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LC - Outreach

Chair:  TBD

Leadership Commission:  Outreach-Engagement and Interpretation Sub-Committee

 

Responsibilities:

  • Interpret the larger outreach of the PCUSA to PNNE and local congregations and provide opportunities for participating in those programs, e.g., Mission Co-Workers;

  • Identify and support outreach opportunities within the Presbytery;

  • Encourage congregations in local outreach and provide training opportunities;

  • Provide support to outreach programs within the Presbytery, e.g., Eliot, Emerging Ministries, MATE, Ubunye;

  • Administer grants to local congregations and to other outreach programs with our bounds;

  • Report on activities of Councils of Churches and other multidenominational organizations with which we participate;

  • Preparing an annual statement of Outreach Subcommittee goals and objectives;

Relationships:

  • Subcommittee of the PNNE Leadership Commission

  • Outreach Subcommittee chair is a member of the Leadership Commission

  • Report to Leadership Commission and to PNNE Assembly

Membership:

The chair of the Outreach Subcommittee shall be one of the at-Large members of the Leadership Commission and appointed by the Chair of the Leadership Commission annually.

Excerpted from the PNNE Operating ManualRevised: March 1, 2022, Revision Approved by the Presbytery on May 21, 2022

News from the Outreach-Engagement & Interpretation Subcommittee

of PNNE Leadership Commission

September 18, 2023

 

In 2022, PNNE gladly sent an outreach grant to the New Hampshire Council of Churches in support of their mission that:

 

"Unites NH congregations and faith leaders, advocates for the worth and dignity

of every person, and uses faithful witness to build a Granite State that reflects God's inclusive love."

 

NHCCs' vision includes a Granite State where "Churches are full of diverse and empowered members, and exist in communities where all people are supported to grow into their full potential and live free from oppression and for one another." This non-profit also promotes ecumenism and interfaith partnerships where people seek the "common ground for the greater good."

 

Core practices for this organization include “working alongside all but especially the

marginalized and oppressed, being a courageous witness for justice, and working to be a united voice in dismantling systemic oppression and building a more just world in God's name...”

 

Members include:

The Episcopal Diocese of NH, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, PCUSA-PNNE, Religious Society of Friends New England, United Church of Christ NH Conference, United Methodist Church NE Conference, Unitarian Universalist Association New England Region, and at large members.

 

To learn more about this dedicated, hardworking organization or to have a conversation with the Executive Director, Rev. Heidi Carrington Heath, please contact her at 603-460-5447 or eMail.

 

Submitted by Karen Hag and Othniel Mamesah

September 16, 2023

Inspiring Mission Engagement in PNNE

Responses to the Questionnaire-PNNE’s Outreach to the Food and Housing Insecure

From the Outreach & Engagement Sub-Committee

A Bulletin Insert or Article for Your Church Newsletter

Food Insecurity

In the Spring of 2023, the Outreach and Engagement Sub-Committee sent out an invitation to the churches and fellowships of PNNE to participate in a questionnaire to aid the presbytery in learning about outreach and engagement in PNNE and to encourage networking, and the sharing of resources, ideas, and information.  The response was great, centering on 6 major areas of outreach, with 22 of the 23 churches responding that they have outreach programs for people experiencing food insecurity.

 

Our PNNE churches are living out Jesus’ teaching in Matt. 25, by ministering to the hungry, and here is why: According to Feeding America, in Maine, 144,290 people are facing hungry, 36,490 are children.  In NH, 93,940 people are hungry, 21,640 are children.  In Massachusetts, 564,030 are food insecure, 113,960 are children.  In Vermont, 57,150 are hungry, 12,040 are children.  Within the 4 states, 859,410 people are food insecure.  That is a staggering number of people dealing with hunger in New England.

 

The causes of this huge problem are varied-poverty, unemployment or low income, lack of affordable housing, lack of healthcare, daycare, transportation, and lack of access to good quality food, and inflation volatility.  Food insecurity can cause adverse health issues which affect peoples over all well-being.  Chronic hunger can cause an increase in diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and mental health issues.  It also causes rising levels of infectious and chronic diseases.  For children, there are devastating consequences like developmental delays, issues with asthma, anemia, anxiety, and a rise of aggressive behavior. 

