History and Progress to Date
When the Campus Renewal Project was launched, the congregation made a parallel decision to establish a Mission Project Fund, expressed by Council thus: As we build at Rock Spring, the congregation has decided to listen for the still-speaking voice of the One who points the way to a transformed world of Just Peace, where all people live in community with each other and our earth. While the details are not yet clear, we believe that if we listen, explore, and do some hard work together, we will discern what Rock Spring can do to live toward that future.
To advance this effort, the Council established a Task Force that was asked to “draft a detailed process for receiving proposed partnerships and projects and for vetting these proposals based on clearly defined values, attributes, and objectives.”
Over the course of four 75 minute (well almost 75-minute, in one case) brainstorming sessions in April 2016, members of the Congregation identified a number of potential directions for Rock Spring’s Mission Project. A number of cross-cutting issues and approaches were identified along the way which have informed our work, including:
- Policy Advocacy
- Faith-Based/Interfaith Approach
- Service Outreach
- Poverty, Employment, Opportunity
- Non-Profit or Small Business Incubator/Lab
In January 2017, a group of volunteers came forward to help develop and refine nine areas that had piqued congregation interest during our initial Mission Project discernment process. By summer 2017, the nine ideas had undergone a series of fairly organic mergers and acquisitions, reducing the number to four, and the Project Development Teams have fleshed each one of these out in greater detail. You can find links to the proposals below, as well as a short Video summarizing the high points of the projects. A full set of the proposals can also be found in the Seagmueller room in hard copy.
Mission Project Proposals
Global Mission and Peacekeeping
POC: Erik Rasmussen, Phil Shull, Bob Harris
Building on Rock Spring’s focus on Palestine and peace in the Middle East, this project focuses on new partnerships. One partner, the YWCA of Palestine (already a UCC Partner), works to improve the lives of children, youth, and women in refugee camps. The other partner, Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP), is a theologically diverse consortium which educates and advocates for peace. As a current member of CMEP, RS would promote educational forums, and participate in advocacy to political leaders.
Green Accelerator Project (GAP)
POC: Jerry Hartz, Susan Peters, Craig Cheney, Stuart Scott
Addressing climate change is not a hopeless task and practical steps can be taken to reduce energy consumption AND save money. GAP’s goals are big, bold and transformative and are intended to make Rock Spring a national leader in combatting climate change through:
- educating RS to reduce fossil fuel dependency and increase energy efficiency;
- bringing solar light and sustainable economic development to rural villages abroad;
- reducing climate impact locally and assisting low-income homes and immigrants.
Under GAP, Rock Spring will partner with Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment (ACE) and Solar Village Project (SVP) - which provides solar power and light to Indian and African households. 1) Participating RS households will conduct a comprehensive energy assessment (lighting, heating/cooling, insulation, transportation) to achieve the greatest energy savings possible. 2) Energy savings will be given to SVP projects that provide solar light to rural villagers at only $50 per village household. 3) RS will volunteer in ACE’s local environmental programs, including Energy Masters, to provide energy savings to low-income and immigrant households.
Portal/Coordination Center/Incubator For Social Justice
POC: Steve Silcox, Hugh Barton
The primary purpose of this project is to build a Coordination Center and Incubator within Rock Spring for both the dissemination of social justice related information and mobilization of volunteer opportunities for church members. This project will promote increased advocacy, participation and funding by church members of specific social justice issues. In addition, it will serve as an incubator for social service enterprises that support new social justice activities. The project will focus on identifying existing and new social justice issues and finding effective ways to address them. A full spectrum of issues would be addressed including immigration, poverty, racism, sexism, climate change, health care, labor laws, civil rights, education, LGBTQ, etc. The project would require hiring a paid part-time Coordinator who would identify social justice activities in which church members might be interested. In addition, a website would be created to disseminate information and volunteer opportunities.
Welcoming the Stranger: Support for Refugees in Northern Virginia
POC: Betty Rasmussen, Margaret Miller, Michael Bell, Kathy Hale
This project aims to facilitate the resettlement of refugees in Northern Virginia by providing assistance related to housing, integration into community life, education, and transportation. To this end, Rock Spring would partner with Catholic Charities, an established refugee resettlement agency that has identified numerous opportunities for us to connect both personally and financially with the approximately 250 families they resettle each year. The focus would be on helping refugees both upon arrival and after the short period (3-6 months) of State Department financial assistance. Our relationship would be ongoing, highly practical, and highly interpersonal. It could be scaled up or scaled down depending upon congregational availability and interest. The budget presented does not exhaust the whole “big gift”. It could be extended to provide for more support of the same type or to overlap with other projects.
Between now and March 11, we are working to acquaint the congregation better with the proposals as we prepare to move forward. Listen for more during Moments for Mission in the service, watch for Laura’s “what I like” series of short videos in the Rock Spring weekly updates, look for members of the Project Development teams at coffee hour and ask them questions. Get informed!
One Last Note
Remember, YOU are our most valuable resource in this effort — only you know where you are ready to commit your time and talents — whether you decide to start with an energy audit of your home to combat climate change, or you set aside a Saturday to greet a newly arrived refugee and help them settle into their new apartment, or you go up to the Hill to advocate for funding for Palestinians through UNWRA, or you see an open weekend and consult our Social Justice Portal for a volunteer opportunity that pulls at your heartstrings.
Over the coming weeks, we invite you to ask the Project Development Teams about their ideas. As you do this, keep asking yourself, “where do I see myself? What might I do? Where is my heart leading me? How is the Spirit moving through our process?”
Mission Project Task Force Members:
Mission Project Forms:
Upcoming Mission Project Events
Latest Mission Project News
What: All Hands On Deck: Welcoming the Stranger Picnic & Games
When: Sunday, July 22, 3:00-6:00 p.m.
Where: Chinquapin Park, 3210 King Street, Alexandria, VA
Join refugee families and other Rock Springers for a picnic on July 22 at Chinquapin Park in Alexandria. This is the launch of our “Welcoming the Stranger” (WtS) Mission Project outreach to help refugees supported by Catholic Charities Migration and Refugee Services resettle in Northern Virginia. The day will include an intergenerational picnic, soccer games, activities for young children, and home repair work projects.
In an effort to be hospitable to our guests, we will open registration gradually so that our attendance will hopefully be similar to theirs. To start, we will open picnic sign-ups to the first 50 people. As we learn about how many refugee families will be attending, we may open more spots. Please sign-up at http://bit.ly/WtSPicnic2018 and indicate which of the following you are interested in: attending the picnic playing soccer (children and youth participation is especially encouraged) bringing a dish to share driving refugee families to and from the picnic (you must be registered as a volunteer with Catholic Charities for this. See next article for instructions.) home repair projects.
Questions about this event? Contact Kathy Hale (303-902-1254) or Hannah Chismar (703-307-2488).
As the Welcoming the Stranger Mission Project ramps up its partnership with Catholic Charities, we need to develop a base of volunteers who are available to help with a variety of projects. Signing up does not commit you to anything, but is the first step in the process. Go to https://bit.ly/2KHDHzo to get involved.