Participating in the Community
Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say,“Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”– but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.
At BUCC, we believe that the heart of Christianity is about loving others and doing good in the world.
As ways of sharing our gifts with each other, our neighbors and the world, we participate in the following community service and outreach projects:
Manna Food Center – January
For one week each year, BUCC is provides all the meals and kitchen supplies for the 35 homeless residents at the Interfaith Works Women’s Assessment Shelter. We make and bag lunches and we prepare and serve dinner every evening. This is a large endeavor involving dozens of BUCC members.
The Shelter is a ministry of Interfaith Works, a nonprofit agency and non-sectarian interfaith coalition of more than 165 affiliated congregations of diverse faiths. The coalition works to meet the needs of the poor and homeless in Montgomery County to help them become self-sufficient. This Shelter provides transitional housing in a shelter environment for single adult women already committed to changing their lives with the support of mental health, medical, and therapeutic programs.
The Shelter could not operate without the involvement of the many congregations and community groups who provide all of the meals every day.
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.
Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’
Bethesda House Men’s Shelter – Monthly
Once a month, BUCC members provide dinner for the 17 residents of Bethesda House, a transitional housing program that serves adult men who struggle with chronic mental illness. The program focuses on finding permanent housing, securing an income and managing mental health, addiction, legal or health issues.
Rebuilding Together – April
On one Saturday each spring, BUCC partners with other congregations to do gardening, painting, and general home repairs to make homes safer and healthier, more energy efficient, and more accessible for low-income, elderly, disabled, and otherwise disadvantaged home owners.
Rebuilding Together (originally called “Christmas in April”) is a national US non-profit organization working to preserve affordable homeownership and revitalize neighborhoods by providing free home repairs and modifications.
Habitat for Humanity Garrett County Maryland
BUCC members can support Habitat for Humanity in a number of ways: attending a fundraiser dinner each spring, contributing goods and time as we join other congregations in having a huge yard sale, joining the Habitat work groups each summer, purchasing Christmas wreaths made by the Habitat homeowners.
All of the proceeds of the sales and dinner directly benefit Habitat for Humanity in Garrett County Maryland which is one of the poorest counties in Maryland.
Send A Kid to Camp – June
BUCC members donate money to send underprivileged children to summer camps.
School Supply Drive – August
BUCC collects and donates new school supplies and backpacks for elementary age students in the Montgomery County Public Schools each summer to help children from low income families start school with the tools they need for learning. Everything is distributed to children by Linkages to Learning, which has social workers in targeted elementary schools in the county.
Thanksgiving Food – November
BUCC members donate grocery store gift cards to provide a Thanksgiving dinner for many low income families served by Linkages to Learning at Viers Mill Elementary School.
Mitten Tree – December
Every December the BUCC Christmas tree is decorated with gloves, hats, scarves, and other warm apparel for elementary school aged children.
These are delivered to our Linkages to Learning partner school, Viers Mill Elementary School.
Christmas Toys – December
Toys and presents are collected for the National Center for Children and Families.
In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’
There is a bin in the church narthex to collect nonperishable food for the Bethesda Help Food Pantry.
There is a clothing donation bin in the church parking lot for the Interfaith Clothing Center.
Time and goods are not the only way you can help the community. A monetary gift can help any group trying to serve those in need. We receive a number of special collections supporting our community efforts. Even though many of the community opportunities and special collections are seasonal, you can still support them throughout the year by setting aside extra supplies or making an earmarked donation.
BUCC donates funds to each of the following groups. You may contribute to any of these by giving a check with the group’s name in the memo.
Habitat Week Support
UCC LGBT Coalition
Faith in Action
Members are invited to respond to timely social justice concerns through various forms such as signing petitions and contacting our local representatives. Examples are healthcare issues, marriage equality in Maryland, the Dream Act, and support for a name change for the Washington football team. We keep people informed about advocacy resources available through the UCC’s Justice and Witness Ministries.
Environmental Activism: Green Church Convenant
As faithful and loving people, we believe peace and justice are God’s plan for all creation. God, the Creator, calls us to care for, appreciate, and enjoy all of creation. Relying on God, the Sustainer, we strive to live in harmony with all people and the environment by respecting and honoring God’s creation. As humble stewards, we commit to deal justly with one another and the earth in all areas of our personal and our church lives. Through study, prayer, and reflection, we strive to:
- Take environmental concerns into consideration in making future decisions on how we maintain, repair and refurbish our building and grounds;
- Purchase and use environmentally friendly products where feasible; and
- Adopt recommendations made in the 2007 energy audit, and any subsequent energy audits, that are feasible and use them as a guide for future decisions.
Reducing our Carbon Footprint
We have moved from awareness to action in becoming better stewards of the environment both corporately and personally. As a church we have made changed to reduce our carbon footprint.
- 100% Windpower for our electricity needs for our church
- Updated our heating and cooling systems to be much more energy efficient
- Added extra insulation as part of the roof replacement
- Updated all our overhead fluorescent light fixtures with more energy efficient lighting
- We have replaced all our exit lights with super efficient LED signs
- Added badly needed weather-stripping
- Placed recycle bins throughout the church
- Educated our members how to be more energy efficient in their homes
As individuals we have made our homes more energy efficient and many of our members have all or most of their electricity generated by renewable sources.
We joined forces with Greater Washington Interfaith Power (GW-IPL)and Light http://gwipl.org/ to work with other faith communities on environmental issues which provides an opportunity for exchange of ideas, thereby multiplying the impact we have on our environment.
We worked with the non-profit organization Groundswell, GW-IPL, and other churches to educate ourselves about renewal power and obtained 100% wind power for our church and many of member’s homes at very competitive rates.
We host films and discussions that highlight environmental issues and are open to the community.
We work with the Alice Ferguson Foundation to help keep our local Potomac Watershed free from trash and toxins.
Our Faith Our Vote
We sponsor community voter registration drives, which is a part of a national UCC initiative called “Our Faith Our Vote.” The hope is that this and other actions will inspire dialogue about the importance of expressing our faith through civic participation.