 

Where is the good news when there is so much instability around food in New England?  The great news is YOU!  You are doing something about hunger in so many inspiring ways!  Your approaches are faithful, creative, and varied, where support goes from local to global outreach.  A few of you house food pantries in your church, some of you support community food pantries located elsewhere and many of you collect and deliver food stuffs, preparing and delivering hot, cold, and frozen meals.  The way you prepare and send out food differs as well.  Bags, boxes, and baskets are used.  Many reach out during the holidays.  Where you prep food differs with some churches cooking on site, some cooking in a volunteer’s homes, and some go elsewhere to prepare meals.

 

You also like to the support the food insecure with gift/grocery cards, and some of you participate in crop walks.  There is the hosting of farmer’s markets, which is also great.  And a few of you provide school age children with backpacks filled with food for the weekend.  It was noted that without this food, children would not have regular access to food until they got back to school. 

 

From your responses to the questionnaires, it was also very apparent that your church Deacons and Mission Committees are a large part of your church’s outreach and mission efforts, alongside volunteers from the church and community.  We have great outreach examples like North Turner feeding people in their community with a food pantry that the church provides, and they are also one of the churches taking care of those school age kids by providing backpacks of food for over the weekend.

 

Many churches listed responses that said coordinated collaborative efforts also really matter.  Fairbanks Union Church partnered with World Food Kitchen in raising $3,000 to feed people in the Ukraine.  Wow!  Windham Presbyterian has a partnership with the Roman Catholic Church, St. Matthew, with a drive thru food pantry that gives out food stuffs to 75-100 families per week.  What a clever way to provide much needed food to people-meals on the go.

 

Bedford Presbyterian Church houses a community Food Pantry in the church’s Mission Outpost.  They partner with the Lions Club, Trinity Life Church, National Charity League, and community volunteers to serve 5500 meals a month.  This pantry is seeing an uptick in need with approximately 18 more clients needing food each week.  This mission is demonstrating how a diverse group of people in a community can come together to work on this one thing-helping feed the hungry!

 

Leeds, we loved the fact you run a thrift store that provides service to the community but then you take the proceeds from the thrift store to support the food pantry!  A double blessing!  When you wrote on your questionnaire “Our church is small but big in heart.”  Leeds, we noted the spirit in which you engage with Matthew 25 in the mission field.  It is apparent that the work you are doing to clothe and feed the sheep in your fold is having a very large, positive  impact.

 

And Topsham, Vermont’s ministry of a “food Shelf” to provide immediate help is inspirational because any church or individual can do that!  Your work helps people in crisis, and it inspires us to work to increase church, community, and personal outreach. 

 

PNNE, many thanks for all you are doing to feed the hungry and help the food insecure!

 

 

Housing Insecurity

Another important growing outreach effort for the churches of PNNE has to do with the alarming rise in homelessness, housing insecurity and lack of affordable housing in Northern New England.  Jennifer Ludden in an NPR article entitled, “Why Can’t We Stop Homelessness-4 Reasons why there is no End in Sight”-July 12, 2023, talks about four factors that are driving the housing crisis in America: 

  1. More people than ever are being housed-but an even higher number are falling into homelessness.” A tight housing market, and rising housing costs due to inflation have led to rent and housing price spikes that are beyond affordable for the needy.

  2. People simply cannot pay for housing…”Rents are out of reach for many, and millions of affordable places have disappeared.” Pay and work hours being cut, low-cost rentals disappearing, rents beings raised, and again inflation keeps rising is leaving people homeless.

  3. Zoning laws and local opposition make it hard to build housing for low-income renters.” “Neighbors will say, ‘We don’t want low-income people living here,” and they will stop it. Even if low-income housing does get built, it isn’t necessarily affordable.

  4. Pandemic aid programs that helped keep many people housed are winding down.” Besides now having to pay for current rent people are now expected to pay past due rental debt. Finding good jobs and reliable affordable day care factors into the ability to pay rent. The problem just keeps compounding, especially in New England.

 

The Wall Street Journal reported in an article by Jon Kamp entitled, “Rise in Homelessness Hits Several New England States” from 2/6/2023 that 3 New England States, VT, Maine, and RI, have had some of the biggest increases in the homeless population.  Wisevoter listed the homeless population numbers by state-rounded up as follows:

                           MA-18,000             ME-2100                  NH-1700                  Vt-1100

 

Notable factors leading to homelessness increasing are inflation, poverty, social inequality, lack of employment, daycare, reliable transportation, and adequate healthcare and food.  You, the churches of PNNE, care about housing people with 13 of 23 respondents to the questionnaire either have programming that supports the housing insecure or are becoming more educated about the housing insecure and the lack of affordable housing because you are seeing a rise in numbers of people in need of safe affordable housing in your communities.

