Justice and Outreach
Our Justice and Outreach committee at First Church Somerville is consistently working on making “God's expansive love and justice real through (...) transformative community engagement.” We do so through intergenerational and interfaith projects, collections, financial giving, and connections with community partners. To conserve our resources and make our efforts more effective, we mainly focus on three areas each calendar year. We try to rely on the strengths and passions of our current congregation, as well as take a critical look at what is really needed in our broader community. As part of that, we constantly reflect on the difficult and often violent history of charity, mission, and outreach ministries and aim to work through an anti-racist and decolonizing lens in everything we do. We see continual learning and growth as central to this ministry.
Our main three focus areas for 2023 and 2024 are:
1. Food and Housing Insecurity
As a church in one of the most expensive areas in the country, we are keenly aware of the ongoing housing and food crisis in our country and our region, and we try to support efforts to tackle the issue. One of our long term partners in this work is the Somerville Homeless Coalition. They use our spaces for part of their work, and we support them through need-based item collection (e.g. canned food or incontinence briefs) and financial donations. We are in ongoing communication with them to better understand their needs, and we are excited about the opportunities in the future to expand this partnership.
2. Foster to Adopt Support
With a high amount of foster care and adoptive families in our congregation (many of them queer), this is a topic dear to our hearts. We mainly work with the Massachussetts Department of Children and Families and the Wonderfund MA, as well as the individual foster/adoptive families in our community. We support them through need-based collections and care packages, e.g. BIPOC hair supplies kits or period product kits. We also support the Wonderfund financially. Additionally, we offer a queer-friendly foster/adoptive parents support group.
3. LGBTQ Justice
As a congregation that is over 50% queer (by our own estimates), this issue is at the core of who we are. We try to be an actual safe space for people who are LGBTQ+ and people who live in a broad variety of family and relationship structures - something that is often missing in church spaces. We also partner with organization in our community, especially Youth on Fire, an organization that provides support to youth experiencing homelessness, a majority of them LGBTQ+, in the greater Boston area. Besides financial support, we also have done a variety of collection based on the current needs communicated to us by the staff.