Sunday, October 1
Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32
I don’t chew gum.
One reason I don’t is that I might want to walk, and I’m not sure I could do both at the same time.
I know you know that there is a great need for disaster relief right now, in dollars and materials and volunteer hours. You couldn’t miss the news of the hurricanes with their flooding and shredding, and the soggy, ruined aftermath. And in your heart and conscience, as one of God’s faithful people, you want to do something to help.
As I shared before in this space, you DID help already, back in March, through our annual freewill offering for One Great Hour of Sharing. We as a church sent in $360, part of which went to disaster relief ministries.
In case you are interested in giving more to help through United Church of Christ Disaster Relief ministries, you can do that at any time, online at http://www.ucc.org/disaster
You can also make donations through Bethel’s offering plate, if you use an envelope or mark your check specifically for disaster relief.
A more hands-on response to hurricane and flood relief is to assemble a flood cleanup bucket. These buckets contain a specific set of items that are a big help for people who are trying to muck out their homes after a storm or flood. Each bucket with its contents is valued at $60. One of our church members, Vivian Michael, along with her co-workers at Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative, assembled nine of these buckets already, and they are on their way to disaster zones— also, boxes full of “personal hygiene kits,”
This past week, I learned that UCC Disaster Ministries is offering grants of matching funds. This ministry will fund participating and qualifying congregations up to $250 per congregation on a first-come, first-served basis to the first 200 congregations that raise $250 in cash and in-kind gifts for kits (buckets). If you are interested in putting together buckets or donating money or items for them, please contact me or a member of our Church Council.
But disaster relief is not the only important need we can address. Disasters come and disasters go, but we always have neighbors in need.
This coming Sunday, we will begin to receive our annual freewill offering for Neighbors in Need. This special offering in the United Church of Christ is divided, with one-third going for the Council for American Indian Ministries and two-thirds going to support Justice and Witness Ministries of the UCC. The theme for Neighbors in Need this year is “Protect the Sacred: In a Just World, Clean Water Is Life.” You can imagine, Justice & Witness Ministries will be advocating to keep water supplies pure and available to all.
Justice & Witness Ministries’ funds go to many different programs. Here is one example:
Taking a stand against poverty and injustice, the San Francisco Night Ministry (SFNM) strives to be living crucibles of Christ’s care, compassion, and concern for those who find themselves on the streets, or in bars or coffee shops, alone, afraid, and hopeless. As a Neighbors in Need 2010 grant recipient, the SFNM mission states that they will provide middle-of-the-night compassionate non-judgmental pastoral care, counseling, referral and crisis intervention to anyone in any kind of distress every night of the year. The San Francisco Night Ministry staff endeavor to witness and example the teachings of Christ Jesus. http://sfnightministry.org/
Let the same mind be in you
that was in Christ Jesus.... -Philippians 1:5