The Jesse Lee Outreach Commission is a group of church members who seek to make a positive impact in the world around us through efforts of social justice and responsibility. We meet on the first Sunday of every month at 12:15 in the Parlor room of Wesley Hall. Our meetings are fully open to the church family and public and we welcome you to stop by, both to learn about our efforts and to share with us areas of mission and social justice that you’re passionate about.
The Outreach Commission has a funded budget used to further the nurturing presence of Christ out in the world. If you have a mission project or ongoing caring or social justice need that you’d like to see funded, please print the funding request form and fill out the form with your funding request. Completed forms can be sent to Rob Mayette or to the chuch office attention Rob Mayette for discussion at the next Outreach meeting.
The Outreach Commission is continuing to identify and allocate funds against local and global needs. The Commission’s work is funded by our congregation’s Christmas offering of last year. One organization we chose to support with a $2,000 gift is the Shepherd Society. Leah Mae Carlisle, who joined our congregation as a member with her husband Tom earlier this year, told us about this organization. Tom and Leah Mae are passionate about issues of justice and equality in Israel and Palestine.
The Shepherd Society runs food assistance and medical assistance programs. Their medical program covers all aspects of medicine, as simple as prescriptions and hearing aids all the way to surgery expenses. Most Palestinians do not have health insurance. Their food distribution program distributes “parcels” of food that can cover a family for one month, with a focus on Christmas and Easter distributions to ensure that families can celebrate our holiest days of the year together with a few moments of some relief from the effects of poverty. And this is an area that knows the effects of poverty all too well: Gaza has one of the highest unemployment rates in the world, at 27%.
We agreed to fund this organization not only because it clearly meets the need for expressing our collective Christian care to those less advantaged, but we also saw a strong resonance with our focus areas of women’s health, orphans and vulnerable children, improving mental health, and the UMC’s Abundant Health initiative.
Per their website, “The goal of the Shepherd Society is to provide a means for the global community and Christians worldwide to encourage and financially assist the struggling Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza along with the Iraqi and Syrian refugees in Jordan.” They have an Advance number set up, through which we made our congregation’s gift, with a request that it be used for food and medical supplies.
There's more that the Shepherd Society does - you can learn more about their work on their website, here.
Last Christmas, our congregation earmarked the Christmas offerings. Outreach Commission is pleased to report the following uses of these funds.
Support of the Women’s Center of Greater Danbury – One of our focus areas is assisting with prevention of domestic violence and sexual assault. So we have participated in several initiatives with the Women’s Center.- We sponsored teams for the Safewalk for the 2017 and 2018 years. We had a strong showing of about 40 walkers both years.- We sponsored a table at the Hearts of Hope breakfast again this year. Hearts of Hope is an awareness-raising community breakfast and is always a packed house of Greater Danbury non- profits and supporters.
- We reserved funds for reimbursements for someone moving out of the emergency housing the Women’s Center provides into getting established on her own. We are excited to have played a supporting role at this critical time for someone.- A team of Jesse Lee members, led by Carole and Peter Stathis and BG and Dale Brown, perform yard work at the Women’s Center’s shelter in order to help keep it a welcoming place for women in transition to come home to.
Renew our Covenant Relationship with GBGM Missionary Jon Calhoun – Many will remember that we have had a Covenant Relationship with Jon Calhoun for many years, which had previously ended when he left the field. A Covenant Relationship is to support a United Methodist missionary. Most funding for missionaries comes from these kinds of relationships with individual churches. This year we renewed the relationship at that level as Jon has returned to Kyiv for missionary work.
Work towards the eradication of polio with other local organizations – We signed on as a sponsor for the End Polio Now! Concert event led by Ridgefield Rotary. This was a 200% match opportunity from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundationt. Polio is mostly stopped as a disease but still affects children in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria. With concerted support efforts like this one, there is a strong chance that we will see a complete elimination of polio in the years to come.
We participated in opportunities to help those less fortunate without regards to borders and nationalities.- Support Palestinian Christians – We gave funds through the UM Advance to the Shepherd Society, an organization that offers food and medical supplies to families, with food assistance especially applied around Christmas and Easter. This opportunity was brought to us by Leah Mae Carlisle.- Sponsor a family through Beyond Borders – Beyond Borders is a Haitian relief organization that does direct family sponsorship. We are just starting with this relationship and will surely have more to report in the months to come. This opportunity was brought to us by Marc and Elizabeth Rabinowitz.- Fund another Rise Against Hunger event – We reserved funds for another meal packing Rise Against Hunger event, which the Teen Leadership Council will be planning in the coming year.
We pursued a few paths of needs close to home.- Funding the establishment of a chaplaincy and spiritual wellnessprogram at Ann’s Place. - Sponsoring the ARC Peaceable Homes breakfast and KIDS program – Peaceable Homes seeks to combat Domestic Violence. The KIDS program is an in-school assistance and tutoring/mentorship program for children in Danbury schools who are at or below the poverty line. - We created a Jesse Lee Emergency Relief Fund to designate direct assistance for those in crisis situations that we become aware of.- We funded Pastor Bill’s discretionary account.- We reserved funds for any potential shortfalls for the Shoebox program should we not receive enough donations of Christmas gifts and material to cover the commitments we’ve made to the older adults in Ridgefield’s assisted living facilities.
I hope that you join me in feeling a sense of pride over these many activities. The Outreach Commission thanks YOU for your making these opportunities possible with giving in the Christmas offering last year. Please note that several of these opportunities came from our request for input from the congregation, and our door is always open for those discussions. We hope that you will please consider Jesse Lee’s missional focus in your Christmas offering again this year.
Regards,Rob Mayette on behalf of Outreach Commission