A number of United Church of Christ congregations answering the call to welcome the stranger will be gifted with grants to continue this holy mission, as the denomination's National Office firms up plans to distribute the Giving Tuesday offering.
$27,670 was gifted on November 27, 2018 from donors across the wider church to support the sacred work of the UCC's immigrant welcoming congregations and sanctuary churches. The generous response to Giving Tuesday will help fund many long-standing ministries as well as emerging ministries around the country.
While further details will be announced in March, Justice and Local Church Ministries (JLCM) is working with Conference Ministers to identify a congregation or organization in each conference that may be gifted with a grant to continue to make a difference in the lives of people seeking help — whether they are offering shelter, medical care, food, clothing, resettlement aid, or legal assistance. In addition, the opportunity to receive grants through an application process will also commence in May. The Church wants to fund ministries helping migrants find a new way of life in their local communities.
The Giving Tuesday offering was taken as thousands of people continued to head north from Central America in an effort to enter the United States seeking protection, asylum or sanctuary. The denomination surpassed its goal of raising $25,000 to bolster support to local churches, to keep up with the increasing needs of this growing population.
Also growing is the number of UCC churches that are doing this sacred work. Within the last 18 months the number of churches identifying as immigrant welcoming and/or sanctuary churches has more than doubled, taking the number to well over 100 churches.
"We are grateful for the work our people are doing to support and strengthen our local churches and we are honored to serve a co-laborers in that work," said the Rev. Traci Blackmon, JLCM's associate general minister. "Our intention in this effort is three-fold – to strengthen the collaboration between Churches, Conferences, and the national setting, to better identify our sanctuary and immigrant welcoming churches and to increase tangible support to local congregations engaged in this holy ministry."
Learn more about advocacy and our national community of immigrant welcoming churches here.