On October 11, the Second Sunday offering will be dedicated to the UCC’s Neighbors in Need.
Neighbors in Need (NIN) is a special mission offering of the United Church of Christ that supports ministries of justice and compassion throughout the United States. On average, this vital offering annually collects around $1 million. One-third of NIN funds support the Council for American Indian Ministry (CAIM). Two-thirds of this 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.
Not only are NIN funds shared with CAIM, they are utilized by staff to develop curated and created social justice resources, i.e. webinars, bible studies, curriculums, advocacy tools, etc. within the program areas of environmental justice, racial justice, LGBTQ justice, economic justice, women’s justice, immigration justice, and more.
Additionally, a portion of the monies collected are used to fund NIN grants. Neighbors in Need grants are awarded to UCC churches and organizations doing justice work in their communities. These grants fund projects whose work ranges from direct service to community organizing and advocacy to address systemic injustice. This year, special consideration will be given to projects focusing on serving our immigrant neighbors and communities.
Please give generously. Following are some NIN stories:
Houston teens learn wage activism from working adults like them.
This summer, with a grant from the United Church of Christ’s Neighbors in Need offering, 24 high school students from an economically challenged Houston neighborhood learned about activism and carried out a local campaign for a $15 minimum-wage law.
The idea came from the basic insight that many Houston residents find it hard to make ends meet, especially workers in fast-food and other service industries. The Rev. Darnell Fennell serves some of those people in both his callings. He is pastor of Just Love Church, affiliated with the UCC and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). He also teaches high school social studies.
With a background in community organizing, Fennell knows people don’t have to sit still for economic injustice. He knows the wider UCC feels the same, as seen in statements such as a 2017 General Synod resolution, “A More Just Economy: $15 Minimum Wage, Living Wages and Job Creation.” So he sought the NIN grant to introduce young people to local activists in the national Fight for $15 wage campaign and involve them in learning by doing.
Hope Station Nogales to provide reverse sanctuary to deportees in Mexico.
A United Church of Christ sanctuary church offering immigrants refuge in the Arizona borderlands will soon be offering a place of hospitality, support, and hope on the Mexican side of the border for people who find themselves deported from the United States. The Shadow Rock UCC Sanctuary Action Team and the Rev. Ken Heintzelman, in an extension of the spirit and intent of their ministry of sanctuary in Phoenix, are in the process of establishing Hope Station Nogales, in Sonora, Mexico.
The thought is Hope Station, which was funded in part by a $10,000 grant from Neighbors in Need, can be a place of transition, a place where people who are deported but have family in the U.S. can find a meal, safe lodging and assistance.
A Tiny House aims to provide big solutions for South Carolina LGBTQ community.
When LGBTQ individuals near the campus of Clemson University, in the areas of upstate South Carolina unexpectedly find themselves without a home or a place to feel safe, Peace Congregational United Church of Christ will be ready to meet them.
Congregation members and the Clemson community are working side-by-side in the design and construction of a tiny house, a mobile residency for a person in the LGBTQ community who is no longer welcome at home. The $20,000 project is in progress with the help of a $10,000 Grasstop Grant from UCC Justice and Witness Ministries. The first occupant could be ready to find refuge there in January.