The Board for Social Witness (BSW) shall organize and lead a program to encourage and support our church's Christian witness in the world, wherein our church undertakes to labor for the progress of knowledge, the assurance of responsible freedom for all persons, the promotion of justice, the reign of peace, and the support of mission needs. The Board shall lead and coordinate action and advocacy on social justice and peace issues; educate the congregation about mission emphases and needs of the denomination; identify service opportunities for social justice and human service needs; and allocate financial support for appropriate missions, organizations, and activities related to these needs.
–CCC Constitution, April 2010
What Does the BSW do?
The BSW carries out Christ's charge to be Good Samaritans by allocating the CCC mission funds to local, national and international causes and programs. In addition, the Board coordinates five annual all-church special offerings and seeks to engage church volunteers to participate in hands on mission-related activities. The Board also explores action CCC can take regarding economic, social and political issues. In recent years, these initiatives have included environmental protection, marriage equality, anti-racism, religious tolerance, and social justice for people of different races, gender and sexual orientation. Information on programs and causes supported by BSW include:
The BSW oversees CCC’s participation in Shepherd’s Table, a soup kitchen in downtown Silver Spring for persons who are homeless. CCC has provided volunteers for Shepherd’s Table on the second Wednesday of each month for over 25 years. Volunteers set the table, serve, and clean up after dinner. Beginning in 2010, CCC members grew vegetables that they donated to Shepherd’s Table. CCC also provides financial support to Shepherd’s Table through its discretionary mission funds.
Shaw Community Ministry (SCM)
Since 1991, SCM of the UCC’s Potomac Association has operated as a 501(c)(3) organization devoted to further enhancing the lives of children, youth and adults in the Shaw area of Washington, DC. Their mission is to work together with the children, youth, adults and seniors of the Shaw community to enhance lives and to expand opportunities in the areas of: education, health and wellness, leadership and youth development. A member of the BSW serves on the Board of Shaw Community Ministry and CCC provides financial support to Shaw through a portion of the Christmas fund collection and through member donations for Thanksgiving baskets and summer camp scholarships.
Discretionary Mission Funds
The BSW distributes the discretionary mission funds allocated in each year’s unified budget. The Board’s criteria for allocating funds includes:
- Support of CCC and UCC missions and covenants
- How much need there is and how much our contribution will matter
- Level of interest and participation by CCC members
- Balancing distribution among local, national, and international organizations
In addition to the organizations discussed above, some of the other organizations CCC has supported in the past several years include:
Back Bay Mission—Back Bay Mission, a community ministry of the UCC, serves the Mississippi Gulf Coast and the wider church community by faithful witness for social justice and compassionate service to the poor and marginalized.
CCC Youth Trip for Habitat WV—For the past two years, CCC youth have attended the Almost Heaven Habitat for Humanity workcamp in West Virginia. Sponsored and organized by the Potomac Association Youth Committee, CCC helps fund the building materials for the home the youth build.
Gandhi Brigade Youth Media—Prepares young people to become powerful leaders through the integration of spirituality, entrepreneurship, and community relationships. Gandhi Brigades was founded by CCC member Richard Jaeggi.
Interfaith Works/Community Ministry of Montgomery County—Pursues social justice by identifying and meeting the needs of the poor and leading and engaging Montgomery County’s faith communities in service, education, and advocacy.
Project Mala—Provides educational and vocational opportunities for youth in remote villages of eastern Uttar Pradesh, India. With over 1,150 children currently enrolled, the goal is to help eradicate the use of child labor on the carpet weaving looms and enable working children to regain their lost childhood. CCC members Neville Platt and Holly Brooks are Board members of Project Mala USA.
The Senior Connection—The Senior Connection provides mobility by linking older adults to services and resources so they can live as independently as possible while remaining integral members of our community. CCC member Sue Dollins is Executive Director and many CCC members are volunteers.
UCC Global Ministries Child Sponsorship Program—CCC sponsors Jamphel at the Tibetian Children’s Village (TCV) in Dharamsala, India. TCV is an integrated community in exile for the care and education of orphans and refugee children from Tibet.
UCC Coalition for LGBT concerns—Provides support and sanctuary to all of our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender sisters and brothers, their families and friends; advocates for their full inclusion in church and society; and brings Christ’s affirming message of love and justice for all people.
Collection of UCC Special Mission Offerings
The BSW oversees the collection of UCC special mission offerings. CCC is a "5 for 5" church, collecting for all four of the UCC's special offerings and contributing to Our Church's Wider Mission through our unified budget.
One Great Hour of Sharing: Giving Help, Hope and Life—Supports partners in more than 70 countries with ministries that fund development projects, feed the victims of famine, provide services for displaced people, and respond to natural disasters.
Strengthen the Church: Faithfully Building the Body of Christ—Supports church growth and leadership development in the conferences and through the national offices of Local Church Ministries.
Neighbors in Need: Justice and Compassion Like a Mighty Stream—Supports ministries of justice and compassion throughout the United States and Puerto Rico, including ministry carried out by the Council for American Indian Ministries (CAIM) and by the national offices of Justice and Witness Ministries.
Christmas Fund: Remembering Those Who Serve Our Church—Provides financial aid to retired and active ministers and their surviving spouses and children who face overwhelming financial demands.
Support of Other Church Initiatives and Living Out Our Covenants
The BSW provides support to many groups at CCC. These groups are initiated and supported by members throughout the church. Some are started as part of Board activities and then operate independently; others remain connected to the Board. The BSW provides funds and volunteers for the following efforts:
Stewards of the Earth—Addresses how individuals and the church as a body can be more environmentally sensitive, as well as live up to our principles of economic justice. Past and current projects have been starting the printer cartridge recycling program, starting and running the fair trade coffee/tea/chocolate project, organizing the Earth Day/May Day fair, and arranging for the use of reusable cups and glasses at coffee hour and other church functions.
Open and Affirming (ONA) Work Group—Explores ways to live out CCC’s covenant to intentionally welcome and affirm lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) individuals to journey in faith with the congregation and fulfill our ONA covenant.
Anti-Racism Journey Leadership Team—Plans activities and events as part of living out our Becoming an Anti-Racist, Multi-Racial/Multi-Cultural Church covenant.
Partnership with UCC Church in Zimbabwe—The late husband of Vesta Sithole of our congregation, Rev. Ndabadingi Sithole, founded the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) liberation party and played a key role in the liberation of Southern Rhodesia. The Mbare Church of Harare has long served as the other church of the United Church of Christ in the area. It is the first church built in Salisbury, now Harare, in the early 1950s. CCC’s support has included donations for repair work to the church and food baskets to elderly members.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Contat Social Witness