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Mission Minutes 2017: Standing with our forgotten neighbors

Standing with our forgotten neighbors

This Mission Minute shows how several congregations sought out neighbors who otherwise might have fallen through the cracks, offering them not just support, but also the dignity of recognition. Many of their efforts are supported by diocesan grants from ACTS/VIM, the Alleluia Fund and the Marge Christie Fund.

The hidden hungry in middle-class neighborhoods: Church of the Holy Spirit discovered that even in Verona, where the median household income is over $90K, some of their neighbors needed food and other basic necessities. So in April 2016 Holy Spirit opened a food pantry in its lower level, offering canned and dry food, as well as toiletries and laundry and cleaning supplies. The Holy Spirit Food Pantry is an ACTS/VIM grant recipient.

School children facing weekend hunger: Christ Church, Teaneck and St. Paul's Church, Englewood worked with community groups to assemble 700 weekend snack packs for The Center for Food Action. The snack packs will be distributed to local children who face hunger on the weekends when school meals are not available.

Newark adults without high school diplomas: For three years, House of Prayer, Newark, St. Paul's, Chatham, Christ Church, Short Hills and Apostles’ House have ministered in Newark together through Newark Shared Ministries. Looking for ways to help adults in Newark who are seeking employment, they discovered a need for an adult high school equivalency program. Space at House of Prayer was renovated for the classroom by a group of volunteers called the Carpenters' Club. Newark Shared Ministries organized training for volunteer tutors. Classes began last fall, and they expect to celebrate their first graduates soon. Newark Shared Ministries is an ACTS/VIM and Marge Christie Fund grant recipient.

Asylum seekers and immigrants in detention: St. George’s, Maplewood is working with First Friends of NJ and NY to support some of the 2,000+ asylum seekers and immigrants detained in northern New Jersey. First Friends is an Alleluia Fund grant recipient.

Formerly homeless veterans: While listening for what God is up to in their neighborhood, All Saints’, Millington developed a relationship with formerly homeless veterans in transitional VA housing. They started inviting the veterans to All Saints' for a home-cooked meal – like going to Sunday dinner at Grandma's, complete with left-overs to take home. Before the guests arrive, the dinner team reflects on seeing Christ in the face of their guests and listening for the Holy Spirit. Often, they do a brief "Dwelling in the Word" on Luke 10:1-12. Members prepare and serve the meal, and eat and talk with the veterans. In this on-going experiment, they are building trust and relationships, waiting to see where the Holy Spirit is leading them.

Seniors alone at Thanksgiving: St. Mary’s, Sparta’s Project Thanks provides a full Thanksgiving dinner to over 100 senior citizens at a local assisted living facility. Most of the seniors do not have a place to be on Thanksgiving, and this is their only Thanksgiving meal.

Spanish-speaking families in need of affordable after-school care: St. Peter's, Morristown discovered that many Spanish-speaking families in Morristown face two challenges: both parents work, and their children need after-school care and English-language tutoring. Four years ago, St. Peter's expanded its summer camp program into "Success for All," a state-certified after-school program serving more than 20 children. Parents pay manageable sliding-scale fees. They welcome the kids right from the school bus and provide care until their parents pick them up. They also provide tutoring in English, and work closely with the public schools to serve each child’s individual needs. “Success for All” is an Alleluia Fund grant recipient.