The Outreach Commission

OUTREACH AT GRACE CHURCH

The Outreach Commission
The Outreach Commission organizes the appeal and distribution of the Christmas and Easter offerings to projects that meet basic human needs, including food, clothing, and shelter and in which individual parishioners are already involved as support to their particular actions of Christian witness. The Commission also serves as the umbrella organization for other outreach projects that the parish supports, seeing to it that there are volunteers from the congregation for the Not Bread Alone soup kitchen, for the Emergency Cot Program in Northampton, and for an annual campaign to solicit donated food for the Amherst Survival Center. Grace Church is a covenant church with Habitat for Humanity and with Bread for the World. OMC sponsors the annual Oxfam Fast as well as films, lectures, and discussions of national and international conflicts and human needs. If you are interested in being a member of the Commission, please contact one of the clergy or Anne Scarff (549-0407).

Local Ministries
Grace parishioners often volunteer at or contribute to the following Pioneer Valley charities:

Year Round

Not Bread Alone 
Not Bread Alone is a soup kitchen located at First Congregational Church in Amherst, MA. It serves meals Wednesdays and on weekends.  Grace Church members volunteer on the second Saturday of every month.  For additional information, please contact

Autumn through Spring

Amherst Survival Center
Amherst Survival Center is a regional resource providing food, clothing and community through volunteer efforts.

Craig’s Doors
Craig’s Doors provides safe, caring shelter for people who are homeless, while working towards supportive housing and helping to build an improved quality of life for those who are without a home. Craig’s Doors is committed to helping people to find ways to become empowered to improve the quality of their lives through the creation of safe, respectful shelter and housing. Craig’s Place, their seasonal shelter, operates from November 1 through April 30.
Donna McCallum (donna.mccallum @gmail.com) is Grace’s current volunteer coordinator.

Interfaith Cot Shelter
The Hampshire County Interfaith Cot Shelter provides overnight shelter for adults during the coldest 6-months of the year. It opens on November 1st. The Interfaith Shelter operates in partnership with the City of Northampton and Friends of the Hampshire County Homeless.
We at Grace prepare a meal for the Shelter in Northampton (43 Center Street), once a month, November through April, for the 20 guests and five volunteers. There are several ways you can volunteer: You could make a part of a meal, such as a salad, a main dish, or a dessert to be taken in by another volunteer who would serve at the Shelter during the dinner time, about 5:45 to 7:30, or you could be a server at the shelter during that time, or you could do both as many do. We hope to gather a different team for each of the six monthly dates, sharing the joy of service as broadly as possible. Please consider joining one of the teams. The dates for us this year are as follows: November 12; December 10; January 14; February 11; March 11; and April 8. For more information or to join a team, talk to Bob Hawley or Mary McCarthy (253-3582), or Brendan Sullivan (256-4667).

Summer

Amherst Leisure Services Day Camp Snack Program
Hard as it is to believe, there are children in Amherst who have less food than their growing bodies require. Beginning in June and running through August, Grace Church provides morning and afternoon snacks and water to children attending the Amherst Leisure Services day camps. Members of Grace contribute food, pack snack bags, or provide funds to purchase those snacks. Checks are made out to Grace Church, and earmarked for the Rector’s Discretionary Fund.

The Outreach Commission
The Outreach Commission organizes the appeal and distribution of the Christmas and Easter offerings to projects that meet basic human needs, including food, clothing, and shelter and in which individual parishioners are already involved as support to their particular actions of Christian witness. The Commission also serves as the umbrella organization for other outreach projects that the parish supports, seeing to it that there are volunteers from the congregation for the Not Bread Alone soup kitchen, for the Emergency Cot Program in Northampton, and for an annual campaign to solicit donated food for the Amherst Survival Center. Grace Church is a covenant church with Habitat for Humanity and with Bread for the World. OMC sponsors the annual Oxfam Fast as well as films, lectures, and discussions of national and international conflicts and human needs. If you are interested in being a member of the Commission, please contact one of the clergy or Anne Scarff (549-0407).

Global Ministries (furthering the United Nations Millenium Development Goals):
St. Matthieu, Haiti  www.graceinhaiti.org

To honor Grace Church’s support of the Millennium Development Goals, the vestry is raising money and awareness for the children of St. Matthieu, Haiti whose school and schooling are foundering.

Episcopal Relief and Development 

Working in partnership with the worldwide Church, ecumenical agencies and local organizations, Episcopal Relief & Development saves lives and strengthens communities around the world.

Diocesan Liberian Task Force

For five years, our Diocese has been praying and seeking to serve the people of Liberia who have suffered so much through 18 years of civil war.

About The Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s)

A note from General Convention
MDGs? What are those? I wondered this often enough over the last year or two whenever the term was dropped into conversation. At General Convention last month the Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation (EGR) space in the Exhibition Hall was one aisle over from the reconciliation booth, where I spent my time. Every booth advertising a cause, a process, or goods for sale gave away free stuff to lure people a little closer, perhaps even to chat. Our booth gave out pins, prayer cards, and fliers. EGR had the best peanuts in the hall, and so that was where I stopped by several times a day when life was slow in reconciliation. I am very thankful for the peanuts, because if I scooped up the peanuts, I felt I had to hang around and find out more about the EGR and, in particular, the MDGs, which was one of their main educational efforts.

MDGs is the acronym for a summons to the world from the UN to help defeat deep world poverty and its effects. Every day at Convention, representatives from the EGR handed out cards to passers-by on the way to the daily Eucharist. The first card listed the eight goals:

  • Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  • Achieve universal primary education
  • Promote gender equality and empower women
  • Reduce child mortality
  • Improve maternal health
  • Combat HIV and AIDS, malaria and other diseases
  • Ensure environmental sustainability, and
  • Create a global partnership for development with a focus on debt, aid, and trade

Each subsequent day the card focused on one of the goals, and indicated what one person could do, what one parish could do, and what one diocese could do. One of the mantras of this campaign is “0.7%”, which calls for each diocese, each parish, and each individual to give 0.7% of their income to achieve these goals by 2015. Our diocese has made this commitment, as have Grace Church and some parish members. The General Convention made it a major outreach priority for the Episcopal Church. Over the next weeks and months Grace Church will be offering information and occasions to hear speakers so that the MDGs will become more meaningful to us than just another acronym; perhaps there will also be opportunities for mission-focused trips. The campaign has many features that make it particularly appealing; one of these is the hope that frames this whole endeavor “to make poverty history.” For more information, see http://www.e4gr.org.

Fourth Sunday Offerings, Christmas and Easter Collections

Grace Church has a tradition of donating collections gathered on Christmas, Easter and the fourth Sunday of each month to worthy causes suggested by the community.  Grace members may apply for funding for the non-profit, social outreach organizations (local, national, international) that they are involved with or that they advocate for. The applications should be to (1) meet human needs, especially for food, clothing and shelter (2) value the spiritual needs of those they serve for respect, dignity, and freedom (3) represent balanced and diversified ways of meeting local, national, and global priorities (4) are espoused by our parishioners and, if possible, directly involve parish members in their work and (5) keep us informed of their work and provide us with basic financial information to insure accountability.

Rector’s Discretionary Fund

The Rector’s Discretionary Fund is a pool of money generously donated by members of Grace Church, earmarked for emergencies, special circumstances, and individuals in acute need. In recent years, it has enabled us to provide support for victims of earthquakes and hurricanes, assistance with medical bills of poor parishioners, and help with other needs of the community. While the needs of the world can seem overwhelming, and we seldom have as much in the fund as we would wish, we do our best to send money where it might do the most good.