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.
You can make a difference. The Board of Outreach Ministries at First Congregational Church offers many opportunities to become involved, serve, and make a positive impact in the world. Many of these are described below.
YEAR ROUND DONATION OPPORTUNITIES:
Bridges Outreach: A Union County-based organization assisting people who are homeless or in transitional housing. FCC continues to provide bagged lunches once a month and other essentials to Bridges for distribution, but funding is needed to pay for transportation costs.
Doctors Without Borders: A Nobel Peace Prize winner, it is an international medical humanitarian organization delivering emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, natural and man-made disasters and exclusion from health care, in over 70 countries. Donations fund the medical professionals and other volunteers in thousands of aid missions each year.
Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless: A Union County-based organization assisting individuals and families who are homeless or near homeless, gain shelter, rental assistance, rent subsidies, transitional housing and permanent housing. Donations fund the staff and volunteers that provide case management, crisis intervention, an after-school program for children, and housing/life skills related education.
FCC's Food Closet: Located at here at FCC, the Food Closet provides food and supplies to the needy in our community. On average 5-6 individuals/families “walk-in” each week, many in dire circumstances relating to difficult medical or housing situations. Donations help fund the supply of food, toiletries and/or grocery gift cards.
Heifer International: An international organization providing animals such as chicks, ducks, goats and sheep to needy families. Donations will fund the purchase of animals that provide both food for the recipient families as well as a source of family income to raise their standard of living.
Caring Contact: Located in Westfield, Caring Contact is a caring and crisis hotline serving callers in need throughout New Jersey. The organization is devoted to promoting emotional wellbeing by providing opportunities for people to express themselves to compassionate listeners in a safe environment.
Roots and Wings: Roots and Wings provides those who age out of the foster care system with safe housing, educational support, counseling, and life skills in order to empower them toward self-sufficiency. Your donation will help support several homes in Union County for deserving young adults transitioning to independence.
Hurricanes Harvey & Irma
In the wake of the recent natural disasters the Board of Outreach would like to share several resources for disaster relief.
*The United Church of Christ’s Global Sharing of Resources team has created a Hurricane Harvey disaster page with suggestions on ways people in the wider church can help going forward: http://www.ucc.org/disaster_hurricane_harvey. Donations to the Emergency USA fund can be made online from this page. If you prefer to donate by mail, make checks payable to United Church of Christ, with "Hurricane Harvey" in the memo. Mail to: United Church of Christ c/o Financial Services, 700 Prospect Ave E, Cleveland, OH 44115-1100
*http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/08/28/546745827/looking-to-help-those-affected-by-harvey-here-s-a-list provides a list of other organizations providing various types of relief to Texas hurricane victims including everything from diapers to pet rescue/care.
*American Red Cross www.redcross.org
According to Bob Ottenhoff, president and CEO of the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, now is not the time to donate products or services. Instead, he says, “people should send money to groups they trust, and that have the ability to provide aid where it’s needed most.”
Prayer Shawl Ministries – Calling All Knitters and Crocheters!
The Prayer Shawl Ministry will be in full swing again this Fall. Caring concern and the love of knitting and crocheting have been combined into a ministry to reach out to those in our community in need of comfort and prayers. 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. Kits are provided with wool and instructions. Anyone interested in knitting or crocheting a shawl, please see Laurie Mills to pick up a kit or pick one up in the Deacons closet outside Chapel Lounge and sign your name in the notebook. Lets start getting those shawls ready to be delivered and keep this caring and embracing ministry going. Let's spread our warmth and love! Any questions, please contact Laurie Mills (908) 304-5193.
CURRENT NEEDS AND OPPORTUNITIES:
HELP US HELP OTHERS:
Volunteers are needed for the Saturday Morning Fun Club – a weekly club for Syrian Refugees to be held at Temple Emanu-El on Saturday mornings, 10 am– 2 pm.
