Here I am Send Me

Our Report for Mission – 2020

“God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8

2020 Mission Team: Janine Hensinger (Team Lead), Donna Field (through September 2020), Karen Griffith and Sue Roth. Ad hoc member – Pastor Judy.

2020 proved to be a hugely different and challenging year, one like none ever in the history of UCCG. After mid-March, we were struck with the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. We had to close our doors to in-person services and meetings; instead, we met online via Zoom. Although it was a “different and challenging” year, it presented us with new discoveries and creative ways of doing church, the birth of things we may never have otherwise discovered.

At the beginning of the year, before the pandemic began, the Mission team chose the Family Promise Day Center as our 2020 Mission focus, which means they receive 10% of proceeds from all fundraisers held throughout the year. Due to the sudden impact of the pandemic, by mid­ March, everything began getting cancelled. Therefore, we were never able to raise any funds.

One of the Mission Team’s responsibilities is to propose the benevolence breakdown to the Leadership Circle for each year’s budget. The following lists the breakdown for 2020:

  • 76% in support of Our Church’s Wider Mission (OCWM)
  • 4% to Ecumenical Food Bank
  • 4% to Lehigh County Conference of Churches
  • 3% to Bethany Children’s Home
  • 3% to Meals on Wheels
  • 3% to Phoebe Home (Phoebe Ministries)
  • 4% to Family Promise Greenawalds
  • 3% to Amigos de Guatemala

In one way, this year was not much different than other years. Our congregation continued to support benevolences through the time we had to cease having in-church services . The list of second offerings selected by the Mission team are listed below. Our practice has been to collect second offerings on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of the month.

  • January – Allentown Warming Center
  • February – Ecumenical Food Bank. UCCG has supported the Allentown Ecumenical Food Bank, a ministry of the Lehigh County Conference of Churches, for over 40 years
  • March – One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS)
  • April – Puerto Rico Disasters
  • May – Family Promise Day Center
  • June – Strengthen the Church
  • July & August – CWS (Church World Services) Emergency Cleanup Buckets & Hygiene Kits
  • September – Lancaster Seminary
  • October – Neighbors in Need
  • November – Ecumenical Food Bank (our annual Harvest Home collection)
  • December – UCC Christmas Fund

In January, Donna Field introduced a recycling program called “Recycle Beyond the Bag” offered by TREX. It sounded like a daunting goal to meet, but Donna was passionate about recycling and presented this project in part to get people to recognize the importance of recycling. TREX recycles your household bags and wrap into their earth-friendly composite decking and railing. By participating in the program, we signed up to collect 500 pounds of plastic (details provided by TREX) within a 6-month period. Participants that reach the goal are rewarded with a TREX bench. Once again, in UCCG fashion, we collected 500 pounds in 5 months! We received the bench and will dedicate it in Donna Field’s memory. A brass plaque will be affixed to the bench.

We hosted Family Promise in March; however, due to the quarantine caused by the pandemic, we were unable to host families beyond that time. Instead, we provided funds for housing and gift cards for the families.

Beginning in April, during the time of doing church virtually, we ceased requesting donations for second offerings but instead asked for the congregation’s support of local food pantries. The pandemic caused many businesses to slow or cease operations, which in turn caused a high rate of unemployment. As a result, there was a huge increase of families in need of food and personal items. We continued supporting “Our Little Free Pantry” as well as food banks and organizations in the community.

Midway through the year, Pastor Judy began offering “Drive-thru Communion .” In November, we set up a Harvest Home display in conjunction with the drive-thru communion and asked congregants to provide non-perishable items for the Ecumenical Food Bank. The donations were amazing! Sandy Lakatosh presented the congregation with a Reverse Advent Calendar whereby congregants purchased food items each day of Advent. There were numerous bags of food donated, which were delivered to the Ecumenical Food Bank after the New Year.

Family Promise and Bethany Children’s Home were selected as our 2020 Christmas projects. Once again, the congregation delivered, collecting over $500 for each organization! Early in December, Carolyn Spano, Director of Development at Bethany Children’s Home, provided a Mission Moment (during Zoom worship service) in which she explained to us what goes on at Bethany Children’s Home.

In the early part of the year, members of our congregation continued to serve/support the Soup Kitchen, Jubilee Breakfast ministries and Snack Packs at Parkland High School. Also, throughout the year, our congregation’s Fish Program members provided numerous meals for members in need. — Janine Hensinger

Family Promise of the Lehigh Valley

Family Promise Logo

Family Promise of Lehigh Valley is a non-profit 501(c)3 affiliate of the National Family Promise Organization, which assists homeless children and their families. The national organization is made up of individual affiliates, which are regionally-based to allow for collaboration with existing services within the community. On the local level, we are an ever-growing group of individual volunteers and staff looking to act out the mission through our time, our talents, and our service. God’s blessings be with you all and with the children and their families who benefit from this program!

The Morning Call has reported on the efforts of Family Promise…

Putting faith into action, Family Promise of the Lehigh Valley helps five homeless families get back on their feet (The Morning Call, October 2019)

Help for Lehigh Valley’s Homeless: Family Promise, Churches Ready to Open Their Doors (The Morning Call, October 2018)

God’s work, our hands – Mission Trips

Mission Trip to York Habitat for Humanity, October 2019

Although the group was only 5 in number, they became the “Mighty Five” and instantly formed a team. The expectation was to work on rebuilding 14 homes destroyed by fire, but when they arrived these houses were already framed to the second story, so our group was not expected to be on ladders. Their task was mudding, sanding and painting the inside of a rehab home with the assistance of Nate, the job foremen. The group was invited to attend dinner at a local Evangelical congregation, was warmly welcomed and able to meet some of the families that would be moving into Habitat homes. The rookie of the group was full of energy and fun, and another person stated, “I would go back there in a heartbeat.”

Puerto Rico Work Camp, April and May 2019

In April and May of 2019, a PNEC and PSEC Mission Trip/Work Camp team traveled to Puerto Rico to aid with the devastation of hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose and Maria in the 2017 hurricane season. UCC Greenawalds members Grant Field and Ben Gulledge participated in this important work.

Ben Gulledge and Grant Field
Ben Gulledge and Grant Field

Mission Trip to West Virginia, September 2017

In September 2017, a team of church members traveled to Webster Springs, West Virginia, to help those affected by the floods in 2016. In January 2016, a small group from PNEC (including members Grant and Donna Field) traveled to South Carolina to work at the Holy Apostles Orthodox Church, which was being renovated to accommodate volunteers involved in an ongoing rebuilding effort in the area.

Local Work

Our church is frequently involved with UCC Disaster Ministries and Church World Services ministries. In June 2018, our congregation’s donations to Church World Services Hygiene Kits & Cleanup Buckets allowed us to assemble 32 Hygiene Kits & 25 Cleanup Buckets!!  Boy Scout Dakota Longenbach helped organize, calculate, and shop for supplies as part of his Community Service for Boy Scout Troop 8.

We encourage all of our ministry teams, small groups, and individuals to choose a mission project of their own. If you have ideas for projects or if you know of a project that needs our help, please submit your ideas to the mission team, led by Janine Hensinger.

We invite you to help us in working for Christ within our wider community by supporting the following agencies with your gifts and time: Phoebe Home, Lehigh County Conference of Churches, Ecumenical Soup Kitchen, Meals on Wheels, Lehigh Valley Hospice, OCWM, Angel Tree Ministries, American Cancer Society, Family Promise, Kidspeace, and more.  Each week we also collect non-perishable food items for the ecumenical food bank.