 

There are a variety of ways you support the homeless.  Two churches have day care centers that care for the homeless, Eliot who is giving the Matthew 25 moment being one of them.  Many of the respondents support people who are housing insecure by providing funds to aid in obtaining housing, which also includes supportive volunteers that minister to the homeless. 

 

Some churches participate in ministries that help those with housing instability by either providing home repairs like Bedford Presbyterian’s Helping Hands or churches working with partners in the community that do that kind of work as well like Bedford, Fairbanks, Wales, Leeds, and North New Portland’s support of MATE’s home repairs, tiny homes, and transitional housing initiatives.  Several churches support orphans or orphanages that are overseas. Nashua, Bedford, Eliot, and Mid-Coast are especially passionate about working on behalf people who are without homes or are housing insecure. 

 

There are churches, including Christ Church of Burlington that are studying issues regarding homelessness to educate themselves so they can decide how they might go about helping both on a practical level but also in their ability to advocate for justice regarding those who experience housing instability.  And Christ Church Burlington, you are wonderful and inspiring.  You not only wrote about your meal ministry, and you are moving forward with ministry to the housing insecure, but you also noted the church gives a whopping… astounding… 30 percent of your budget to mission and outreach.  You said and I quote, “CCB is small, and aging and mission is central to who we are.”  What a superb example of living out Matthew 25, especially that part, “For I was hungry, and you gave me food, thirsty and you gave me a drink!”  Just fantastic and it gives us all something to aspire to-increasing our giving to mission!  30 percent is bold and uplifting!  Thank you for setting such a faithful example before us!

 

It is so good to know our churches in our presbytery are living out Matthew 25 in big and powerful ways, no matter where or what size or make up our congregations are.  You care about people experiencing food and housing insecurity, and you are doing something about it.  We encourage you to read the responses to the questionnaires yourselves with the hopes it will inspire and encourage people in their outreach work!  In short order, you will be able to read them on PNNE.org.  Please go to Committees, and then click on Outreach.  If you would like to contact the sub-committee, please email Karen Hagy or Paul Brown.  We will make sure to share your thoughts with the Outreach Sub-Committee.

 

So, thank you, thank you, thank you all for your outreach and engagement!  You, PNNE, are making a positive faithful difference in the lives of the most vulnerable in Northern New England and beyond!

WHO GETS FUNDS FROM OUTREACH?

News from the Outreach-Engagement & Interpretation Subcommittee 

of PNNE Leadership Commission, August 4, 2023


Ascentria Care Alliance
(Formerly Lutheran Social Services of NE)

 
With the help of generous donations like the grant that PNNE provided last year, Ascentria lives out its inspiring mission as a calling that “strengthens communities by empowering people to respond to life’s challenges.”  This active organization serves people in 60 locations throughout five states: CT, ME, MA, NH, and VT, by providing care and resources for children, youth, families, people with disabilities and mental illness, refugees, and older adults.

This large non-profit also has big goals:  ‘to break the cycle of poverty and to build thriving communities, where everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential.’  They do this by offering a multitude of “wrap around services” to help people thrive and move into the future.  Their support and programs provide the following services and resources as listed on their website:


PNNE’s Outreach Subcommittee was struck by their human-centered care model and their values-Faith in action:  courage, compassion, integrity, and their commitment to be in collaboration and in partnerships that create a big positive impact that strengthens individuals and communities.  There are many people in our presbytery that can attest to this organization providing much needed help and care to the underserved.

If you would like to learn more about this dedicated non-profit, please visit their website at ascentria.orgor email Rev. Karen Hagy.  She will connect you with an individual or a church that has partnered with this organization to do some great mission work that makes a lasting difference within the bounds of our presbytery.
 
Submitted by Rev. Karen Hagy

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WHO GETS FUNDS FROM OUTREACH?

News From the Outreach-Engagement & Interpretation Subcommittee
of the PNNE Leadership Commission - June 30, 2023


Camp Wilmot can be found 40 miles northwest of Concord, NH and it has a wonderful enriching mission with youth.  While the camp is home to 200 beautiful, wooded acres and an awesome swimming and kayaking pond, this is a place where young people can ‘escape technology, get immersed in the great outdoors, and grow in their faith.

