|Proclaiming "I have faith in Windsor, CT," at the National Youth Event.|
NYE participants fill in the blank for their communities.
Photos by Eric Anderson
For More Information
by Eric Anderson
CLEVELAND (08/28/2012) -- The United Church of Christ launched a new initiative for local ministry this summer, making the major announcement during the National Youth Event in West Lafayette, Indiana, after beginning the work itself in the denomination's headquarters city of Cleveland, Ohio. Called the "Faith, In Project," the program seeks both to promote local church engagement in their communities, and to raise the visibility of churches' love and care for their near neighbors.
"The 'Faith, In Cleveland' campaign is a marketing initiative, with T-shirts and buttons, downtown signage, local church banners, and more," said the Rev. J. Bennett Guess, UCC executive for Local Church Ministries, during the project's kick-off event in the city's downtown. "But more so, and more importantly so, it is a missional campaign, with each UCC member and church in our region being called upon to discover the ways that we can dig in and give back in order to see Cleveland thrive."
But Faith, In is not limited to Cleveland. National Youth Event attendees returned home with Faith, In _____________ T-shirts, whose blanks they completed with the names of the home towns they loved: "New York," "Parma," "Columbus," "U.S.A.," "Goshen," "Hartford," "Windsor," "Woodstock," "Storrs," and even "Silver Lake, CT." "People look around at the community they love," reads the project's Getting Started Guide, "and ask, 'What can we do?'"
In addition to twenty-five ideas to get you started, ranging from organizing a campaign and adopting a street to sharing food and using talents publicly, the initiative's website aims to create a supportive community for churches engaged in the work. Its social networking-inspired interface permits church members and leaders to connect easily with each other, and to see what other congregations are doing on behalf of their communities.
Response to the initiative in Cleveland has been very positive. Guess and the UCC's Associate General Minister W. Mark Clark received a warm welcome from WKYC's "Good Company" host Joe Cronauer when they appeared on the program, and Thomas Starinsky, associate director of the Historic Gateway Neighborhood Corporation, praised the UCC's strong commitment to its city. "We really appreciate the conviction and faith and vision [of the UCC] in the Gateway district."
What community do you have Faith, In? How can you show it? Might you...
Best of all: Be the Church Worth Joining.
|Silver Lake co-director Tim Hughes has faith in Silver Lake.|
Why should you join the Faith In project? The top ten reasons:
10. Your town/city/country needs you.
9. You need an address, and it's up to you to make the most of the one you have.
8. Putting down roots is good for the soul. Putting your beliefs into action will strengthen your faith.
7. God is waiting for you to do something about [fill in your most pressing issue] in your town.
6. There are no dues, you can wear whatever you want, and you don't have to go to any meetings. With Faith In, the saying is true: "It's all good."
5. Think your town is perfect? God knows it's not. No matter where you live, there are people you can help, places you can brighten, issues you can speak up about, or local organizations you can support.
4. Think your town is hopeless? God doesn't think so. Join Faith In to get your mind changed.
3. You've always wanted to make a difference. Faith In can help you figure out how.
2. You go to church. You're active locally. Now you can connect the two and even wear a shirt or put up a sign in your front yard saying so.
1. It's OK to leave your heart in San Francisco, or Decatur, or Seneca Falls. Just bring a little piece of it, along with your whole faith, and put it into the place God has led you to now.
The Rev. Eric S. Anderson is Minister of Communications and Technology for the Connecticut Conference UCC.