Outreach and Mission
Williston-Immanuel United Church is affiliated with both the American Baptist Churches USA and the United Church of Christ. It has a strong outreach ministry from within the church family to Portland neighborhoods and greater community, and even more broadly to those within the state, nation, and world.
Ministering—Serving others in things both small and large, the Pastor, while being the front-line of Ministry, is not the only one who ministers to those in need. Jesus pointed out that whoever serves the least of those in need is, in fact serving Him. (Matthew 25).
WITHIN WILLISTON-IMMANUEL UNITED CHURCH
Clothing Collection - While cleaning out your closets each season, wash up and bag up your unwanted clothing and bring it to Williston-Immanuel where Outreach Committee volunteers will be sorting clothing to take to Preble Street Resource Center, State Street Clothes Closet, and Serenity House, and and other social service agencies.
Williston-Immanuel's Food Pantry - Tote bags are provided on a rack, along with a list of practical needs, for individuals to use in purchasing what's listed. When filled bags are returned they become a generous way to replenish the food pantry shelves.
Resource Blessings Bulletin Board - This bulletin board is available for individuals to post items and services needed, as well as items and services available to be given away.
Grace Street Ministry
Having ministered for 8 years before coming to Williston-Immanuel United Church, March 2014 began the formal relationship of Grace Street Ministry and our Church. Working with the marginalized and those experiencing homelessness in downtown Portland, Maine, the pastors and volunteers in the GSM outreach continue to walk with many who are dealing with severe challenges, remember the constant presence of Christ through sadness and joy, offer some help and advocacy in physical ways, and continue to deepen our own understanding of compassion.
On three days each week (Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays) we continued to be a pastoral presence with the homeless and marginalized on the downtown streets and in the shelters of Portland. We interact on a face-to-face basis though we do get occasional requests from caseworkers and through our phone messages. No matter what the need, we try to remind each other and ourselves that we are there to remember the Sacred in the chaos of it all. We continued to meet individual needs such as socks, footwear, coats, blankets, tarps, bus passes, gloves, back packs, Dunkin' Donut cards, crosses, Bibles and, of course, prayer. We have provided hundreds of boots and sneakers in 2015. Our prayer and communion on the sidewalk each Sunday has been a consistent spot for those seeking some comfort in prayer. People get an opportunity to pray in community for those they love. Occasionally, members from different churches join us in the circle.
We continue to help facilitate memorials at Preble Street for those in this community who have died. We helped with six memorials in 2015.
The larger community has increased its participation in GSM, donating boots, coats, sweatshirts, DD cards etc. One church congregation donated an entire winter's supply of socks for the people (1500 pairs). In 2015, twenty churches financially helped the ministry. We received three grants: from the Harper Eddington Fund, Narragansett Number One, and the Helen & George Ladd Charitable Corporation helping us meet our 2015 budget.
Wayside Soup Kitchen's vision: providing food to Portland hungry. In the winter of 1985, concerned individuals recognized that many of the poor in greater Portland were going hungry. They pulled together representatives from 11 area churches and formed the Wayside Soup Kitchen. The group had no experience operating a soup kitchen and very few funds. Relying on hard work and faith, the Wayside Soup Kitchen began serving the needy of Portland in April of 1986. Each church was responsible for preparing and serving one meal per month for 40 to 100 guests. Read more about the 30 year history of Wayside here. Addendum "Wayside Soup Kitchen (1986) Founders" added 2/10/2016.
Watch this space for news about the possible relocation of Thursday Wayside Community Meals to WIUC. With winter approaching, Wayside hopes to replenish its shelves with various canned foods and other items. Bill Rayne is the Coordinator for WIUC, 207-310-8690 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Parkside Neighborhood Center - Williston-Immanuel has had a longtime commitment to PROP (a program of the Parkside Neighborhood Assn.) which represents the neighborhood where the Church is located. The Church's support has been felt not only by a generous financial pledge made toward the construction of the Center a decade ago, but also through Williston-Immanuel volunteers' support of block parties, "Super Bowl Sunday" events, after school "Night-Light" programs, summer lunch for kids, "Giveaway Days", and generous support of individual families at Christmas.
FINANCIAL FINANCIAL SUPPPORT
Maine Council of Churches - An ecumenical community of nine Maine denominations dedicated to the vision of a sustainable, just and compassionate world. Williston-Immanuel has been an Associate Member since the Council's existence, and is committed to ecumenical cooperation and direct involvement, and now houses its administrative office.
Protestant Hospital Chaplaincy at Maine Medical Center - Williston-Immanuel's mission dollars help support the work of the Protestant chaplain, an ecumenical service to patients.
Joyful Harvest Neighborhood Center, Biddeford - Through designated gifts Williston-Immanuel helps to support afternoon programs focusing on children and their families in the Bacon Street neighborhood of Biddeford.
Seafarer's Friend (Boston Seaman's Friend Society) - Coming alongside the maritime community in the Port of Portland, Maine with friendship, faith, and hospitality. A hands-on ministry of friendship, support, and advocacy with international seafarers in the Port of Portland.
Churches Supporting Churches - As a "partner congregation" of the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America, Williston-Immanuel is committed to the ongoing effort to restore 33 churches in the most devastated neighborhoods of New Orleans, through the program called "Churches Supporting Churches".
LaRomana, Dominican Republic - Teams from Williston-Immanuel have been visiting LaRomana since 1999, spending weeks helping to build and supply the Good Samaritan Hospital. In addition, mission dollars help to support the Baptist church and American Baptist missionaries in LaRomana.
Bread for the World - Williston-Immanuel mission dollars, and an annual letter writing campaign to Representatives and Senators, help to support and encourage the international effort to end hunger.
Special Offerings - Williston-Immanuel supports eight special offerings throughout the year; four through the national, American Baptist USA emphases and four through national, United Church of Christ emphases. This demonstrates a mutual passion for the mission involvements of each of the denominations with which Williston-Immanuel is affiliated.