Mission1: How the UCC Plans to Tackle Global Hunger by 11.11.11
These days there is a buzz throughout the United Church of Christ and it has to do with a program called Mission1. There has been growing excitement about the launch of this new coordinated effort to address the needs of hungry people in the United States and abroad. From 11.1.11 (Nov. 1, 2011) to 11.11.11 (Nov. 11, 2011), we are working together as one United Church of Christ to collect more than 1 million food items for local food banks; raise $111,111 in online donations for Neighbors in Need and $111,111 for East Africa famine relief; and write 11,111 letters to Congress.
Mission 1 is an opportunity for us to live an answer to Jesus’ prayer “that they all may be one.” All settings of the United Church of Christ –– local churches, conferences, associations, and various national settings, as well as UCC-related colleges, seminaries and social service agencies –– have been invited to participate in what is a unified endeavor within a designated time frame.
This missional effort is grounded in one of our core values. That value is changing lives. We believe that our engagement in Mission1 will change the lives of those who are served with direct food aid, program grants, and improvements in governmental policy regarding foreign aid. We also hold that we will be changed in the process -- as our awareness of the issue of poverty-related hunger increases and our resolve to advocate for change in government policy grows ever stronger.
By setting measurable goals and establishing an accessible means for everyone to monitor those goals, we are challenging ourselves to do more and to do better. Local churches and other organizations participating in Mission1 can go to our website, ucc.org, and report their food and letter contributions and make online gifts to Mission1. Each day during Mission1, we are able to measure our progress toward achieving our goals.
Because we are well aware that hunger is a reality that far exceeds the giving capacity of all churches and nonprofit relief agencies, Mission1 is also about public policy advocacy. Changes in government food policy are essential if we are to see meaningful and sustained change in basic nutrition, which of course is an essential aspect of human life.
Of course, historically, advocacy has been a component to our approach to this issue. Public policy advocacy is integral to addressing the needs of hungry people at home and abroad, who are children of God and our sisters and brothers. Our Justice and Witness Ministries and our Wider Church Ministries staff and volunteer advocates have set the stage for Mission1 over the years. Now, with Mission1, we expect to expand that understanding by getting more people and new people involved in writing letters to elected officials.
A special aspect of Mission1 is that we are not alone in this effort, especially as we engage in public policy advocacy. For years we have partnered with Bread for the World in this work and again with the letter-writing component of Mission1, we join with Bread for the World and its 2011 Offering of Letters campaign. We believe that our partnership with Bread for the World enhances what we are able to accomplish with Misssion1. We are thankful for this partnership and we celebrate all that this partnership will accomplish in serving the very real needs of real people.
Rev. Geoffrey A. Black is general minister and president of the United Church of Christ.
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