Mission Team

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The Mission Team is a chartered committee whose primary responsibilities include supporting 10 Core Mission Partners, managing the Monthly Mission Partner collections, and stewarding the money in the Mission Team Impact Fund. The purpose of the mission team is not just to provide financial support, but also to educate the congregation and help to connect congregants with the work of our Mission Partners.

For the month of September,

our Mission Team is supporting Family Services of the Merrimack Valley’s Safe Place Support Groups and Survivor Support programs for those who have lost a loved one to suicide.

Family Services is the oldest social services organization in Greater Lawrence and has been serving children and families since 1854. It has a menu of 20+ programs in the areas of youth development, parent education and mental health. Of note, Family Services operates the Samaritans suicide prevention program and is the regional provider of the National 988 suicide and crisis lifeline. Within those programs and its Counseling Center, Family Services is on the forefront of responding to one of the most significant consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is the mental health crisis that has gripped our country and our community. Through these programs, Family Services is providing compassionate support for individuals suffering from isolation, depression and other mental health challenges and is supporting people who have been affected by the suicide of a loved-one.

The Samaritans of Merrimack Valley has been addressing the problem of suicide since 1980. It first came into existence in Andover, MA, when three teachers dedicated themselves to ‘befriend’ lonely, depressed teens contemplating suicide or self-harm to prevent an increase in the rate of suicide. Today, the Samaritans of Merrimack Valley, under the aegis of Family Services of the Merrimack Valley, remains dedicated to reducing the incidence of self-harm and suicide, and serves over 2,000 individuals affected by suicide across the state, the majority of whom reside in the city of Lawrence.

On the fifth Sunday of the month,

our offering is dedicated to South Church’s Pastor Samaritan Fund. This resource allows our friends and neighbors in the congregation to anonymously receive help, maintain their needs, and be supported by the congregation.

The vast majority of people in our nation are one $400 emergency expense away from real financial hardship. We know that life can change on a dime for any of us, at any moment – none of us are immune to the highs and lows of life. This is a chance for us to reach out and help those who sit in the pews next to us, who we see in the online chat, and who we might never know are in need of a helping hand.

Spiritually, giving to the Samaritan Fund is an exercise in helping someone, without ever knowing who they were or how you helped them. It is a chance to look at our neighbors in church and know that your love and blessing shared through the offering time is making a real-time impact in the life of someone we worship with each week.

There are 10 Core Mission Partners who receive annual support from South Church in the form of quarterly disbursements. Each Core Mission Partner has an assigned mission team representative, with whom they communicate joys and concerns. They are asked to complete an annual Financial Support Request form where they share the highlights of their year and any specific financial needs they have.

ABC-Andover A Better Chance
ABC is organization in Andover who, since 1967, has been closing the education gap for students of color in American society. Their mission is to reduce inequity in education by providing young Black, Indigenous and People of Color academic and leadership opportunities. Partner since 1981

Bread and Roses
Bread and Roses is a community wellness program focusing on providing meals served with dignity to those fighting hunger and hardship in Lawrence. They remove all barriers to the health and wellness of the most vulnerable including seniors, veterans and those struggling with unemployment, addiction and mental illness. Partner since 1980

Communities Together
Formerly known as the Greater Lawrence Council of Churches, Communities Together is a collaborative of Catholic and Protestant churches in the communities of Andover, Lawrence, Methuen and North Andover. They run Manos Felices! an afterschool and summer program for children living in Hancock Courts and Stadium Courts housing developments in Lawrence, a summer vacation bible school and collaborate with many social service agencies in the Greater Merrimack Valley to address the needs of children in Lawrence. Partner since 2002

The Giving Garden
Located in North Andover on the grounds of the Rolling Ridge retreat center, the Giving Garden was created by South Church in 2015 in response to increasing levels of food insecurity and a lack of fresh, healthy, culturally appropriate vegetables available in local food pantries. The mission of the Giving Garden is to address local food insecurity by bringing together diverse communities of volunteers and guiding them in sustainable, organic farming practices. Partner since 2017

Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity of Essex County is a nonprofit organization that helps families build and improve places to call home. They believe affordable housing plays a critical role in sustainable communities. In addition to financial support, South Church sold a parcel of land at the back of our cemetery for the building of 2 Habitat duplexes—2 units in each. South Church commits to sending volunteers at least once monthly in order to help families have safe and secure housing. Partner since 1990

Lazarus House
Lazarus House is a Christian organization in Lawrence that believes every person they encounter should be treated with dignity and respect when they participate in the many programs offered including their soup kitchen, food pantry, emergency shelter and transitional housing programs. Partner since 1984

Neighbors in Need
Started in 1983, NIN runs 10 neighborhood food pantries in Lawrence, Andover, and Methuen that address food insecurity by providing nutritious food and local produce. Since their founding, they have supplied 12 million pounds of food to the poor and hungry in Greater Lawrence. Partner since 1981

Honduras Hope
Honduras Hope is a non profit organization that empowers economically and politically marginalized people in rural Honduras by focusing on education, health, infrastructure development and economic sustainability. Partner since 2013

Only a Child
Only a Child is a nonprofit organization that works with disadvantaged youth in Guatemala hoping to break the cycle of chronic economic need by addressing critical social concerns like hunger, malnutrition and disease, delinquency and violent crime, and hopelessness and despair. They work primarily in Guatemala City with male youth who are particularly susceptible to seemingly unavoidable gang life. Partner since 2005

Ti Palmiste
Ti Palmiste is a Christian organization in La Gonave, Haiti whose mission is to join with and empower Haitians in their efforts to become healthy, educated and self sufficient members of their communities. They run a transition housing program that provides wrap around services for those children aging out of the orphan care system. Partner since 2020

In 2019, our church decided to think about giving in a new way. Rather than collecting a morning offering each week to benefit the programs of the church, we began choosing a Monthly Mission Partner. Each week, we dedicate our morning offering to the Monthly Mission Partner, learn a bit about their good work, and hold our Partner in prayer.

The Mission Team is responsible for finding organizations whose missions align with the vision and values of South Church. The team looks for organizations that address timely justice issues such as: food insecurity, homelessness, empowerment, education, the environment, the LGBTQ+ community, immigration, natural disasters, and mental health concerns. The organizations are also selected to represent a diversity of program size and geographic area.

Besides raising money to support our Monthly Mission Partner, our offering also serves to educate the congregation on the many different organizations doing good work in our world, encourage folks to get involved, and make space to hold our partners in prayer.

In addition to many others, South Church has supported The Bike Connector in Lowell, an organization designed to keep old bikes out of the landfill and provide immigrants with transportation, Abby’s House, an affordable housing and advocacy organization for women in Worcester, and World Central Kitchen, one of the first organizations to provide hot meals after the Russians invaded Ukraine.

June: Greater Boston PFLAG
May: Food Link
April: International Red Cross and Red Crescent (Turkey/Syria earthquake relief)
March: Project Home Again
February: Voices of Hope
January: Abby’s House

2022 All Hearts and Hands, UCC Hurricane Relief, The Bike Connector, National Alliance on Mental Illness of Massachusetts, SNAP Market Match, Pastor Samaritan Fund, One Tree Planted, Communities Together, The Giving Garden, World Central Kitchen, UCC Disaster Relief & Church World Service Emergency Buckets, A Better Chance Andover

In 2022, you gave away over $50,000 to our mission partners through our Sunday offering alone! Thank you!

The Mission Team manages a small fund which allows them to immediately address emergency situations that arise throughout the year. The causes vary in their size and severity, but each reflects our understanding of our Christian call to be responsive and support the oppressed in our world.

Past recipients include: the LGBT Asylum Seekers House in Worcester, after their roof was destroyed by a fallen tree, and
Doctors without Borders, after the massive earthquake in Turkey and Syria.

Do you want to suggest a monthly mission partner? Click the button and complete the form to help our missions team determine the organizations that South Church can support!

The Mission Team is an extension of the Community Service ministry. For more information, email our the co-leaders of that ministry at: Communityservice at southchurch.com