Charles C. may have never heard about the UCC's Neighbors in Need special mission offering, but as a client of the New York City Rescue Mission Society, he has experienced the benefits of the UCC's annual collection in support of the church's works of justice and compassion in the United States and Puerto Rico.
The New York City Rescue Mission is one of dozens of organizations that have received a grant from the offering's proceeds.
Each year, two-thirds of Neighbors in Need (NIN) supports program initiatives and direct grants offered by the UCC's Justice and Witness Ministries (JWM), including hunger action programs, policy advocacy, just peace ministries and community organizing. One-third supports the work of the UCC's Council for American Indian Ministries and, in turn, its direct support of 20 American Indian congregations throughout the UCC.
The suggested date for receiving the 2003 NIN offering is October 5, World Communion Sunday.
"Many of us wonder how can we really make a difference in the world," says Bernice Powell Jackson, JWM's executive minister. "How can we work for world peace? How can we help end hunger? How can we support justice and fairness? Well, a gift to Neighbors in Need is something concrete that we all can do. It allows our church's voice to be heard and our caring to be felt."
Last year, UCC members gave $1,420,004 to NIN. Less than six percent of receipts were spent on promotional costs, says William Morgan, the UCC's chief financial officer, making it a "remarkable investment" of UCC members' dollars.
Each congregation is provided with resources in quantity to promote the offering; however, additional resources can be ordered from United Church of Christ Resources by calling 800/325-7061.
In 2001, the number of all-church offerings was reduced from six to four The ministries funded by the Hunger Action Fund and the Just Peace Appeal, once separate offerings, are now supported through contributions to Neighbors in Need. Jackson says this means that, more than ever, increased levels of congregational support and participation are needed for NIN.