By God's grace, we will be a responsive church.
We commit ourselves to be a church of justice,
mercy and peace so that lives may be renewed,
spirits revived, and worlds transformed.
The Board of Outreach Ministries at First Congregational Church offers many opportunities to become involved, serve, and help make a difference. Many of these are described below.
First Congregational Church welcomes your interest in our programs. If you would like to speak with someone about a project or have suggestions for new outreach efforts, please contact the church office (908 233-2494). To make a financial contribution, please send a check made out to First Congregational Church, with the program name noted in the memo portion of the check. We appreciate your support!
Alternative Gift Program
The Board of Outreach Ministries holds two Alternative Gift Markets each year, one before and one after Thanksgiving, to showcase some of our outreach programs and enable people to purchase alternative gifts ("donation gifts"). Instead of shopping for the perfect gift for a special person in your life, you can make a donation to a particular charity in honor of that person. Your gift brings joy to many! At our Alternative Gift Markets, and throughout the year, you can purchase alternative gifts for future gift giving occasions.
It's always time to donate blood. In conjunction with the NY Blood Center, First Congregational Church will sponsor blood drives through out the year. The New York Blood Center provides life-saving blood products to nearly 200 hospitals in New York, New Jersey and parts of Connecticut and Pennsylvania. The NJ Blood Services Donor Center is located a 2279 South Ave, Scotch Plains, NJ 07076, and can be contacted at 800-933-2566. Dates will be announced in Sunday Morning Live and the Congregationalist.
Bridges Outreach, Inc.
Bridges was started in 1988 and strives to increase awareness of homelessness and the factors that perpetuate it. It attempts to build relationships between persons who are housed and those who are homeless. These relationships are founded on mutual dignity and respect, so that people who are homeless know that they are cared for and valued as individuals, while those who are housed gain a better understanding of the realities of homelessness. First Congregational Church began its participation in Bridges in the fall of 1995 by going on Friday night "Runs". Currently, First Congregational Church participates in Saturday "Runs" four times a year to Newark, NJ with the hopes of adding a few Friday night "Runs" in the future. Additionally, First Congregational Church provides bagged lunches and collects clothing, toiletries, and other essentials for Bridges to distribute.
Childhelp is a collection of villages where neglected or abused children, infancy to 18 years, live. These are young people for whom the government child protective agencies in their respective states can do nothing more. At FCC, we focus on children in this program starting from the age of 2 or 3 years. In February our members contribute toys, clothing, books, and financial donations for this cause.
Church World Service
Church World Service receives donations from churches throughout the U.S., including the United Church of Christ. In turn, Church World Service provides money and supplies for disaster relief as soon as a disaster happens anywhere in the world. They provide services to refugees, immigrants and asylum seekers in addition to HIV/AIDS, human rights, and peace building efforts. We support Church World Service with financial donations, the CROP Walk, and donations of health and school kits which the Youth Fellowship assembles. Each fall FCC participates in the local CROP (Communities Reaching Out in Partnership) Walk in Cranford. You can be a walker or support a walker by donating money to CROP/CWS. Money raised through the CROP Walk is used to provide hope to the poor throughout the world.
The Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless
Established in 1981 in response to the mounting needs of individuals and families in Union County who were homeless or near-homeless, the Coalition has since helped thousands of people each year gain shelter, rental assistance, rent subsidies and permanent housing. On Sunday, March 13, 2011 FCC kicked off its church-wide involvement with "Elizabeth Coalition Day". The Coalition provides advocacy services; crisis intervention; case management; a short-term rent-free transitional housing program allowing families to stabilize themselves; and an after school program for children of individuals and families who are homeless - offering tutoring, recreational, and group support services to the youngsters. For more information on how you can get involved with the Elizabeth Coalition, please contact the church office, 908-233-2494.
The Food Closet is an on-site food pantry started as a Confirmation project in 2006. It has evolved into a regular source of non-perishables and toiletries. Donations are always welcome. Unfortunately, the number of those who need its resources grows each year.
The List Project
The List Project is a U.S. based non-profit founded in 2007 with the belief that the United States has a clear and urgent moral obligation to resettle to safety Iraqis who are imperiled due to their affiliation with the United States. It is the first comprehensive effort to honor the sacrifice of Iraqis who have been forced from their homes and targeted for assassination because they have aided American efforts in Iraq as interpreters, engineers and experts. In 2008 FCC members established The List Project of Central New Jersey that helps Iraqi refugees in our area to resettle and become members of the community.
Marc Hardy Human Rights Award
The BOM administers the Marc Hardy Human Rights Award. This award is presented to young adult(s) 16-22 years of age who have distinguished themselves in the area of human rights. This award is a memorial to Marc Hardy, a member of First Congregational Church, who died tragically in 1990. Contributions are welcome to support this award. For more information, or if you know anyone you would like to nominate for the award, please contact the church office.
FCC's Moving Meditation is a gentle, graceful, movement activity based on ancient Asian Qigong wellness systems. It reduces stress and increases flexibility, and is perfect for beginners. A free-will offering benefits the Board of Outreach programs. Drop-in students are welcome; please call in advance when possible. Watch for a schedule or call the church office.
Prayer Shawl Ministry
FCC has a flourishing Prayer Shawl Ministry. Caring concern and a love for knitting and crocheting have been combined into a ministry that continues to grow. Prayers and blessings for the recipient are knitted into each shawl. Shawls console those who are grieving, comfort those who are ill, and bring hope to those in need. Shawls also express joy in celebrating births, baptisms, friendships, love, and personal achievements. People all over the country and the world are knitting, crocheting, and receiving these wonderful gifts of love. Contact the church office if you would like to knit or crochet a shawl, or if you know of someone who should receive one.
Stamps for the Wounded
The Board of Outreach Ministries supports the "Stamps for the Wounded" program of the Lions International Stamp Club. Just tear the corner with the stamp off the envelope and deposit it in the "Stamp Box" in the Narthex on your way into church. The stamps will be used to help hospitalized veterans productively occupy their eyes, hands, and minds.
The Starfish Project provides Christmas gifts for Plainfield children in need. People are given an opportunity to select a gift recipient, by age and gender, then asked to buy an item of warm clothing and a toy for that child. Volunteers are needed to coordinate this program, wrap the gifts and deliver them to Plainfield. Gifts are collected in December.
A project of "Kids Pax", Sweet Dreams collects comforting bedtime items for children in foster care. FCC members contribute gift packs for recipient children, ages infancy to 12 years, that contain a new pair of pajamas, a stuffed animal, and a bedtime story book. Gifts are collected in December.
WaySharers is an outreach program for adults with developmental disabilities. It provides social and service opportunities aided by non-disabled adults. Participants get to share their unique gifts and talents in a relaxed and fun setting. WaySharers meets every other Friday and on the first Friday of the month participates in a Yoga class. Please contact the church office to volunteer or for more information about the program.
Westfield Food Pantry
Westfield Food Pantry provides emergency food supplies to numerous local families. Sponsored by Holy Trinity, all local churches contribute non-perishable food items, baby supplies, toiletries, etc.
Organizations We Financially Support
Through Communion offering, individual giving, special fund-raisers and the alternative gift program, First Congregational Church provides financial support for a number of organizations beyond those with programs mentioned before. Recently these have included: