The 6-member Christian Outreach Committee facilitates charitable work performed or supported by First Church parishioners for individuals and organizations outside of the church. Below is a list of these outreach missions.
 

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Mercy Touch is an orphanage in Ndola, Zambia, serving a critical need for 30 children. Founded in 2001 by Rev. Bernard Mukwavi (with assistance by Rev. Dr. John Clarke, our former pastor), it provides shelter, food, clothing, education (both Christian and secular) and a loving environment to children who are orphaned or have parents unable to care for them. The orphanage is located in three homes:
 Garment of Praise   Oil of Joy
   Farm
Each house provides for 8-10 children, a house mother and a manager. Mercy Touch also maintains

  • A feeding program for other malnourished children in the area

  • A Christian sponsorship program for area children providing for school needs and bible study

  • A farming project for growing vegetables to supply the homes



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The Meriden 12th annual Back-to-School Bookbag EXPO was held on August 18, 2015 at City Park from 10am-1pm. A record number of 1700 book bags, each loaded with school supplies, were distributed to needy Meriden students. First Church donated $2430 to the 2015 Book Bag EXPO. This included $930 from parishioners, $500 from the FCC Christian Outreach Committee, and $1000 from the FCC Diaconate. This exceeded last year’s donation of $2345. Center Congregational Church partnered with us in this mission and donated $1200, resulting in a combined donation of $3630, making our two churches by far the number one cash donor to the event. The event was coordinated by the Meriden Fire Department, and was kicked off by brief addresses by Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman, Senator Richard Blumenthal, School Superintendent Mark Benigni and other dignitaries. Great job by First Church and Center Church in supporting this mission!



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The FCC Annual Food Drive was held on March 8, 2015. A total of 1129 lbs. was collected, with most going to the Meriden Soup Kitchen. This was the second largest amount collected in the 10 year history of the Drive. In addition, $300 cash was donated to the MSK. Participants (all housed within the church) included the FCC congregation, Overcomers Tabernacle, Assurance Ministries, Casa de Gozo, Taiwanese Christian Church and Boy Scout Troop 10.



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Each year, the Christian Outreach Committee partners with the Covenant to Care organization to provide toys, clothing and other requested items to 50 needy area children during the Holiday season. Individual parishioners select one or more children and then purchase the desired items on that child’s list. Requested items run the gamut from toys to sheets to overcoats. One member of the Christian Outreach Committee supervises this program each December, recruiting the donations and transferring the collected items to Covenant to Care.



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In 2014 and 2015, members of First Church, led by Pastor Bruce Miller, formed the core of international mission trips to Nagarote, Nicaragua. During this time, the mission teams built and renovated classrooms in a local school and installed much needed latrines for local homes. Temperatures and humidity usually hover around 100, making the work challenging. But the teams return each time, eager to plan the mission trip for the following year.



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The Meriden Clergy Association held its first annual “Stone Soup” food collection for the Meriden Soup Kitchen. Each of 9 Meriden churches brought contributions of a single food item that was most needed by the MSK. First Congregational Church was requested to bring egg noodles and ziti. The food donations in this category were brought to our worship service on Nov. 15, 2015 and all churches delivered their donations to the MSK on Nov. 20.



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The Christmas Tree Ministry was started in Dec. 2015, with plans to make this an annual outreach event. An undecorated tree was erected near the entrance to the sanctuary, and parishioners were requested to attach new hats, scarves and gloves to be donated to the Meriden Homeless Shelter. By the end of the Christmas Eve service, the tree was loaded with gifts and these were then delivered to the Shelter the following week.

Additional Christian Outreach programs include:

  • Pastor’s Discretionary Fund (to assist needy residents)

  • Annually hosting Meriden's "Walk for Warmth"

  • Scholarships (financial support for camperships and college scholarships)

  • Home to AA and NA meetings four days/week

  • Safety Net Program (Meriden-Wallingford Housing Coalition)

  • Monthly hosting of  the UCC – Healthcare For Everyone

  • Weekly refreshments after worship service in Smith Hall