by Rev. Kate Shaner
It is hard right now. Everything seems to take longer, we don’t have a sense of time anymore, our routines are gone and many of us can’t see or be near those whom our heart loves deeply. It is good to acknowledge the grief of this moment, to be able to name it and understand it’s OK. In the naming, let’s take care of ourselves and each other. If you or someone you know seems overly depressed, anxious, has had drastic changes in mood or behavior, say something. Ask how they are doing, if you feel you need help, call for it. Remind yourself, and those you love, all of us are worth time and attention. Let “You Matter” begin to be a mantra if need be. Kaitlin Curtice, Native theologian and author, just wrote a soul-filled article entitled “Holding Solidarity Amid Collective Grief” that I shared with Mission Council, and would like to share with you. It ends with Curtice asking, “what one thing can each of us hold onto that connects us to others, keeps us in solidarity with the world” while we take care of ourselves and each other? “What can remind you of your sacred belonging and the sacred belonging of others” so no one gets left behind when we get to the other side of this time. I wonder what the answers to those questions would be for you?
by Rev. Kate Shaner
Since late March, volunteers have answered the call for masks from health care workers to our older adults and families. Masks from First Community have been sent to California, Cincinnati, Findlay, as well as Central, Ohio, and are being worn by chaplains, home health nurses and many of our neighbors. Thank you to all who donated fabric and elastic, shared patterns, and continue to sew to keep us safe. You are all pearls of great price, indeed.
by Amy Caskie
Traditionally, the Easter Sunday offering is collected for a designated mission or missions chosen by our Mission Council. After evaluation of the needs of our partner missions, and the needs of our own church during this unusual period of time, this year was different! Instead of holding a special offering, all offerings collected online and in the Business Office on Easter Sunday went to the general Operating Fund of the church. This decision will enable the church to continue to supports the staff and maintain our multiple locations in this time of decreased giving.
For the past few years, the Easter offering was collected on behalf of Mission Council and split between Refugee Task Force and Rafiki missions. Our Refugee Task Force does all of their own fundraising outside of this special offering. Despite the decreased income, the Task Force continues to serve the refugee and immigrant community. (See article RTF Continues Efforts During COVID-19 Pandemic).
The Rafiki mission, on the other hand, has sent all their students home or to foster homes during the COVID-19 shutdown. The mission struggles to continue to pay their staff and teachers at this trying time. Rather than relying on proceeds from the special offering to cover some of that cost, Dr. Terry Davis will be applying for a special grant from Mission Council in order to meet this specific need.
At this time, we still plan to hold our Special Mission offering on Sunday, July 19 to benefit the Back Bay Mission. This mission in Biloxi, Mississippi has seen an increased need for support from their community in crisis. While our plans to hold the annual Shrimp Boil are uncertain, we know we can rely on our congregation to support this important mission we have partnered with for so many years.
To learn more about the Special Mission Offerings at First Community or to make an online donation, please visit the Missions Giving page.
Refugee Task Force Continues Efforts During COVID-19 Pandemic
by Mary Buzby
Salwa Ahmed of the Refugee Task Force helps us stay in touch with families we visited before sheltering in place. Speaking Arabic, Salwa can easily communicate with many of the families our members served in person. We are working with her to provide supplies and financial assistance to families who now face loss of jobs with very limited resources. Salwa drops off supplies at the doors of refugee families other task force members are not able to visit during this time. We continue to be in touch with area refugee communities of different nationalities, and we will not lose our focus on the millions of refugees in camps who remain desperate for our care.
COVID-19 Emergency Funding
By Amy Caskie
A grant has been awarded by the First Community Foundation to the Mission Council to support their effort to help area church staff (including our own) during this time. The grant was made in the amount of $10,000 to Mission Council, who will contribute an additional $5,000 to the fund to be distributed to these individuals in need.
The Council has been evaluating the needs of our local community for years and has been working diligently to establish a way to award emergency funding directly and quickly to those in need. This Foundation grant award comes at a time when the Council has received increased requests for support due to the health crisis.
The Council has established the following guidelines for applicants and awards:
- Monies to be used for members of First Community, staff members of First Community and staff members of faith communities in Franklin county who are experiencing financial crisis due to CoVid19.
- Funds to be used for rent, house payments, utilities, car payments, etc. with a focus on keeping people housed.
- Requests for assistance under $1500 will be approved by the Minister of Mission and Mission Council Chair. Requests of $1500 or more will require a 24-hour turnaround period for electronic vote by the Mission Council.
People in need of assistance should be directed to Rev. Kate Shaner, Minister of Mission to apply for these funds. If you would like to support this effort, please make a donation online or send your contribution to the Business office and indicate your donation is earmarked for the Mission Council Pandemic Emergency Fund.
St John’s UCC
by Kate Shaner
Mission Council and First Community provided lunch for The Largest Table, a homeless outreach program of St. John’s United Church of Christ. Mission Council made the decision to use Freedom Al A Carte to cater the lunch in order to support their great work and keep our siblings who live on the land as safe as possible. Volunteers wore masks and gloves and guests were asked to use social distancing. It was good to be six feet apart together.
Back Bay Mission Trip Update
By Amy Caskie
Although we had to cancel our first pre-trip meeting, we are still planning to travel to Biloxi, Mississippi this fall. The group will travel to the Mission October 4 through 10.
If you are interested in joining the trip and want to learn more please visit the webpage. Click the “First Meeting Presentation” link to review general trip information.
Our second meeting will be held virtually on Zoom. Please plan to join the meeting on July 30 at 6 pm. This will be the final meeting before registration closes. At this meeting we will share specifics for our work week and answer any lingering questions you may have prior to registration.
Registration for the trip opens Friday, May 8.