Justice and Witness
Justice and Witness at Miami Lakes United Church of Christ
A prime emphasis of our Church activity is our Christian Outreach program that addresses local, national, and worldwide needs. A key partner in many of these efforts is Church World Service (CWS). CWS is an ecumenical ministry of 37 Christian denominations and communions working with partners to eradicate hunger and poverty and to promote peace and justice around the world. MLCC works closely with the Miami office of CWS.
Our Community Impact
Our congregation currently sponsors four children, one each from Haiti, Jerusalem, India, and the Philippines. These children are each in an at-risk life situation. Our donations support the essential services provided by the partnering institutions, such as education, clothing, and food. We annually collect a few hundred dollars per child, which amazingly supports these children for a whole year. We also recruit church members to correspond with each child.
Across the nation, CROP Hunger Walks are community-wide events sponsored by Church World Service, and organized by local congregations or groups, to raise funds to end hunger at home and around the world. The funds raised help to provide food and water, as well as resources that empower people to meet their own needs.
For 25 years, Miami Lakes Congregational Church has coordinated and hosted the annual the CROP Hunger Walk for the Miami-Dade/Broward community. Members of numerous faith-based and community groups raise donations and walk a few miles for this cause. Local businesses and other organizations have been sponsors, to defray the costs of the event. Twenty-five percent of the proceeds support a local feeding program, while the balance is allocated to programs around the world by Church World Service and its partners.
CWS Kits are small packages of supplies assembled by volunteers and shipped to people in need around the world. CWS provides CWS School Kits, Hygiene Kits and Emergency Cleanup Buckets. The contents of each kit have been selected with care based on years of experience to make them as useful as possible, wherever and whenever they are sent.
Our Church annually assembles approximately 50 Hygiene Kits and provides them to the CWS Office in Miami.
At noon on the Sunday of each Super Bowl, MLCC gathers to share soup and fellowship. Usually, 10-12 members prepare a wide variety of soups, and the congregation pays a nominal amount for unlimited helpings. The proceeds are used for a pre-selected charity (in recent years, for the CROP Hunger Walk).
This non-profit organization helps the needy and the homeless in our local communities by collecting new or used backpacks and filling them with toiletries, blankets, and towels. The backpacks are distributed as a token of hope to those who believe they have been forgotten. The program also creates awareness in our community of the less fortunate. Our church conducts an annual donation event in support of this worthy program.
MLCC annually holds two Outreach events focused on the Thanksgiving holiday.
Since 2011, MLCC has hosted the Refugee Children’s Thanksgiving Event, organized by the Miami office of Church World Service. This event is a celebration for refugee families spending their first Thanksgiving in the United States. CWS recruits numerous community-based partners for this occasion. Our Church’s roles are:
- To provide our indoor and outdoor facilities to CWS for one Saturday.
- To donate boxes, decorated for this specific purpose by the children of The Growing Place, to hold food that each participating family can take home.
- To supply a hand-written notecard for each family, welcoming them to the community and celebrating this special occasion.
- To provide a few members to attend the event for purposes of coordination and welcoming.
The event includes pony rides, a bounce house, games, and music outdoors, plus a lunch and entertainment in Fellowship Hall.
MLCC also donates, assembles, and distributes Thanksgiving food baskets for needy families living in the Church’s community. Each family receives a large box of canned/boxed food, plus a turkey and a pie.
Each December, MLCC conducts one or more Outreach activities for the Christmas holidays. For the past two years, members donated new toys to the Miami Children’s Hospital.
Our church participates in multiple, independent recycling efforts, which benefit our environment while helping charitable causes. This includes empty pill bottles, eyeglasses, and ink cartridges.
Our Church’s national organization, the United Church of Christ, conducts four annual special collections among its member congregations. These are: One Great Hour of Sharing (March); Strengthening the Church (May); Neighbors in Need (October); and Veterans of the Cross (December). MLCC participates in each of these.
In many years, there is also a natural or man-made disaster that our Church leaders feel warrants a special collection from the congregation.