On Sunday, May 20 – Pentecost – we will be receiving the Strengthen the Church special mission offering of the United Church of Christ. This offering builds the UCC’s future. It funds new congregations and renews existing ones. It supports programs for youth and young adults and nurtures current and future leaders. And it aids the God is Still Speaking Ministry to spread our message of inclusivity. Directed to local Conferences, Local Church Ministries and the Still-speaking Ministry, Strengthen the Church gifts help to create vibrant church communities of extravagant welcome.
A little love can go a long way. When our lives become unpredictable or chaotic, when we’re facing into a storm, when we’re weary and discouraged, fearful or confused… a little love can give the boost we need. Many of us find that love in our church. But there are many people still seeking and yearning for a little love, a little hope, and a reassuring word. They have not found a church that’s reaching out with an extravagant welcome, where they can hear the message of the unconditional love of our still speaking God. That’s where the Strengthen the Church special mission offering steps in. Each year, we receive a special offering that helps the church’s love to grow and thrive. Called Strengthen the Church, this offering funds new congregations and renews existing ones. It supports programs for youth and young adults and nurtures current and future leaders. And it sends the God is Still Speaking Ministry’s message of extravagant welcome and inclusivity into our world.
We will receive this offering on May 15 – the birthday of the church – Pentecost Sunday. I invite you to celebrate by giving to Strengthen the Church. Your generous gift today ensures a vibrant church tomorrow.
Spread the Love. Strengthen the Church. God is still speaking. Still-speaking: It's the shorter form of "God is still speaking," a campaign by the United Church of Christ to simply remind us that God still has a lot more to say. Since 2004, Still-speaking has worked with thousands of UCC churches and individuals across the country to make religion relevant again and to extend an extravagant welcome to all—because no matter who you are, or where you are on life's journey, you're welcome here. Here at the United Church of Christ.
Your gift to Strengthen the Church builds the UCC’s future now by fund- ing The Still-speaking Ministry, new and renewing churches, youth and young adult ministries, and lay and pastoral leadership formation— especially among women and people of color.
Your offerings are directed to your church’s Conference, Local Church Ministries, and The Still-speaking Ministry for these church development, leader development and Still-speaking purposes.
Common Place encourages a life style of love and concern for others that recognizes the dignity and self-worth inherent in each person while striving to eliminate the causes of poverty and other social injustices. Common Place is a social service agency on Peoria's South Side that helps people overcome poverty and injustice through education. At Common Place, educational programs start with our Youth Programs, grades K-12. Our Youth Programs offer academic assistance, life skills, and cultural enrichment to build self esteem and success in school. Common Place literacy programs help adults learn reading, writing, and math skills and acquire self-esteem and self-confidence needed to obtain employment.
Working primarily on the South Side of Peoria, COMMON PLACE
Since 1967, Common Place Family Learning Center has worked on the center south side of Peoria, Illi- nois, to eliminate the root causes of poverty, racism, and injustice through education.
The History of One Great Hour of Sharing
Fifty years ago, during World War II and immediately following, Protestant churches made appeals for relief and reconstruction. In 1946, Bishop Henry Knox Sherrill, newly—elected Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, set a goal of one million dollars per year for the Presiding Bishop's Fund for World Relief. On nationwide radio, he challenged members to raise “one million dollars in one hour.” His impassioned challenge worked.
During the first three years, Episcopalians raised $3.8 million. In 1950, the title “One Great Hour of Sharing” was used for the first time. A logo depicting a church steeple clock with hands fixed at eleven was also adopted. A series of six fifteen—minute radio programs was produced to promote the effort, but problems with radio stations brought disappointing results. The next year, the name of the offering was changed to “One Great Time of Sharing.” In 1952, the name was changed back to One Great Hour of Sharing, and has remained so ever since. By 1954, the announced goal for all giving to One Great Hour of Sharing reached eight million dollars.
