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Church of The Foothills: The Next Global Mission Church?

by Susan Richardson

     On Sunday, May 20, 2012, the Church of the Foothills UCC/DOC, Santa Ana (ChOTF) voted unanimously at its quarterly Congregational Meeting to Be a Global Mission Church.  The process was begun when two of its members, Pastor Mike Holland and Susan Richardson of the Conference and Region’s Global Ministries Committee, began working to make it happen.  Seeing other churches in southern California (Claremont United Church of Christ and First Congregational Church of Long Beach) begin the work made us look seriously at the process, too.

     The idea was taken to the Peace, Benevolence & Justice Ministry (PB&J) to study the path recommended in the workbook.  Many of the steps to becoming a Global Mission Church were already integrated into our church fabric.  Two of our members, Rev. Bernie and Julia Davis, were missionaries to the Belgian Congo (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo), where both their children were born and raised.  ChOTF has six members who are trained as Ministries & Mission Interpreters (MMI) for Global Ministries (GM).  On their return from travels with GM to visit partners in Cuba, Israel/Palestine or Nicaragua, they continued education of our congregation on the partners they met, the facts on the ground and the needs of the people from all of these countries.  In recent years we have invited many itinerating Global Missionaries to speak at worship, present at church functions and be hosted by our members.  Over this Memorial weekend, for example, our members will host Maryjane and Don Westra from Zimbabwe for their last four nights in southern California.

     All these years there was nothing that said the members of Church of the Foothills should be intentional about their efforts with regards to Global Ministries.  The steps to Be A Global Mission Church that we have followed happened because individuals made them happen.  A couple chose to be missionaries, travel dreams came true for six persons (some due to various scholarships) and we had a membership hungry for education.  But none of this was intentional.  With this vote we will affirm what we have already been doing and set our action plan in motion.

     When a congregation wants to Be A Global Mission Church they budget money for GM, plan ahead for missionary itinerations in their Region or Conference, educate members about our missionaries in the field and support and pray for them all.  Members encourage and provide scholarships for those in their church wishing to travel with GM.  Just as we had to go through an intentional education process to be a truly Open and Affirming (ONA) church to GLBTQ (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer) folks, so too we went through this educational process to truly Be A Global Mission Church.  As Open and Affirming commits us to the GLBTQ  community, Be A Global Mission Church states that we are committed to our global community.   It will be exciting to see “where in the world” the action takes ChOTF, the third congregation in our Conference and Region to take this step.  Join us?

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