Open Hearts and Caring Hands

     First Parish Church Missions

An old popular UCC bumper sticker once proclaimed, "To believe is to care. To care is to do."  Or, as the book of James in the New Testament puts it, "Faith without works is dead."    If there's any single trait that First Parish Church members share in common, it's our commitment to building a better world through our advocacy, our service, our financial gifts,  our prayers, and our personal growth and understanding.   Our "witnessing" is not insisting that others


must believe exactly as we do do, rather our "witnessing" is taking our love and faith in Jesus Christ and working for justice for the marginalized and oppressed. Our page content reflects the diversity of directions that our open hearts and caring hands lead us to follow Christ. There are no formulas, no concrete steps, nor rigid guidelines that dictate to First Parish parishioners to whom, to what, or when we should give.


As a community of faith we understand that financial giving is part of our whorship, but we know that Christian giving can also transcend financial giving.  Thus, our church missions reflect the varied ways in which we reach out as individuals and as the Body of Christ.  The need is great in our community and in the world.   The UCC has recognized our church as a '5 for 5 Church' because we have demonstrated leadership not only in Basic Support for UCC's Wider Mission, but for also supporting four special mission offerings.


On Going Missions

Tithes & Offerings

Tithes and offerings are intended to be a joy and a blessing.  As we follow our faith we know that a church's human resources and infrastructure needs are no different than any other non-profit.  We know we need leaders who can offer spiritual guidance and management expertise.  Knowing this we believe every tithe or offering should be given with pure motives and an attitude of worship to God and service to the body of Christ.  We reflect within ourselves, searching our minds and hearts, and we pray.  From these many perspectives we offer our tithes and offerings, and, as it says in Corinthians, “Each person should give what he s/he has decided in her/his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

Pastor's Discretionary Fund

At the beginning of each month we celebrate communion at First Parish.  As part of that worship service we offer individual support to those within our parish and community who need help with fuel oil, food, clothing, and the like.  Our Senior Minister weighs each request with prayer and with the knowledge that he carries our church’s spirit of caring and love to each person in need. 

Caring Cards

Caring cards are filled out by parishioners each month and these are mailed to a recipient designated on the address side of the card.  This caring and loving feature allows you to let someone know that there is hope and love as they carry a burden or know that others are celebrating a milestone in their life.

Prayer Shawls

This FPC ministry consists of knitters and crocheters who follow their passion for their craft, creating garments that are blessed by prayer. These works of hope and love are given to the poor, sick and disadvantaged, and are used to celebrate joyous occasions such as weddings, graduations and baptism.

Johnson/Atkinson Fund Projects

The Johnson/Atkinson Fund is a gift to the church to inspire and support development of church ventures to faciiatate spiritual growth.  It is intended to serve as a catalyst for new energy and commitment to grow in the knowledge and love of God in Christ and radiate God's love in an ever-changing world.  We are thankful for the thoughtfulness of this gift from Bill and Mary Johnson who established this fund.  Recipients are chosen each year by the J/A Team.


 

Saco Food Pantry & Open Hand Open Heart

The Saco Food Pantry provides food for local Mainers in need through short-term and intermittent help to many people, or long-term help for those who continue to struggle. The pantry is run by a volunteer staff which includes a Board of Directors. It currently provides food for over 6,000 people a year or over 80,000 individual meals.  Days and Hours: Monday - Friday 9 to 11 a.m.  Call 207-468-1305

Open Hands Open Heart is an outreach program located adjacent to the Saco Food Pantry. Clients may pick up clothing there for infants and children up to age 11. Donations of clothing accepted in sizes for ages indicated previously. Call 286-9939 for information. Days and Hours: Monday - Friday 9am - 11am & Saturday 10am - 12 noon


 

Community Garden

The Saco Community Garden's Mission is to create a garden following organic practices, provide affordable garden plots for growing healthy food and flowers, support a community of gardeners and promote a green and sustainable Saco. 