From the beginning this has been an ecumenical effort. As denominations changed and merged, One Great Hour of Sharing has varied from eight to twenty—nine participating communions. Currently, the One Great Hour of Sharing committee officially comprises nine Christian denominations. In various ways, all work in cooperation with Church World Service, the relief, development and refugee assistance arm of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A .
The purpose of One Great Hour of Sharing has remained the same: to collect special gifts to assist those in need. Today, projects are under way in more than 100 countries, including the United States and Canada. In the 1990s, receipts have exceeded $20 million annually. While specific allocations differ in each denomination, all use their One Great Hour of Sharing funds to make possible disaster relief, refugee assistance, and development aid.
Neighborhood House Association, established in 1896, is dedicated to providing a Safe Haven with comprehensive services that meet the social, emotional and material needs of individuals and families from infancy to the elderly.
The common goal of all services is to enhance the quality of life and foster independence of those served. Neighborhood House was founded as a settlement house. It began with a church service in September of 1896. Poor immigrants could find refuge and receive many of life's necessities. A 1910 census report showed that 2/3 of the residents in the Eighth Ward (the South Side) were either foreign born or of foreign parentage. Fourteen different languages were spoken and immigrants had settled in this area to find their freedom and fortune. Neighborhood House will continue to provide the core comprehensive services that began in 1896. We will remain in constant communication with our citizens, service recipients, and community leaders.
We have the unique ability to continually assess the needs of the community and to promptly initiate specialized comprehensive programs to meet identified needs.
At Neighborhood House, we believe:
• That all lives are enriched by participation in a compassionate and supportive community
• That the enduring strength of our Neighborhood Community relies on cultivating a spirit of neighborliness and mutual respect among diverse populations
• That Neighborhood House should work to bring groups and individuals together as an inclusive community
• That families require lifelines of support and benefit from community services and programs responsive to their needs
• That children and their families from all socioeconomic backgrounds should have equal access to quality early childhood programs
• That children and teens should have a safe environment for their development in order to foster positive social Interactions
• That seniors, including the homebound elderly, need and deserve to be valued as individuals who are important to the fabric of community life
• That an effective settlement house must continually evolve and adapt to the ever changing needs of its community.
Blankets+ is a special mission opportunity for all ages. Some 8,000 congregations and groups across the U.S. hold CWS Blankets+ events, providing funds to help people in need around the world, including the U.S. For over 60 years, Church World Service has worked in partnership with local communities to identify their needs and access the resources they need to build the foundation for a more viable future, including:
Blankets+ gifts are at work in the U.S. and around the world, helping to meet emergency needs and supporting long- term recovery and preparedness.
The Christmas Fund provides a lifeline of hope to many lower-income active and retired clergy and lay employees in the United Church of Christ. Gifts to the Christmas Fund help provide pension and health premium supplementation to low-income retirees, emergency assistance to the families of clergy and lay employees and Christmas “Thank You” Gift checks to hundreds of annuitants.
The Mission of the Christmas Fund is to provide assistance dollars in situations of critical need, while reserving the dignity of those who receive the aid. You can honor the Christ Child during this season by bringing gifts that will be used to support and honor those who have served, and are serving, this beloved church. Your gifts will truly represent the incarnational nature of the church at its best.
For 110 years, the Christmas Fund for the Veterans of the Cross and the Emergency Fund has been a means by which we-as members of the United Church of Christ and its predecessor denominations- reflect the light of God in the world, individually and in community. The Christmas Fund, one of four Special Mission Offerings received annually in the United Church of Christ, is a beacon of light for many who have served, and who continue to serve, our church.
We are grateful for your partnership in this vital ministry, and ask that you consider supporting the Christmas Fund Offering again, prayerfully and to the best of your ability. Your gift to the Christmas Fund helps us to reach out in love and compassion to provide assistance to those in the greatest need, who selflessly have given of themselves for the sake of the Gospel.
