice System, Lyndon B. Johnson School of PUblic Affairs, University of Texas at Austin.
- Check out the website of the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, that offers policy analysis, guidance for program development and technical assistance.
- Read a report by Peter E. Leone and Sheri Meisel for the National Center on Education, Disability and Juvenile Justice: Improving Education Services for Students in Detention and Confinement Facilities.
Ministry Issues: Forming and Preparing Pastoral Leaders for God's Church.
The Ministry Issues Pronouncement approved by General Synod 25 in 2005 seeks to address the needs of the UCC for well prepared and faithful ministerial leadership for God's mission in the world both now and in the future. In order to have such well prepared leaders who are able to engage with a geographically and economically diverse, multicultural, multiracial church, it is necessary:
· to expand our definition of learnedness and leadership
· to provide multiple means for persons to be formed and prepared for authorized ministry in the UCC
In order to do this, we must pay attention to:
· our theologies of ministry
· our understanding and practice of licensed ministry
· how we engage in deep and authentic discernment of both call and gifts for ministry
· how we help form leaders with an abiding identity and affinity with the UCC
Ministry Issues Draft 3.1, from the Ministry Issues Implementation Committee in 2009, offers an in-depth exploration of the work and conversations since General Synod 25, including the shift to "Member in Discernment" language and the "Marks of Faithful and Effective Authorized Ministers."
- Las Senales de Los Cristianos Fieles y Ministerios Authorizados
The Marks of Faithful and Effective Authorized Ministers
The following materials help Committees on Ministry explore Draft 3.1; they are designed as workshops that take about two hours, or as pieces to be read by committee members in advance of their work with Members in Discernment.
- Assessing Knowledge and Skills
- Local Churches
- Ministry of COMs
- Personal and Professional Formation
- Regional Programs
- Seminary Programs
Using the Marks
The November 2010 Background Document offers a closer reflection upon the covenants of authorized ministry, in conversation with the Marks. This background document may be helpful in discussing constitutional changes and new understandings fo proposed language. Additionally useful background material includes the 1996 lecture by Clyde J. Steckel; Steckel asserts that Committees on Ministry are the innovators of polity and ecclesiology in the UCC as authorized ministry and denominational ways-of-being shift in ways not imagined by our founders.
Our Church’s Wider Mission Basic Support - the economic lifeblood of our church — is a fundamental covenant in the United Church of Christ. "Covenant Keepers" are UCC churches that support Our Church's Wider Mission (OCWM) Basic Support with "leadership generosity." They step out and take the lead in annual giving to the financial lifeblood of the United Church of Christ. Each one of them gives more than 10% of their operating budget to OCWM Basic Support.
According to the book of Acts (2:44; 4:32) the early church shared all things in common—both the costs and the joys of discipleship.So it is today as we must share increasing costs of being the church together. There will always be multiple demands on our financial resources. But when we know the joy, we accept the cost. "...for the joy set before him he endured the cross." (Hebrews 12:2).
Participating Conferences recognize Covenant Keepers based on percentages of the church's budget (current expenses) given to OCWM Basic Support:
- "Silver" Covenant Keepers give between 10 and 14.9%
- "Gold" Covenant Keepers give 15% and up.
Wherever your church is right now in giving to Our Church's Wider Mission, you can advocate to become a Covenant Keeper congregation by increasing your OCWM Basic Support annually - until you reach "Silver" or "Gold"!
Changing Lives:That’s Our Church’s Wider Mission
Information relating to the practice of Christian Education in the United Church of Christ
Professional Development for UCC Educators