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.” The Mission Project Task Force has been working on this assignment for the past six months and is ready to lay out the process ahead and begin to solicit and encourage proposals from the congregation. This is a path that we are invited to travel together, and all in the congregation, young and wise, experienced and inspired, are welcome to join in the launch of this exciting journey!
Rock Spring Mission Project Brainstorming Sessions
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. The following is a brief summary of the ideas that were developed in those sessions. They are presented in no particular order. Every effort has been made to be complete, but additional ideas/corrections and polite expressions of outrage and disappointment are all welcome. ☺ The brainstorming and refining will continue through the end of the summer.
A number of cross-cutting issues and approaches were identified along the way. These are listed and highlighted in different colors below to help the reader see the cross-cuts. In addition, a number of framing observations were offered that do not necessarily fit into any individual project idea, but will be useful to keep in mind as the projects develop. These have also been listed below.
Cross-Cutting Issues and Approaches
- Policy Advocacy
- Faith-Based/Interfaith Approach
- Service Outreach
- Poverty, Employment, Opportunity
- Non-Profit or Small Business Incubator/Lab
- Policy advocacy and PR work often go hand in hand, so consider social media angles
- How should we use (or not) our campus?
- In many instances, the playground is the real ground floor/gateway to change
- Transportation is often central to the solutions we seek
- In many instances, we would need training to be fully engaged
Our BIG IDEAS
Big Idea: Social Justice/Reshaping of our Political Discourse/Attacking the “Wedge”
- Can we bring a faith-based approach to the hidden bias’ around us (the “wedges”) that unconscientiously create separateness, contribute to the toxicity of our political dialogue and undermine social justice? Can we “red team” our bias’ to help illuminate the social justice next horizon?
- Can we advance social justice and civil rights thru education, service outreach? (Partner with a DC high school? Tutoring/mentoring/providing internships for youth? Providing materials and funds? Can we use cognitive behavior therapy to help change the frame thru which young people make the decisions that bear on their future?)
- Could we support enfranchisement thru policy advocacy, education, and service outreach (reducing the barriers to voting, access to government, felony voting rights)?
- Can we advance the LGBT (especially the “T”) agenda thru policy advocacy, education, and service outreach?
Big Idea: Enhance the dialogue around Seniorhood?
- Can we use policy advocacy, education, and service outreach (for instance in the provision of adult day care for the dementia-effected community, or partnering with our Palestinian-connected elder-care center) to advance issues around seniorhood and interfaith connection? Can we use an oral history project to help restore dignity to our seniors?
- Thru policy advocacy, and education, could we promote the idea of delayed retirement as a charitable act?
Big Idea: Bear Witness to the Corrosive Effects of Cheating as a Social Justice Issue
- Thru faith-based approach, policy advocacy, education, and service outreach, can we build the case against the “cheats” in our society? Can we empower the individual over those who game the system in their own favor? Can we use our brain for good/God? Can we work with whistle-blower organizations and other who support transparency to level the playing field for all?
Big Idea: Building Bridges out of Poverty /Leveraging for good(God)/Providing Shelter
- Can we use policy advocacy, education, and service outreach to help companion people out of poverty (create circles of support, provide transportation options to the needy, build a business that hires needy individuals and gives them the skills and work history to stand on their own).
- Can we take a local, family-centric approach to meeting the basic needs of those in poverty, focusing on those “living on the edge”?
- Can we change the lending model for those in greatest needs? Is there a Rock Spring Savings and Loan out there? Could we pioneer “Intergenerational Innovative Finance” (a new form of micro-finance)?
- As part of service outreach, can we establish or run a shelter, or partner with an organization like the Arlington Community Foundation to identify groups in need, or help individuals transitioning for to permenant housing?
Big Idea: @ Home Change for Climate Change and Eco-Justice/ Nutrition/Health/Renewables
- Can we become a “farm church,” expanding on our “plot against hunger?” Can we create a stronger relationship between growing food and nutrition? Can we help attack the problem of “food deserts?” Can we reconnect kids to nature and organic food supplies?
