SPOTLIGHT RE-CAP: Local Churches Making God’s Love and Justice Real

8/12/2015

Throughout the past year, many churches reached out to one another, to neighbors of other faith traditions, and to their communities -- in order to make God's love and justice real. Here's a recap. 
 
North Falmouth Congregational Church
 
North Falmouth Congregational Church came up with a creative approach to spending their mission monies.  The Outreach team challenged the neighboring First Congregational Church and Waquoit Congregational Church to compete in a fast-paced game-show style trivia contest about Bible heroes, places, and firsts. North Falmouth put up the prize money and First Church provided the facilities. All three churches provided baked goods for the concession stand. The winner received $1000, second place $500, and third place $250 for their sponsored charities. Prizes were awarded to representatives from each charity at the event conclusion. 
 
Congregational Christian Church of Somerset, UCC,
 
The Congregational Christian Church of Somerset, UCC, took an extra step and involved the entire congregation, and even the community, in the children’s messages in order to wrap a person in warmth and God’s spirit. Each child in Sunday School was tasked with illustrating an assigned Bible story on a piece of fabric, and then presenting their artwork and its meaning to the congregation. The individual pieces of art were then hung in the church office for all to see.  At the end of the school year, a member of the church sewed all the pieces together into several quilts, which were donated to the homeless in the local community.
 
Promise Church pots and pans program for homeless
 
People without homes were also on the mind and hearts of the members of Promise Church, a new church start (in care of the Pilgrim Association of the Conference) which gathers in homes in the Weymouth/Quincy area. When Promise Church learned that families were responsible for supplying their own household goods when they left a shelter for a place of their own, the members took advantage of a supermarket stamp program and enlisted the help of their friends. UCC church folks and many others throughout the community donated stamps, which were then combined and redeemed. The result was 40 free saucepans, fry pans and chef’s pans donated to Friends of the Homeless of the South Shore. It shows that even a small church can make a big difference to those in their community.
 
First Church Cambridge, Congregational, UCC
 
Every Friday at noon, volunteers transform the First Church in Cambridge, Congregational, UCC hall into The Friday Café, complete with serving tables, café seating and music streamed from the Internet. They invite their homeless and marginalized neighbors in for good, nourishing food. The pastor says that there is a spirit about the Friday Café that is hard to capture in words  - a spirit of kindness and peace that carries over into their (optional) Communion service. 
 
Trinity Church in Shelburne Falls
 
Trinity Church in Shelburne Falls – a  federated church – looked for ways to build connections within the Christian denominations and also between different religious faiths. So they reached out to the Shelburne Falls Shambhala Center to explore Buddhist teachings. The two organizations collaborated to show a film and hold scripture discussion in an attempt to get folks together who might want to delve deeper into the layers of commonality.  One of the many attendees said that it was a blessing to come together in harmony for exploration of their oneness.
 
Nahant Village Church
 
Buddhism wasn’t the only other faith that was addressed by local churches. The Nahant Village Church invited Keli Khatib – a modern convert to Islam – to be their community breakfast speaker. Keli and her son Alexander, a student at Swampscott High School, conveyed how they live out their faith, answered questions, and helped the 50 attendees understand the differences among Islam, Christianity and Judaism, as well as the commonalities, including sharing the same God, and many of the same stories. According to the church’s pastor, the presentation was informative and grace-filled, and helped overcome stereotypes, misconceptions and fear.
 
Church on the Hill, UCC in Lenox
 
The members of  Church on the Hill, UCC in Lenox held an Open Communion Meal worship at the Lenox Community Center, with whom the church has had a long time relationship. The worship service was centered around tables and celebrated a Sacred Feast – a brunch with a bluegrass/gospel band, songs, prayers and shared stories for nourishing body and soul. This event met their goal of welcoming the people of Lenox and inviting them to experience how God comes to us in our ordinary lives through music, scripture, storytelling and eating. This occasion was well attended and represented a fresh style of worship that speaks to the many folks in the Lenox community who are spiritual but not religious.
 




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