As we continue to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Faith, we focus on Mission this month. In early years, Mission Fest was actually a community event. It was held the Monday after Pentecost. A person who was working in the mission field would be a guest speaker. The day included a large meal at noon.
Later, a Sunday in late fall was designated as Mission Fest. Members would bring produce from their gardens such as apples, pears, potatoes, pumpkins and whatever else they had to church. Apples would often be put around the top of the piano to decorate it and some of the other donations were placed in groups in front of the altar. Home canned goods could also be donated so ladies of the congregation canned a little extra. These donations were then taken to the Deaconess Hospital in Milwaukee.
On Christmas Eve, the children would present their program and the offering from that evening was given to the Bensenville Children’s Home in St. Louis. During the year, Sunday School children would support Heifer Project International by bringing their coins to purchase a bee or a chicken sticker to add to the Heifer Project poster.
The youth, along with the Women’s Guild, would coordinate a collection of clothing for the Winnebago Indian Mission at Black River Falls and the Sunburst Children’s Home in Neilsville. At Christmas time, the youth would wrap gifts and someone would deliver them to the Mission at Black River Falls. Many years the Women’s Guild would make a quilt for the Sunburst Home.
The Women’s Guild continues to sponsor a child in Haiti through Ventures in People. Members of the congregation support UCC missions with their offerings to One Great Hour of Sharing and Neighbors in Need. A Prayer Shawl Ministry has been developed.
Over the course of the years, various people working in the mission field have come to present their information. The latest was Mark Behle who serves in Lesotho, Africa. The congregation also gathered school supplies when member, Cathy Schmidt, traveled to Kenya, and enjoyed a spaghetti dinner with Bryan Sirchio before his Haiti concert.
In recent years, a Sunday in May has been designated as Mission Sunday. Most Mission Sundays focus on mission work going on in our own area including Habitat for Humanity, Albrecht Free Clinic, Interfaith Caregivers, The Gathering, and The Slinger Food Pantry, agencies the congregation has supported both by volunteer time and money collected in our coin tower in the sanctuary.
The congregation has long been active in Church World Service’s CROP walk, enjoying a fall outing and collecting pledges. We’ve also purchased gifts for needy families through the Gingerbread House “giving tree”, and this year helped the homeless through Family Promise and in 2012 are planning a trip to Back Bay Mission with Pastor Sharon’s leadership.