On behalf of the 1,600 + clergy and lay individuals and families who received some form of Ministerial Assistance since the last Christmas Fund Offering, the members of the Pension Board express their deep gratitude to you for your generosity. May the light of Jesus Christ shine brightly in your life, now and always.
Friendship House is a faith-based organization reaching out to all those in need, regardless of faith. We strive to embody God’s love and to treat everyone who comes through our doors with caring, respect and dignity.
Their mission is to do the work of Jesus Christ, providing relief, respect and renewal to Peoria’s most vulnerable individuals and families. Through the simple gesture of a free meal, a clean shirt, a safe place to learn, Friendship House offers the hope of a new start to the least, the last, and the lost.
The Peoria Friendship House of Christian Service is funded by the Heart of Illinois United Way, churches, individuals, grants/foundations, community support, and fundraisers.
Neighbors in Need represents one of several ways the UCC expresses its financial commitment to justice and compassion throughout the U.S. Funds from NIN support the UCC’s justice advocacy programs and are also distributed to a wide array of congregations and non-profit organizations who work to support justice and who help neighbors in their communities, across the country and in Puerto Rico. One–third of the offering supports the council for American Indian Ministry, including the 20 American Indian congregations in the UCC. Two-thirds of the offering supports justice advocacy and direct service projects such as justice with peace programs and community grants.
Two-thirds of Neighbors in Need supports program initiatives and direct grants offered by the UCC's Justice and Witness Ministries. Small but essen- tial grants are made throughout the year to congregations and organizations engaged in community organizing, public policy advocacy, and direct service.
Although grants are made to address a wide range of justice priorities, a significant portion of these grants are made to address issues of hunger and poverty.
Through our generous gifts to Neighbors In Need, the United Church of Christ is offering hope to millions of people; we are transforming lives, the nation, and our world.
A world of communities living together in peace and equitably sharing the resources of a healthy planet.
Heifer’s mission is…
To work with communities to end hunger and poverty and to care for the Earth.
Heifer's strategy is…
To “Pass on the Gift.” As people share their animals’ offspring with others – along with their knowledge, resources, and skills – an expanding network of hope, dignity, and self-reliance is created that reaches around the globe.
This simple idea of giving families a source of food rather than short-term relief caught on and has continued for over 65 years. Today, millions of families in 128 countries have been given the gifts of self-reliance and hope.
Obeying God’s call to “let justice roll down like waters” (Amos 5:24), since 1944, Heifer International has helped millions of struggling families become more self-reliant by providing food-and income-producing animals and training in their care. Heifer joins with people of faith everywhere to work for the dignity and well-being of all people wherever they live. Heifer ministers to families in need by: Helping children, enabling women & families, caring for the environment, developing community and passing on the gift.
In partnership with congrega- tions, Heifer International is an ark of refuge for hungry families. Heifer puts faith into action with its time proven principle of Passing on the Gift. Every family who receives livestock ages to pass on one or more of it’s ani- mal’s offspring, or the equivalent, to another neighbor in need. Project partners pass on new ways of animal husbandry and land management, too-a rainbow of hope for the whole community.
Companions Journeying Together, Inc., provides a forum to personally impact the emotional, spiritual, and social lives of the incarcerated and their families. Our vision is for a society that lives by the principles of restorative justice.
For over 20 years Companions Journeying Together Inc. has lived out the mission of Jesus by valuing all people as members of the kingdom of God.
We seek out opportunities to reach incarcerated women and men through a variety of programs designed to build healthy relationships and foster positive communication. Those programs include Aunt Mary’s Storybook Project, Fathers Read, Family Stories, and Mother Love Parenting classes. Additional services we organize and either provide or facilitate include special holiday communication projects, provision of re-entry materials and referrals, community education/training, and advocacy. Our goal is to be a link between resources and needs. We have a history of working successfully with officials from the Department of Corrections, as well as with individuals, churches and community organizations committed to serving the imprisoned and their families.
The church focuses on a unique mission each month that serves different aspects of our society.