34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
The members of Central St. Matthew take our mission to help others seriously. We seek ways in which we can help those in need in our neighborhood, our city, our country and the world. Below are some of the mission activities in which we take part. Our congregation knows that when we care for people we can be transformed by experiencing the presence of God. Come along with us, all are welcome. After all, the more hands we have, the more we can do.
THIRD SUNDAY COLLECTION FOR BELLE REVE
On the third Sunday of every month we take a collection for the residents of Belle Reve. Opening its doors in 1993, the mission of Belle Reve New Orleans is to provide permanent and transitional housing along with full support services to adults and families living with AIDS or HIV-related infections. We are pleased to be able to help this facility in any way we can. Our third Sunday collections range from canned and dried food items to personal hygiene products. Several of the recovery groups that have been housed at Central St. Matthew have also volunteered their time on the grounds and building of the center.
SECOND HARVEST FOOD COLLECTIONS
Our Social Action and Mission Committee is working on ways we can contribute to the New Orleans area food bank, Second Harvest. Please “stay tuned” to news about this effort in our newsletter and weekly announcements.
Central St. Matthew has been hosting recovery groups since December 31, 2005. We are partnered with the UCC Disaster Recovery Office which is located at Little Farms UCC, 135 Suave Road, River Edge, LA. We anticipate hosting groups at our facitlity through 2010. We have two bunk rooms which together can house over 20 volunteers and shower facilities for men and woman along with access to a full kitchen and dining room. Groups that stay with us are treated to a red beans and rice dinner, usually on the Wednesday of their weekly stay, which is provided by volunteers in the congregation and they also get a wonderful cultural presentation by our own Mr. Al Creel. For more information about our recovery effort go to the Recovery section of this web site which is located under our Programs tab at the top of this page.
HUME CHILD CHILD DEVELOPMENT CENTER
Central Congregational UCC has sponsored Hume since its beginning; however, a non-denominational Board of Directors drawn from the community governs the Center’s operations. The Center was incorporated in 1975 as an independent agency and offers programs for students from 15 months to 5 years of age. During the 1960′s, Hume’s services were expanded to incorporate after school programs for students aged 6 to 12. The Center was flooded during Katrina and received heavy damage from mold. It had to be gutted and completely redone with new wiring, air conditioning and fixtures. Volunteers contributed much of the initial work and Central hired a contractor to complete the task. While in good shape physically (though not complete), mostly due to the monies expended on the building repair by the Church and the kindness of volunteers too numerous to mention from all over the country, Hume is in desperate need of operating funds to allow it to compensate staff, pay utilities and other expenses, as well as to complete final minor repairs to the Center which were left undone by our contractor.
To effectively continue our mission, we will find it necessary to rely increasingly on ourselves, our alumni, friends and supporters to allow Hume Center to continue its vital work. We firmly believe that Hume Center is an entity worth saving.
BACK BAY MISSION
Back Bay Mission was founded in 1922 as an outreach effort of the First Evangelical Church of Biloxi (later United Church of Christ), whose members responded with compassion and service to the needs of poor “fisher folk” living in deplorable conditions along the Back Bay of Biloxi, Mississippi. Since then, Back Bay Mission has continually grown its services and ministries, always keeping the impoverished and marginalized at the center of its concern. Although there were no longer any UCC congregations in Biloxi or in the state of Mississippi by the early 1970s, Back Bay Mission remained to offer a witness of the United Church of Christ. Its commitment is to be faithfully responsive to the emerging and critical needs of God’s people, ever seeking a day of greater justice and peace. Back Bay Mission has been close to the hearts of our Central and St. Matthew congregations for years. This year St. Matthew contributed $600.00 from our budget and St. Matthew/Central donated $751.00 from the art auction. Many more monies have been given directly to the Mission from individuals in both congregations.
UPTOWN SHEPHERD CENTER
The Uptown Shepherd Center holds a special place in the hearts of many at Central St. Matthew. Our own Sylvia Warren is the director of this active center for seniors. John Warren drives the van which takes them on field trips and shopping, Ellen Bentz plays the piano and leads singing with the seniors, and Janice Markland works in many different capacities. Every year the we have also monetarily contributed to the center.
This acronym stands for Sales Exchange for Refugee Rehabilitation and Vocation. Every year during Advent we display for sale products from SERRV. We are pleased to be helping people in developing regions of the world by marketing their products. Please note the following information on this organization.
SERRV: · SERRV International was one of the first alternative trade organizations in the world and was a founding member of the International Fair Trade Association
· They offer artisan and farmer partners up to 50% advance payment on orders. This helps them to purchase raw materials and have a more regular income so they can avoid high interest rates from borrowing locally.
CENTRAL ST. MATTHEW FIVE FOR FIVE
Being a “5 for 5″ Church in the United Church of Christ means that our congregation fully supports Our Church’s Wider Mission. We provide Basic Support and give to all four Special Mission Offerings.
UCC Basic Support: Provides funding from congregations for Conferences and the national ministries of Wider Church Ministries, Local Church Ministries, Justice and Witness Ministries, General Ministries and the Pension Boards.
UCC Special Mission Offerings: Part of Our Church’s Wider Mission (OCWM), these four offerings sponsor vital ministries that bring hope to people around the world. The Christmas Fund helps provide pension and health premium supplementation to low-income retired church workers, emergency assistance to clergy families in need and Christmas checks to hundreds of annuitants. This fund is administered by the Pension Boards. One Great Hour of Sharing channels resources for international programs in health, education and agricultural development, emergency relief, refugee ministries, and both international and domestic disaster response. Strengthen the Church supports leadership for new and revitalizing congregations, programs for youth and young adults, and leadership development for the whole church. Neighbors in Need supports ministries of justice and compassion throughout the United States and Puerto Rico, including the Council for American Indian Ministries (CAIM), justice and advocacy, and direct service projects supported by Justice and Witness Ministries.