Board of Social Justice and Action Mission Activities
Social Justice and Action Mission: Westmoreland has a long tradition of serving the community locally, nationally, and globally. Reflecting the church’s commitment to social justice, The Board of Social Justice and Action (SJA) acts as the common arm of the congregation, taking action to improve the lives of those around us by providing financial support to service agencies, encouraging and supporting members who offer their time and talents to local agencies, coordinating in-kind donations, and supporting special projects and offerings.
Financial Support of Ministries: Funds are raised primarily by our Christmas and Easter offerings. In addition, each year Westmoreland and other UCC churches take up special offerings that support programs outside the local area. During Lent, UCC congregations, including Westmoreland, join nine other denominations in One Great Hour of Sharing. This offering supports disaster relief, economic development, refugee settlement, and social service around the globe. In October, UCC congregations contribute to Neighbors in Need, a nationwide program that funds the promotion of social justice as well as environmental and economic issues.
Application Process: SJA distributes funds to local service agencies, as well as national and international agencies with special ties to the congregation. Please see our Grant Guidelines for information on how to apply. The SJA board also advocates for Westmorelanders to become involved with these organizations, because our individual involvement makes a difference. The SJA board accepts grant applications each Fall, with a due date of October 1st. After careful investigation and consideration by board members, SJA awards most of its grants before the end of November. After making awards, board members often arrange to visit our grantees to learn more about how our grants are making a difference.
Additional Activities: In addition to awarding grants, we also engage in political advocacy for local and international causes important to the UCC and to our congregation. Another important facet of SJA is to provide educational sessions related to our mission. Westmoreland also serves the greater Washington community through the Volunteer Corps program. Five volunteers, usually recent college graduates, live in intentional Christian community while working in social service or advocacy positions for one year. A separate Volunteer Corps Board supports and administers this program. In addition, Westmorelanders contribute thousands of volunteer hours in support of a variety of causes:
- Fighting Hunger: Preparing food for Martha's Table and SOME (So Others May Eat);
- Tutoring the Next Generation: Tutoring at Marie Reed and Hearst Elementary Schools;
- Supporting Children: Providing school supplies for Montgomery County children through Interfaith Works; collecting books for Resources for Inner City Children's (RICH) drive to restock the Anacostia High School Library; and mentoring college-bound Anacostia high school students.
Invitation: Social Justice would like to invite you to consider partnering with us to help provide for those in need and to become involved in social justice political action, education, and advocacy work as Westmorelanders did when we joined in coalitions to work to help pass the Marriage Equality Act in Maryland. We welcome your involvement in multiple forms; below are only a few types of activities we invite you to consider:
Potential Volunteer Opportunities
- Tutor elementary school students at Marie Reed (Saturday mornings in Spring) & Hearst
- Mentor elementary school students at Marie Reed (during the week)
- Mentor college-bound Anacostia high school students through Resources for Inner City Children (RICH)
- Donate time to Bethesda Cares by preparing/serving lunch, assisting in office, running drives for much needed items (i.e., toiletries, bottled water)
- Donate time/expertise to Shaw Community Ministry by interacting with children after school
- Provide school supplies for Montgomery County children who need them through Interfaith Works
Social Justice and Action Covenant
Our Promises to God
We will work together striving to honor Jesus’ teaching, ministry, and commitment to social justice by engaging actively with others inside and outside the church to work for a more equitable, humane, and sustainable world.
Our Promises to Westmoreland Congregational UCC
- We will help lead the Westmoreland congregation in taking positive action in striving for social justice in our local and worldwide communities in the following ways:
- We will work to provide opportunities for Westmoreland to be responsive to those in need, through financial support and volunteer activities;
- We will demonstrate the mandate for social justice as a principle of Christian faith, through our work, through communication with fellow Westmorelanders, and through our own lives;
- We will help ‘put a face on our mission’ by highlighting the specific needs in our community and around the world and by demonstrating how our support has made a difference;
- We will communicate regularly during worship and in our newsletter with the Westmoreland congregation about opportunities for involvement as well as actions taken;
- We will seek to provide topical forums, films, and other gatherings that deepen our own and the congregation’s understanding of specific issues that contribute to inequality, violence, and constricted lives and which can help discern actions Westmorelanders might take;
- We will coordinate our work with the work of other committees in 2015, including:
- BCE to ensure that there are opportunities for pursuing social justice that reach across all age groups at Westmoreland;
- The Westmoreland Volunteer Corps to help support the Corps’ on-the-ground work in pursuit of social justice;
- The ministerial staff.
Our Promises to Each Other on this Board
- To open each meeting with a spiritual moment making it clear that our commitment to social justice work is a central part of our faith;
- To share responsibility so that all committee members can contribute;
- To be responsible about time at our meetings, letting all speak but working effectively and efficiently together;
- To hold an annual social gathering to become acquainted outside our committee meetings;
- To be open to new possibilities for social justice work that may be presented during the year.