First Church practices charity (meeting basic needs) and justice (changing systems).
Actions shift as our world shifts. Some examples:
The Woodward House Education Program provides a home for young adults interested in a year of service in urban education. Interns serving in public schools are invited to delve deeper into the community in which they work by living in church housing rent-free. The congregation provides mentorship and opportunities for community engagement outside of their work placement. Residents are expected to be involved in the life of the congregation in a way that uses their particular passions (eco-justice program? racism book study? community garden? contemporary worship? The sky is the limit).
First Congregational Church Ministry for Racial Justice meets regularly to deepen understanding of racial injustices in our world and to take actions for long-term change. Activities have included:
- the distribution of “Black Lives Matter” signs to church members and friends,
- collection and distribution of children’s books celebrating various forms of diversity (racial, gender, sexual orientation, income, physical ability, etc.) to our East Hartford public schools
- guest speakers twice a month
- support of Black-Owned businesses
- attendance at vigils and protests
Jessie’s Community Garden and Food Bank (over 8,000 meals/year)
Green Team Environmental Justice Group – Achieved Level One of Green Church Awards June 2018!
Justice Study Programs (food justice, immigration, GLBT, Recycling, etc.)
Building Interfaith understanding through programs, visits, and partnerships.
Marches and Vigils in times of crisis.
Multiple collections for the Friendship Center soup kitchen, national disaster emergency support, Heifer International, the East Hartford shelter, Riverside Rehabilitation Center donations, etc.
Kiva micro-loans to over 36 new businesses
Human Needs Fund: rental or utility support for hundreds of East Hartford residents