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PNNE Mission Giving & Campus Ministry Fund gave the camp a grant in 2022 and the presbytery has been a faithful supporter of Wilmot through the years.  The camp currently hosts several summer youth camps and in the offseason is available for rental.  Lots of PNNE and Boston Presbytery congregants and pastors have either been leaders, staff, donors, and campers at Camp Wilmot.  And many would say, it has had a direct positive impact on their life.  For sure, this camp has a mission with an impact!

This special camp lies within the bounds of our presbytery and serves just under 100 youths a summer.  Wilmot also has clear faith-based goals and outcomes for all who experience the inspiring programs this camp has to offer:

 

  • Faith-Sharing the good news and love found in Jesus Christ

  • Attitude-Promoting positivity and a can-do helping attitude 

  • Diversity-Celebrating and embracing diversity so that all people may grow and mutually learn from one another 

  • Fun/Joy/Learning-Enjoying camping and making lasting friendships

  • Camper Focused-Counselors serve as role models and work on making a difference

  • Community Living/Core Values-To be unselfish, cooperate, responsible, self-controlled, honest, hospitable, considerate and grow holistically as a person

  • Stewardship of God’s Creation-To learn to care for nature and value sustainability and composting


Many dedicated campers and staff come back year and after to Wilmot because of the goodness and personal growth they experience at camp.  Camps like Wilmot thrive because of the support they receive from PNNE and other committed donors and grantors.  So, thank you PNNE and thank you Camp Wilmot for the faithful work you are doing in shaping disciples.  And a personal thanks to this camp because my own children would never have experienced sleep away camp unless our church, Bedford Presbyterian, staffed the camp and brought loads of kids to Wilmot when my girls were in middle school.  It was a time of great growth and fun for them.

If you would like to know more about the camp and its programming, please go to campwilmot.org to learn more.  Happy Summer and Happy camping PNNE!

Submitted by Rev. Karen Hagy 
Member of PNNE’s Outreach-Engagement, and Interpretation Sub-Committee of the Leadership Commission

WHO GETS FUNDS FROM OUTREACH?

News from the Outreach–Engagement &

        Interpretation Subcommittee
        of the PNNE Leadership Commission

        June 2023

 
Maine Seacoast Mission


                                           The SUNBEAM

Sunbeam.jpg

The MAINE SEACOST MISSION was one of the non-profits that received grants from the PNNE Mission Giving and Campus Ministry Fund in 2022.  So, let’s look in some depth on the outreach mission of that organization.

Its mission statement provides a good overview of its purpose:  Rooted in a history of compassionate service and mutual rust, the Mission seeks to strengthen coastal and island communities by educating youth, supporting families, and promoting good health.  The mission of providing food, fixing up homes, supporting students, distributing scholarship and offering healthcare has been carried out for over 100 years among the islands along the eastern coast and coastal communities of Downeast Maine (founded by two Congregational ministers!).  Outreach activities center on two main areas:

 

  • The Sunbeam:  this 74-foot vessel delivers health, educational and community building services to residents of outer, unbridged islands.  The ship’s medical staff and state-of-the-art telehealth facilities service abut 90% of outer island inhabitants.  Over 1,000 islanders received COVID-19 vaccinations in 2021 and 2022.  Religious and secular counseling and a variety of enriching events are also provided.

  • The Downeast Campus:  located in Washington County (northeast tip of Maine) the campus builds community through food security, afterschool programs, youth development, scholarships, housing rehabilitation and community gathering events.  The food pantry provides 12,500 monthly meals to Downeast families.  The community center that opened in 2018 features a commercial kitchen, dorm rooms and indoor space for the Mission’s many community gatherings.


The involvement of our Presbytery predates the 2022 grant.  Rev. Scott Planting, for many years pastor at Fairbanks Union and The Portland churches and MATE director, served as president of Maine Seacoast Mission from 2010 to 2019.  More information on the mission can be found on the Maine Seacoast Mission website.

           Submitted by Paul Brown

WHO GETS FUNDS FROM OUTREACH?

News from the Outreach-Engagement and

Interpretation of the PNNE Leadership Commission

Sub-Committee-April 2023

 

Mission at the Eastward is a vital non-profit that has been in existence for almost 70 years in Central Western Maine.  MATE provides help and hope to the underserved by offering home repair work, transitional housing, and youth enrichment programming.  The service to MATE’s neighbors in need is provided by generous grantors and donors, including PNNE, and faithful volunteers who come from all over the United States to partner with MATE in the mission field.