- Can we lead by example and invest in solar adaptations to our campus? Can we partner with the community to advocate for policy changes to advance renewable energy? Can we work to expand our individual personal commitment to renewables as an example to the broader community (creating a ripple effect)?
- Can we raise awareness of the threats to our world posed by overpopulation?
- Can we help expand access to inexpensive renewable/solar options to global communities?
- Can we advocate for Eco-Justice issues (like water supply in Flint, MI, or eco-refugees)?
Big Idea: Create a Non-Profit/Small Business Incubator-Lab/Home as our Platform
Can use the “RS Talent Book” to create a supportive space for groups that are looking to get their big idea (Policy Advocacy, Service Outreach ) off the ground? Could we partner with organizations like the Arlington Community Foundation to identify potential partners?
Big Idea: Partner with Faith/Mission Outreach/Building from our Base
- As a faith-based, service outreach effort, can we partner with a struggling congregation and the surrounding community (such as Lincoln Temple UCC, or First Christian Church of Falls Church)? Can we expand on our work with SEEC, and look to partner with Safe Haven to better support the region’s Latino community, including increasing our own Spanish language skills)?
- Can Rock Spring act as a witness to new, faith-based approaches to the issues of our time? Do we have vision of new community in Christ to share? Could we, as service outreach, provide seed money to help others transcend the barriers they face? Can we help reorient views about the faith community?
- Thru policy advocacy, education, and service outreach, can we promote understanding between people? Can we build on our work reaching out to other faith communities?
- Thru service outreach, can we create more intentional connections with our community? Could we build on our library history by creating an “oral history project” that seeks to preserve the stories of racial hardship and justice in our own community? Can we help tell and preserve the stories that bind us together as a community?
Big Idea: Start a Spark for Peace/Global Mission
- Thru a faith-based/interfaith approach to education and service outreach, can we work to provide scholarship and other assistance (mentorship) to Palestinian youth (K-Graduate), helping them overcome access barriers and building on our existing relationship with the Church of the Redeemer?
- Could we support the Church of the Redeemer “Senior Connection” senior center?
- Thru policy advocacy and education, can we build on our work to date with the Church of the Redeemer to raise awareness for Justice and Peace, including Middle East Peace?
- Can we partner with the UCC Global Missionaries and bring those experiences back to RS? Big Idea: Combat Human Trafficking @ Home
- Thru policy advocacy, education, and service outreach, can we combat human trafficking right here in Northern Virginia?
Big Idea: Ease the Plight of Immigrants and Refugee
- Thru policy advocacy, education, and service outreach, can we help immigrants and refugees “settle in” (help negotiate the resettlement process; provide language, work skill, accreditation support) and advocate for the rights?
- Can we ease the plight of unaccompanied minor immigrants?
- Could we partner with other interfaith communities in this endeavor?
- Are there policy advocacy and service outreach opportunities to work at both the supply and the receiving end of the refugee crisis?
Big Idea: Invest in Education
- Thru policy advocacy and service outreach, can we improve access to higher education? Can we create “ladders to employment” by partnering with the private sector to create community training opportunities?
- Could we give this effort a racial justice focus, bringing books and other educational tools to intercity communities and exploring tutoring opportunities? Could we sponsor a “wifi bus” with mobile internet for underserved communities? Can we help advocate for greater internet access?
- Can we help reduce or defray the costs of education? • Can we work with vulnerable child populations to try and level the playing field and give them greater opportunities to thrive?
- Could we partner with RS PreSchool? Big Idea: End-to-End Justice Reform
- Thru policy advocacy and service outreach, can we create a win-win paradigm shift around jail and prison reform?
- Can we support reform of policing, sentencing, probation and parole practices? Can we address hidden bias’ in prosecutorial decisions?
- Can we provide support to juvenile offenders (policy advocacy and service outreach)?
- Can we help with post-incarceration hurdles, including identification and voting rights?
Mission Project Task Force Members:
Mission Project Forms: