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Scott’s Column: A Just World for All

Rev. Dr. E. Scott Jones
July 26 2018

The vision statement of the United Church of Christ is “United in Christ’s love, a just world for all.”  We at First Central are in the midst of a season of effective outreach ministry to our neighbors as we live into this vision.  Five highlights:

1)  New Refugee Team

In 2016 we adopted a family of Karen refugees, an experience that has enriched the congregation while very effectively welcoming this family to the United States and giving them a solid start in their new life.  Recently Pat Lamberty announced the formation of a new refugee sponsorship team, as we will welcome a new family probably in September.  You can participate in a variety of ways, from being a regular member of the team to helping furnish the apartment.  There is no act more faithful to our religious tradition than the welcome and inclusion of the stranger.

2)  Love of Children

The UCC is in the midst of a two year mission initiative called “3 Great Loves.”  The second of these is the Love of Children.  This summer the churches of the Nebraska Conference of the United Church of Christ are participating together in a joint school supply drive as part of our Love of Children.  Every church will keep track of the items donated and when we add it all together, we will see the great impact our churches have had upon school children in the state.  Be sure to check out the information our school supply drive.

3)  Baked Goods

Speaking of measurable impact, did you know we have a team, led by Judy Bouma, which picks up excess baked goods from Panera on Sunday evenings and then delivers those to the Siena/Francis House?  This week Panera sent us a report for how much they donated to us in 2017 that we delivered to the homeless shelter.  Are you sitting down?  Our team delivered 13,730 baked goods.  Their total value, according to Panera, was $28,339.96!

4)  Share the Bounty

One of my favorite of our outreach activities every year is our Share the Bounty program.  Congregants bring surplus vegetables and fruits from their gardens and then during the fellowship time on Sundays other congregants take what they want and leave a little free will donation.  The money raised then supports our ongoing efforts to feed the hungry.  Plus, we also give out some of the fresh veggies to people who come to the church during the week seeking help.  This program promotes food security and sustainability while showing our love of neighbor.

5)  The Gospel & the Kingdom

I’m excited by our upcoming three part series with Trinity Episcopal Cathedral and Kountze Memorial Lutheran Church to explore the ways the gospel informs our real world engagement and witness.  As three large, historic, and traditional downtown congregations, the three of us share many opportunities and challenges. In the midst of our differences, we are stronger together in our dedication to serving the gospel.  We will meet three Thursdays in August, beginning August 2 at Trinity, share a meal and then through panels, presentations, tours, and facilitated conversations we will explore what we are doing and how we can collaborate together in the future for more effective ministry.

So, yes, we are in the midst of a season of outreach, as we live into the vision of making this a just world for all.