Social Justice

 

Members of First Church have a strong commitment to working for peace and justice in our community, through both direct action and charitable giving. In worship and conversation, we offer opportunities for spiritual reflection on the service, advocacy, and engagement we practice together and as individuals.

Service

Meals on Wheels  Our members volunteer to deliver meals for this organization, which ensures that people in our community receive the nutritious meals and the human connection they need to help them live independently.

Habitat for Humanity  We send teams of volunteers for day-long building projects.

Community Emergency Services  The church arranges opportunities for members to volunteer at this non-profit crisis relief and empowerment ministry in inner-city South Minneapolis.

Lexington Commons Meal  A group of members organizes a regular meal for residents at Lexington Commons, a Common Bond affordable housing site.

Marcy Open School Partnership  First Church members will be assisting with monthly Meals for Minds program during the 2012-13 school year ministering to the needs of students and their families.

Guatemala Service Learning Trip  We regularly sends a group of confirmation students and other volunteers to the San Lucas Toliman mission in Guatemala.

Advocacy

Joint Religious Legislative Coalition  First Church is a contributing member of the JRLC, an interfaith advocacy group focused on social justice in Minnesota. We participate in their annual Day on the Hill lobbying day at the Capitol, as well as other interfaith vigils and events.

Open and Affirming

Our Commitment    In 1987, First Church was the first congregation in Minnesota and the third in the country to vote to become Open & Affirming (ONA). This means that the congregation is welcoming of all people, including the LGBT community. The church continues to explore and live into the ONA resolution, in particular seeking to deepen our understanding of gender identity and transgender experiences.

Our Witness    First Church members regularly attend lobbying days, marches, and other events sponsored by OutFront Minnesota, an organization committed to leading Minnesota toward LGBT equality. We also have a presence, along with other UCC churches, at the Twin Cities Pride Festival and Parade.

Marriage Equality  In recent years, First Church voted on a marriage resolution which states that our clergy will not perform legal marriages until same-sex couples are given equal recognition under the law.  We do; however, perform religious ceremonies.

Campaign Against the (Anti-)Marriage Amendment First Church members and clergy are participating in a number of events organized around defeating the “Marriage Amendment” to the Minnesota State constitution in the Fall of 2012.

Just Peace  In addition to becoming an Open and Affirming church, in 1987 the church also voted to be a Just Peace church, publicly claiming an identity as a justice-doing, peace-seeking congregation. Read more about the United Church of Christ’s Just Peace movement here.

Anti-Racism Group As part of our commitment to justice, a group of First Church members gather regularly for conversation and to work on addressing issues of race and privilege within First Church and the wider community.

Our Church’s Wider Mission (OCWM)  As a congregation in the United Church of Christ, First Church supports OCWM, a world-wide ministry that changes lives through ecumenical and global partnerships, prophetic witness and systematic change, and resources for local church communities. Every year, we collect four special offerings that serve a range of ministries, including church revitalization, advocacy and education, direct service projects, and disaster relief at home and abroad.

Environmental Action Team (EAT)  EAT is a group for First Churchers interested in environmental advocacy and justice. Thanks to EAT, First Church serves as a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) drop-off site, sells Fair Trade (Peace) Coffee during coffee hour, and learns about environmental issues through “second-hour” education sessions after worship. They have also been known to coordinate wonderful community meals using local, organic produce.

Engagement

Minneapolis Area Interfaith Initiative  First Church is a core sponsor of this organization that unites individuals and faith communities in the Minneapolis area in learning about other religious traditions, increasing interfaith understanding and building personal relationships across faiths.

Interfaith Campus Coalition (ICC)  The Interfaith Campus Coalition, of which First Church is a member, is a body of religious professionals and student leaders at the University of Minnesota that integrates varieties of religious experience with campus life. We foster dialogue, understanding and respect among peoples of different faiths and traditions at the university.

“Second Hour” Education Series  First Church staff and members regularly organize and host special learning opportunities after Sunday worship. These sessions are led by members of the community or guest speakers. Past topics have included First Church’s history and architecture, the UCC-Philippines, affordable housing, food justice, gender identity, and winter field trips to breathe in the green at the Como Park Conservatory.

Restorative Justice  First Church hosts and participates in “community conferencing,” a face-to-face model in which offenders have the opportunity to meet and make amends with the victims of their crimes. Community members have a direct role in the justice process—a chance to tell the offender exactly how they feel and to have input in the deciding outcomes.


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