Adults and young adults are needed to help at the actual club AND adults are needed to drive to or from Elizabeth and surrounding towns transporting members of the club. Activities will include homework help for children, reinforcing reading & math skills, book clubs, conversational practice for adults, games, art projects, and of course a snack!
Contact Alissa Berger at email@example.com or Jenny Tananbaum at firstname.lastname@example.org or Temple Emanu-El at (908)389-1263.
Our Food Closet – We are in urgent need of the following: condiments (ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, salad dressing), ready-to-eat foods, soup, tuna, hygiene products (bar/liquid soap, toothpaste, mouthwash, shampoo, conditioner, body lotion), snacks (cookies, chips, crackers), beverages (juice, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, boxed milk, soda, water), cooking oil, cleaning supplies, and paper products (paper towels, toilet tissue, facial tissue). We also need frozen dinners and vegetables. If you would like to donate frozen foods, we can put them in the Deacons’ freezer in Coe kitchen.
First Congregational Church welcomes your interest in our outreach programs. Through volunteer efforts, communion offerings, individual giving, special fund-raisers and an alternative gift program, First Congregational Church provides support for a number of organizations. 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
- Bridges Outreach, Inc.
- Church World Service
- Caring Contact
- Doctors without Borders / Médecins Sans Frontières
- The Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless
- FCC Food Closet
- FCC Youth Mission Trip
- FISH Hospitality Program
- Heifer International
- The List Project
- Marc Hardy Human Rights Award
- Moving Meditation
- Neighbors in Need Special Mission Offering (UCC)
- One Great Hour of Sharing (UCC)
- Our Church's Wider Mission (OCWM)
- Prayer Shawl Ministry
- Roots and Wings
- Stamps for the Wounded
- Sweet Dreams
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 birthdays, holidays, or any future gift giving occasions.
Bridges Outreach, Inc.
Founded in 1988, Bridges reaches out to the homeless in New York City, Newark, Irvington, and Summit, New Jersey every week. Over 2,000 volunteers each year help deliver 100,000 meals, seasonal clothing, and necessities without question and with genuine respect. It is Bridges’ goal 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. FCCbegan its participation in Bridges in the fall of 1995 by going on Friday night “Runs”. FCC continues to participate in Friday or Saturday night “Runs” several times a year to serve the homeless in Newark or NYC. Additionally, on a monthly basis, FCC prepares and provides bagged lunches and collects clothing, toiletries, and other essentials for Bridges to distribute. Your financial support is essential to sustain the monthly efforts of our FCC volunteers to provide these lunches and items for distribution to those in need. May 2016 article on YF helping bridges http://sections.nj.com/SS/Page.aspx?sstarg&facing=true&secid=158455&pagenum=29
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. 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.
CONTACT We Care is an award-winning, volunteer-staffed caring and crisis hotline serving Central and Northern New Jersey since 1975. They are also a responder within New Jersey to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. They respond to people in need via phone and texting and their more than 200 volunteer listeners and texters handle more than 15,000 calls/texts per year. Theirs is the only general listening service for all of North and Central New Jersey, a service area with 3.0 million inhabitants in Union, Somerset, Middlesex, Essex and Morris counties. Contact We Care also provides suicide prevention training to first responders, clergy and community groups, business managers and educators and parents.
Doctors Without Borders / Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)
Doctors Without Borders / Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is a private, international association made up mainly of doctors and health sector workers.
Every year, MSF provides emergency medical care to millions of people caught in crises in some 70 countries around the world. They provide assistance when catastrophic events—such as armed conflict, epidemics, malnutrition, or natural disasters—overwhelm local health systems. MSF also assists people who face discrimination or neglect from their local health systems or when populations are otherwise excluded from health care. They do so irrespective of race, religion, creed, or political convictions. On any given day, more than 30,000 doctors, nurses, logisticians, water-and-sanitation experts, administrators, and other qualified professionals working with MSF can be found providing medical care around 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 was one of the first organizations to advocate on behalf of homeless people in the State of New Jersey.. It has since helped thousands of people each year gain shelter, rental assistance, rent subsidies and permanent housing. Their mission is to serve the immediate needs of the homeless/ near homeless, empower people with tools to transition to safe, affordable, permanent housing, and advocate for people to achieve housing equity and participate in the larger community.