How You Can Help: Steps to Making the Saco Community Garden Happen
  • Join the SCG to lend your ideas and volunteer your skills
  • Spread the word to potential gardeners and supporters
  • Help develop a website
  • Donate tools, soil amendments and other supplies
  • Volunteer to till, turn and weed to start the garden beds

Bon Appetit

Today, Bon Appetit has partnered with Second Congregational Church and serves meals in their fellowship hall 5 nights a week between 4:30 and 5:30pm to an average of 75 people ranging in age from infant to 93.  Bon Appetit receives food donations from the Good Shepherd Food Bank as well as local stores and restaurants. They also receive additional financial support from the United Way, the town of Biddeford, local businesses and banks, individuals as well as Second Congregational Church. They have a full time director, Debie Gagnon, and many volunteers each week that make their program possible.  Monday- Friday 4:30- 5:30 for anyone in need.  Second Congregational Church, 19 Crescent St  Biddeford, ME    283-0380


 

York County Shelter & Serenity House

York County Shelter is committed to ending homelessness and assisting people to reach their fullest potential by providing access to various levels of housing, personal growth opportunities and community resources. They embrace diversity and economic security for all.  York County Shelter Programs are open 24/7, call 207-324-1137 for assistance.


 

Worldwide and
E
cumenical Missions

Amigo Buckets

Founded in 2004, A.M.I.G.O.S. is a project of the United Church of Christ, York Association Missions Committee in partnership with A Friendly Hand and The Evangelical and Reformed Church of Honduras. This program provides school lunch to over 2000 children in impoverished areas of Honduras.  The food for the school lunches is transported to Honduras in 5 gallon plastic buckets as well as bulk packaging.  Buckets as well as a specific packing list are passed out to sponsoring families, individuals and groups recruited by churches in Maine and New Hampshire. 


Mother's Day Blankets

Blankets+ is a special mission opportunity for all ages.  Some 8,000 congregations and groups across the U.S. hold Church World Service Blankets+ events, providing funds to help people in need around the world, including the U.S.

UCC and Church World Projects

Since its formation in 1957, the United Church of Christ has worked with Church World Service (founded in 1946) to accompllish more together than it could alone, joining hearts and resources to create a tradition of help and a legacy of hope. When disaster strikes, Church World Service is the primary agency through which the UCC gives support for relief and recovery efforts. This assistance may take the form of winterized family tents for Pakistani earthquake survivors, food packages and tankers full of water for displaced people in violence-torn Darfur, Sudan, or long-term recovery assistance for families affected by hurricanes, tornados, or flooding across the U.S.


 

Martin Luther King Day of Service 

Each year first Parish Church opens its door on MLK's Day of Service to provide services for anyone in need.


Souper Bowl Sunday

A simple prayer: "Lord, even as we enjoy the Super Bowl football game, help us be mindful of those who are without a bowl of soup to eat" is inspiring a youth-led movement to help hungry and hurting people around the world.  This prayer, delivered by Brad Smith, then a seminary intern serving at Spring Valley Presbyterian Church in Columbia, SC, gave birth to an idea. Why not use Super Bowl weekend, a time when people come together for football and fun, to also unify the nation for a higher good: collecting dollars and canned food for the needy?

Using the energy of the Super Bowl to mobilize youth, this event is a united national effort to care for people in their local communities who are hungry and those in need.

The Souper Bowl of Caring agency believes:

  • The idea for Souper Bowl of Caring is a gift from God;
  • Young people have the ability to serve and should be given opportunities to lead their communities in helping others;
  • Every dollar collected through Souper Bowl of Caring should be donated directly to a charity selected by each participating group;
  • People of all backgrounds and beliefs can work together; and
  • Hunger and poverty have a negative impact on individuals and the communities in which they live, yet there is joy in serving and giving to those in need.

End Genocide Inspired by Tents for Darfur

Our church participated in this program to respond to the needy that were caught up in the 2003 rebellion.  The regime of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and its allied militia, known as the Janjaweed, launched a campaign of destruction against the civilian population of ethnic groups identified with the rebels. They wiped out entire villages, destroyed food and water supplies, stole livestock and systematically murdered, tortured and raped civilians. Tents for Dafur has merged with United to End Genocide, the largest activist organization in America dedicated to preventing and ending genocide and mass atrocities worldwide. UEG is made up of faith leaders, students, artists, investors and genocide survivors, and all those who believe we must fulfill the promise the world made following the Holocaust — "Never Again!"

 

 

 

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