Installed on Sept. 3 and designating the day's offering to Mission: 1, the Rev. Bob David of First Congregational UCC in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is taking a stand against hunger. He pretty much has to – he can hardly get into his chair on the altar.
"It was his idea to pile the donations around and on his chair so he would have to sit in the pew during the service,” said Dawn Moriarty, chair of the church's Mission and Outreach Committee. "Each week, I take the donations and continue stacking the items, moving them around so they don't fall over. That's getting harder to do. We have 610 items up there and have collected $1,193.11.”
To aid in the effort, another member of the mission and outreach committee asked the manager of a local grocery store to loan the church two small grocery carts for 11 weeks. The manager obliged.
From Nov. 1-11, 2011 (11-1-11 to 11-11-11), the UCC goal will be to collect more than 1 million food and household items for local food banks, as well as $111,111 in online donations for hunger-related ministries and $111,111 in online donations for East Africa famine relief. The UCC will also ask its 5,300 congregations to advocate for hunger-related causes worldwide via 11,111 letters to Congress
Other UCC churches fueling Mission:1 momentum:
* The blended community of Spirit of the Lakes and Minnehaha UCCs in Minneapolis is holding Wednesday evening educational programs covering topics such as overeating, local hunger, African famine and food-poverty connections. "In connection with the theme, we will serve only a half cup of rice and some water to each person after church on Oct. 16,” said the Rev. James Pennington, pastor of Spirit on the Lakes. "No coffee and goodies.”
* At First Church UCC in Lombard, Ill., the 11 church council members have each pledged to ask 11 people for $11 apiece – and to ask that those who give, in turn, to contact 11 people for $11, and so on. Proceeds for the "11 Give $11 Get 11" challenge will go to the Community Table, the local soup kitchen, said the Rev. Robert Hatfield, senior minister.
* St. Paul's UCC of Erie, Pa., will be collecting food through Nov. 6 to donate to a local food bank. "We are a small church, but we have big hearts,” said Alice Niebauer, church council president. "We house an inner-city homeless day shelter and are very aware of the need for food especially in the winter months.”
* At Harrisburg (Pa.) Colonial Park UCC, congregants comprising 11 church groups – including the choir, Sunday school classes, office personnel, handbell ringers, church council, young adult group and youth group – will collect at least 11 of one specific item. After 11 days, bags filled with the items will be placed on the altar.
* The "1's” are wild at Union Congregational UCC in Somonauk, Ill., where leaders' goals include: 111 new visitors in church; 11 new members; 11 percent increased giving; 11 new or revitalized ministries; 11 compliments a day; 11 pieces of trashed picked up per day; 11 pennies saved per day; 11 acts of kindness per week; and 11 smiles per day.
* The goal at Country Club Congregational UCC in Kansas City is to collect donations to provide local families with Thanksgiving dinner. "We will hand out flyers in our neighborhood to let people know about our church and that it was the ancestors of the UCC that organized the first Thanksgiving,” said church spokesperson Paul Osgood.
* At Sylvania (Ohio) UCC, food-collection efforts will be spiced by the autumn season: A pumpkin patch made of leaf pumpkin bags will be filled with food.
* At First Plymouth UCC in Lincoln, Neb., church members will be place 11 food barrels in a variety of locations around the church campus starting on Children's Sabbath, Oct. 16.
For more information on Mission:1 please visit ucc.org/mission1.
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