On Sunday, March 13, 2011 FCC kicked off its church-wide involvement with “Elizabeth Coalition Day”. Our FCC community continues to be a supporter of the service and programs of the Elizabeth Coalition by providing clothing, supplies, food, financial support, and through various volunteer efforts throughout the year. For more information on how you can get involved with the Elizabeth Coalition, please contact the church office, 908-233-2494.
The FCC 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 and needed. Unfortunately, the number of those who need its resources grows each year, and your generous donations of items and financial support are greatly appreciated.
FCC Youth Mission Trip
link to youth group
Through fundraising, and prayers for their travel and mission work, the youth of First Congregational Church of Westfield are able to participate in a week of volunteerism and fellowship with service organizations and mission projects around the United States. The mission trip has become a summer tradition. You can support this mission at the annual tag sale, purchasing shop rite gift cards or making a donation.
FISH Hospitality Program
The mission of the FISH Hospitality Program (FHP) is to serve homeless families and single women by providing shelter and meals, and such other assistance as they are able, in order to give them a new opportunity to live independently in their communities as respected families and individuals. FHP does assist and enable their guests to obtain housing, jobs, medical services, and other assistance to which they are entitled, as far as resources allow. FHP serves people in need without regard to race, religion, national origin, or disability. Three to four times per year, FCC provides weekly meals to families who are temporarily provided shelter at a nearby Presbyterian church.
Heifer International's mission is to work with communities to end world hunger and poverty and to care for the Earth. It was founded over 70 years ago on the ‘teach a man to fish’ philosophy, a philosophy which continues toinspires their work to end hunger and poverty throughout the world to this day.
Heifer helps bring sustainable agriculture and commerce to areas with a long history of poverty. Their animals provide partners with both food and reliable income, as agricultural products such as milk, eggs and honey can be traded or sold at market. Families in Heifer project communities see higher incomes, healthier livestock and better access to education.
The core of their model is “Passing on the Gift”. This means families share the training they receive, and pass on the first female offspring of their livestock to another family, extending the impact of the original gift.
Our donations and financial support make it possible for Heifer to continue to help families achieve self-reliance by providing them the tools they need to sustain themselves.
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,click on the green link above or please contact the church office. 908-233-2494
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. View the church calendar from the FCC website or call the church office to see when classes are being held. 908-233-2494.
Moving Meditation raising money for various FCC outreach programs...
Neighbors in Need (NIN) Special Mission Offering (UCC)
Neighbors in Need is a special mission offering of the UCC 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 the 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.
Our Church's Wider Mission (OCWM)
Our Church's Wider Mission
In partnership with the whole United Church of Christ to fund local, nationwide and worldwide ministries of the UCC for healing, teaching, worshipping, seeking justice, saving lives, restoring hope and showing the light of God.
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.
Roots and Wings
Since 1999, Roots & Wings has been providing young adults who age out of the foster care system in NJ with safe housing, educational support, counseling, and life skills in order to empower them toward self-sufficiency. Established in 1999, it is made up of professional staff, trained mentors and dedicated volunteers. Roots & Wingsgenerates funding from various sources to ensure those in the program have safe housing and receive personal support and guidance related to achieving educational goals, attaining life skills, securing job opportunities, having access to health services and the encouragement and guidance required to gain the skills that lead to successful assimilation into society. Early in 2014, members of FCC began collaborating with Roots & Wings to help aged-out foster youth in our county. Fundraising and recruiting volunteers are ongoing, and their collaborative efforts have made possible the housing and sponsorship of two youths during the fall of 2014.
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.
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.