First Church is committed to being a church that cares about the world around us and our brothers and sisters in the Greater New Britain community who are less fortunate.
A majority of our mission funds are given to the United Church of Christ’s Missionary Society of Connecticut, which disburses these funds to areas in need in the United States and around the world.
UCC Christmas Fund . . . For 116 years, the Christmas Fund for the Veterans of the Cross and the Emergency Fund has been a tangible expression of God’s love and light in the world. One of the four Special Mission Offerings of the United Church of Christ, the Christmas Fund provides UCC congregations and members an opportunity to reach out in kindheartedness to those who have faithfully shepherded our Church and who now find themselves facing unexpected financial needs. One of the unique aspects of the Christmas Fund is that the funds provide direct financial assistance to individual UCC clergy and lay church employees – the funds do not support programs or institutions, but people.
In 2016, UCC congregations and members generously contributed $1,562,260 to the Offering. This enabled the United Church Board for Ministerial Assistance, the charitable arm of the Pension Boards, to provide, on behalf of the whole Church, Supplementation of Small Annuities, Retiree Health Premium Supplementation, Emergency Grants, and Christmas “Thank You” Gift Checks to individuals and families in need.
The theme of the 2017 Christmas Fund Offering is Shepherding the Light, and our goal is to raise $1.7 million to help support these ministries of light and love. The recipients of these gifts have faithfully served the church and now, in their time of need, we can be the church to them. We invite and encourage you to shepherd God’s light and support this year’s appeal.
On behalf of the hundreds of clergy and lay employees and their families whose lives were touched by your support of last year’s Christmas Fund Offering, we offer our sincere thanks for your generosity! ~The Pension Boards—United Church of Christ, Inc.
This year we will receive this special UCC offering on Sunday, December 17th .
Holy Joe’s Cafe . . . This year, the “Christmas Offering” that is received on Christmas Eve has been designated to go to “Holy Joe’s Café”; a project that helps to provide coffee for service people. United Church of Christ military chaplains found an old way to invite U.S. soldiers into a safe and informal place where they can receive spiritual care and good coffee. By offering a place to come, relax, and talk with chaplains, the “Coffee House and Café Ministries” provide our military personnel with a place where they can be emotionally and spiritually renewed and have a moment of peace as well as a good cup of coffee. It opens doors to communication and allows troops to begin to heal their concerns and relieve their burdens related to the home front or their deployment. In 2015, thanks to donations, 151 Chaplains were able to participate. This offering is collected at the Christmas Eve, December 24th, service and there is a special envelope marked “Christmas Offering” in your box of giving envelopes. If you do not have these, a special envelope will be included in the bulletin for you to use.
OSGOOD FOOD PANTRY NEEDS AND UPDATES
In November and December we are asking parishioners to bring in personal care items. This would include such items as toothpaste, toothbrushes, floss, soap, lotion, shower get, deodorant . . . and the list goes on. These are things we take for granted that aren’t affordable to many.
As always, any and all donations are welcome Sunday and during office hours. Thank you to all who brought in soup and other food donations over the past month. We could not support this mission without your help.
4th ANNUAL SOCK COLLECTION
As cold weather approaches, there will once again be a Sock Basket in the Narthex for you to place your donations in. Please note that only new socks can be accepted. Thank you!
Once again, we participated in the “Adopt-A-Family” program sponsored by the Friendship Center. We were able to help families in our community have a joyous holiday by providing gifts, which will be given to clients in their Outreach program. Look for our “gift tree” in the Narthex during Advent for gift ideas.
THANKSGIVING FOOD BASKETS FOR ADOPT-A-FAMILY PROGRAM
Once again, our Missions & Congregational Life Working Group provided five Thanksgiving food baskets to the “Adopt-A-Family” program through the Friendship Service Center. Thank you to all who helped out neighbors enjoy a bountiful Thanksgiving.
THANKSGIVING SPECIAL MISSION OFFERING
This year’s special Thanksgiving Offering had been designated to go to the Family Promise Project. Their mission is “Ending homelessness one family at a time, by partnering with local congregations”. The collection was taken on Sunday prior to Thanksgiving and we thank all who contributed to this collection.
BREAD BAKING THANKS AND REMINDER
Thank you to Martha Moses, Joyce Anderson, Lois MacFarlane and Lois Zink for baking during the month of November. Bakers are needed for Sunday January 7th and all Sundays after January 21st. Please sign up, in the Narthex before church or during coffee hour, to bake two welcome breads to be given out to visitors, returning members or those having difficulty in their lives. Any kind of homemade bread is appreciated, from yeast breads to sweet breads to bread from mixes. We are, again, asking for bakers to make some extra loaves to keep in the freezer; just bring in the loaves and place in the marked box in the kitchen freezer. Thank you!
MISSIONS PROJECT: BOX TOPS
As many of you know, schools throughout our area collect “Box Tops”. These are found on various grocery items and are used by the schools as way to earn money to cover non-budgeted items. All “Box Tops” that we collect will go to help the children at Gaffney School. Look for our ‘BOX TOP” Collection Box in the Narthex.
Please remember that our prayer shawl ministry is an outreach ministry. Yes, prayer shawls are for those in our congregation who are ill or grieving; however, they are also for people outside our membership. So if you have a family member, a friend, or a co-worker who you think might appreciate a soft, warm symbol of God’s love, please let Lois MacFarlane or Kristine Lewko know and they will get you one of our beautiful prayer shawls.
On a more “hands on” level, we are a dedicated supporter of the Osgood Food Pantry. Through the generous food donations of our members, we strive to make the lives of those struggling with food insecurity a little bit easier. We have also been a long time supporter of Rebuilding Together (www.rebuildingtogether.org). This past year, through the Florence Morgan Fund, we gave a monetary amount at the level of a Platinum Sponsor and on Rebuilding Day sent a team of parishioners to help with the repair projects of a local homeowner.
The Friendship Service Center (www.friendshipservicecenter.org) has been a special organization to First Church members for many years. Our Annual Sneaker Sunday raises money for them and with a walk through Walnut Hill Park on that day, we try to raise awareness of the needs of the homeless in our city. We also participate in their Adopt-A-Family program and donate Thanksgiving food baskets and Christmas gifts.
This Fund’s charge is to distribute income from investments for foreign needs and for local and United States needs. This Fund can be added to at any time. It was begun in 1935 and small bequests were added over the years by women of the church who saw a special need for such a fund. Donations are carefully and happily distributed, usually twice a year.
Our projects for distribution overseas come from requests we make for unbudgeted needs through the United Church Board of World Ministries. Special needs of women and children are often considered before general needs. We pray that our choices over the years have done the most good where truly needed.
In May of 2016, members of the Caroline Aston Fund committee met to distribute to both local and overseas organizations including the Prudence Crandall Center, Holmes PTA Go Tri Committee and Global Ministries. In an excerpt from a thank you note from Global Ministries, Rev. Jane Sullivan-Davis wrote, “Global Ministries sincerely thanks you for your gifts. As indicated, your donation will be used to support the Armenian Missionary Association of America, the Youth Internet Café in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Tilda Evangelical Hospital in India, the Orthodox Initiative in Jordan, Melel Xojobal in Mexico and Dumaguete Kalauman Development Center Building Project in the Philippines. Gifts like yours are vital to Global Ministries as we all work together with international partners in God’s Global mission. We are very grateful!”. Contributions to local organizations included the Hungerford Nature Center, Literacy Volunteers, MOMS / Nurturing Families, the New Britain Plan to End Homelessness, the New Britain Public Library, Pathways Senderos, Prudence Crandall Center, Warm the Children and the YWCA Strive Program.