Mission & Outreach

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“The greatest moment in worship is when, strengthened by word and song, we go out into the world to do the work of the church. We don’t go to church. We are the church.” 

SOURCE: UNKNOWN

Volunteer with open arms in a field

“Faith with Our Sleeves Rolled Up!”

The First Congregational Church of Western Springs has a longstanding tradition of outreach and ministry beyond our walls. We often refer to this as ‘faith with our sleeves rolled up!’ As articulated in our Mission Statement and our call to be Christ’s disciples, numerous individuals and groups within our congregation work to: increase our love of God by increasing our love of neighbor; follow Christ to the side of all who suffer and despair; be Christ’s messengers and advocates for justice; and be generous and thoughtful stewards of all of God’s gifts. We invite all who wish to join us to share in the joys and challenges of this calling.

We also believe strongly in avoiding “toxic charity,” as described by author Robert Lupton, and instead embrace an Oath of Compassionate Service:

  • Never do for others what they have (or could have) the capacity to do for themselves;
  • Limit one-way giving to emergency situations;
  • Strive to empower the most vulnerable among us;
  • Subordinate self-interests to the needs of those being served;
  • Listen closely to those we seek to help; and,
  • Above all, do no harm.

Individuals and groups within the church (Mission and Outreach, Woman’s Society, and Plymouth Fellowship to name just a few) give their financial support and volunteer hours to partner with various organizations, locally, nationally and globally.  In particular, the Mission and Outreach Ministry Team is a group of dedicated volunteers working together to identify giving and volunteer opportunities for the church, with a goal of funding dynamic organizations that empower individuals and change lives. We strive to truly partner with these outstanding non-profit organizations, making a positive impact to change the world.  We invite you to learn more about the work of our mission partners and explore the numerous opportunities to support them with your time and financial resources. 

Feel free to reach out to Rev. Meredith Onion, clergy liaison to Mission and Outreach if you have questions. meredith@wscongo.org

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Mission & Outreach
Grant Process

Any registered 501(c)(3) organization is invited to submit a completed application in the fall of an odd year for review. When the grant process opens, this website will be updated with a link to the grant application and instructions.

  • The criteria used to evaluate the funding decisions include:
  • What is the impact the organization has on its constituents?
  • Does it promote self-reliance and/or emergency relief?
  • Is there current First Congo participation and /or potential opportunities to form connections with the organization?

Please feel free to contact Committee Chair, Cari Melby, or our staff liaison, Rev. Meredith Onion, with any comments, questions, or requests.

Mission and Outreach grant process writing
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Mission & Outreach
Committee

Close up of our stained glass windows

In keeping with our Mission Statement and our call to be Christ’s disciples, numerous ministry teams and fellowship groups within our congregation work to: increase our love of God by increasing our love of neighbor; follow Christ to the side of all who suffer and despair; be Christ’s messengers and advocates for justice; be generous and thoughtful stewards of all of God’s gifts; and invite all who wish to join us to share in the joys and challenges of this calling.

Numerous groups within the church (Mission and Outreach, Woman’s Society, Plymouth Fellowship to name just a few) give their financial support and volunteer hours to partner with these various organizations. In particular, the Mission and Outreach Ministry Team is a group of dedicated volunteers working together to identify giving and volunteer opportunities for the church, with a goal of funding dynamic organizations that empower individuals and change lives.

We believe strongly in Robert Lupton’s Oath of Compassionate Service:

  • Never do for others what they have (or could have) the capacity to do for themselves;
  • Limit one-way giving to emergency situations;
  • Strive to empower the most vulnerable among us;
  • Subordinate self-interests to the needs of those being served;
  • Listen closely to those we seek to help, and above all, do no harm.

Over the last several years, the Mission and Outreach Committee has been revisiting how to best allocate its funds. The committee revamped its philosophy and practice of benevolent giving after reading a book by Robert Lupton called ‘Toxic Charity,’ which suggests:

  • Benevolent giving that does not empower the receiver could be doing more harm than good.
  • While compassion and generosity are the key to Christian ministry, they should be channeled in such a way that they benefit the recipients of ministry instead of inadvertently diminishing their dignity and increasing their dependency.

As such, the Mission and Outreach Ministry Team has put in place a two-year grant application process, where an extended evaluation will take place every two years and an abbreviated process takes place in the intervening year. That schedule will give the committee time every other year to focus on volunteer opportunities for the congregation and strengthening its partnerships with the chosen charities. In addition to the funding of its named charities, the committee will also continue its denominational giving. A small portion of the Mission and Outreach budget is also put aside every year to help with one-time giving opportunities, such as emergency relief efforts and refugee relocation.

To learn more about the work of the Mission and Outreach Committee, please contact Committee Chair Ross MacIver or Staff Liasion, Rev. Meredith Onion.

Chair: Ross MacIver
Staff Liaison: Rev. Meredith Onion

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Meet The First Congo
Mission & Outreach Partners

*Due to COVID-19 and the absence of our semi-annual Rummage sale, we are not supporting these organizations at this time.

For more information on Mission and Outreach, contact Meredith Onion at 708.246.1900, ext. 222.