Sunday Shared Offering
The members of First Parish decided in early 2008 to begin an ongoing program in which we donate half of our weekly undesignated offering to non-profit organizations doing social service and social justice work in our local communities. Each month, an organization is chosen and their work is described in a spoken and written announcement. A bulletin board is devoted to describing the organization, its mission, and needs for volunteers. Our Shared Offering program has benefited many organizations, helped us establish partnerships, educated our congregation about social justice work being done in our communities, and increased our visibility as a giving church in the community.
Our process and criteria for choosing these organizations has been developing over the three years of the program. The choices for each month closely reflect the congregation’s Social Justice and Transformation priorities, will generally be limited to local service and advocacy organizations, and include those groups with whom First Parish wants to form partnerships. There will, however, be flexibility in order to respond to crises in our community and in the world. The Social Justice Council, Transformation Team, and Program Council each chose the recipients for three months of the year. Members of the congregation are encouraged to make suggestions to these groups directly or you can email the nominations to SharedOffering [at] firstparishcambridge [dot] org.
The chairs of the Program Council, Transformation Team, and the Social Justice Council will coordinate the assignment of specific months and the publicity with the First Parish sponsor of each recipient organization. The First Parish community service programs, Paine Senior Services and Tuesday Meals, may each choose the recipient for one month. Their respective Advisory Boards will choose a non-profit group that serves their populations. In this way, the Shared Offering will reflect the missions of these programs, but go completely beyond the walls of First Parish to benefit the community.
One month will be donated to the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC). As is tradition, the Christmas Eve collection will continue to go to the Unitarian Universalist Urban Ministry (UUUM) in Roxbury.
Standing Committee believes that with this model we will be able to both nurture our Social Justice priorities and continue to invite widespread participation from throughout the congregation.