Because of all the support MATE received during the pandemic, MATE didn’t just survive but it thrived.  During COVID, MATE not only continued providing home repairs to dozens of homeowners, but it also grew by adding two new areas of outreach: McCleary House for transitional housing for the housing insecure in partnership with Fairbanks Union Church and a Tiny House Project.  MATE is pleased to announce, McCleary is currently hosting a family of 5.  By fall, with volunteer help and monies received from Presbyterian Women’s Birthday Offering, MATE will complete McCleary House’s renovations by building a bunk room and egress upstairs and finishing all outdoor updates.  The bunk room will be used to host volunteer teams when the house is not being used for guest clients.  MATE’s second new program is an innovative solution to the affordable housing crisis in the Farmington area-a Tiny Home.  This project will come to fruition in July and August because of hard-working volunteers and gifts from gracious donors like PNNE, and grant monies from the Synod of the Northeast.  In the first week of July, MATE’s Youth Connection is rolling out a program designed to inspire youth to get involved in outreach and mission work.  What a blessing this is and there is still time for YOU to get involved in MATE’s work in 2023!  Please join in!  Learn more by going to the website listed below.

 

MATE’s call to serve comes out of Jesus’ commandment ‘to love our neighbor.’  One of MATE’s client homeowners named Ashley, had this to say after hearing the good news that MATE would help her family, “I woke up that morning and felt like a new person.  The constant stress was gone, and I could breathe again.  I could get my life back on track.”  She continued, “Thank you to all those who support MATE and make it possible to help people like me.  There are families like mine out there, doing their best to make ends meets and provide for their children, who just don’t qualify for the aid they need.”

Please know that MATE is so grateful to the people and churches of PNNE for your support.  YOU have made a difference to Ashley and so many others like her through the years.  MATE thanks all of YOU who donate and volunteer, and a special thank you to PNNE, Presbyterian Women, and the Synod, for helping MATE love their neighbors through your gifts of time, talent, and treasure.  YOU make everything good happen at MATE!  So come on up to MATE this summer.

 

Visit; https://missionattheeastward.org for more information about partnering with this non-profit with a big impact!

 

Submission by Rev. Karen J. Hagy HR

WHO GETS FUNDS FROM OUTREACH?

PNNE CONNECTIONS – MARCH 17, 2023

BRIGHT START CHILD CARE CENTER

 

News from the Outreach–Engagement & Interpretation

Subcommittee of the PNNE Leadership Commission

 
Bright Start Ch
ildcare Center at Mid-Coast Presbyterian Church in Topsham, Maine, is a very grateful recipient of one of the checks from the end-of-the-year distribution of Mission Giving & Campus Ministry Funds of 2022.  Bright Start Childcare at MCPC has been a provider of childcare services in the area since August 2000.  PNNE was crucial in seeing this ministry becoming a reality as financial resources were provided for start-up costs, through the formerly-known-as Mission Committee.

 

Bright Start offers a developmentally appropriate early learning environment where children come to play and learn in a safe, inclusive setting.  Offering a flexible schedule has been a benefit to many parents as some children attend as little as one day a week and others attend full time five days per week.  The church provides the facilities at no charge to enable Bright Start to offer tuition assistance to families who are income eligible.

 

Like many childcare providers, the center was closed due to the 2020 pandemic (along with 186 other childcare centers in Maine) and slowly reopened September 2021 with 5 children (licensed for 40).  There was a serious shortage of childcare workers after the pandemic and Bright Start was on the brink of closing in the Spring of 2021 when we resorted to posting an opening for a new director on the sermon board – Samantha Benner saw the message and walked in and has been our director for almost a year now.  Current enrollment is 32 children and laughter echoes in the hallways just like it did pre-pandemic!

On a more personal note, many years ago, when my son was in daycare, no one had the capability or willingness to encourage our seeking a diagnosis which would lead to much needed education interventions and services.  Had he attended Bright Start, we’d have known he was autistic much sooner as the staff at Bright Start is skilled at recognizing special needs and committed to helping every child receive necessary services, as well as advocate for each one as they move on to kindergarten and beyond.  Bright Start has been the last chance for several children who were dismissed from other childcare due to behavioral or learning issues.

 

Every child who comes to Bright Start is accepted, encouraged and loved, and each one gains skills for success in their future education.  Bright Start is and continues to be the heart of our outreach to the wider community.

From the beginning, PNNE was a great support and we are grateful for this crucial financial boost. 

~Submitted by Rev. Diane Hoppe Hugo

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