The Mission and Justice Board is focusing on the intersectionality of housing, food security, and health in considering economic justice action during the 2021-2022 program year. The Interfaith Coalition is a long-time First Congregational Church partner who provides housing in eleven units, case management, and meals through Family Promise, direct outreach with food to people on the street through CAST (Coffee and Sandwiches Together), short-term winter shelter, coat drives, and children’s books. A special children’s program in December is Holiday Joy. The Interfaith Coalition offers the only short-term housing in Whatcom County for all types of struggling families to live together in eleven units.
The relationship between First Congregational Church and the Interfaith Coalition goes back to 1981 when our pastor, Donel McClellan and Church Council worked with other faith leaders to unite local faith communities and address unmet needs by bringing the resources of congregations together with those of social-service agencies, largely through volunteer action. Last year as part of the 2021 budget, we provided $7,000.00 for the Interfaith Coalition operating expenses.
First Congregational Church also provides hands-on support in addition to direct funding for the Interfaith Coalition. Our Pilgrim Circle's Fresh Start ministry provides household goods and supplies for families as they are moving into the housing. Four times a year, we provide Family Promise with meal kits where families can choose and cook their own meals. This past year, First Congregational Church and the Red Cedar Zen Community also provided summer fun kits, school backpacks, and gift cards for new school clothes for children ages newborn to high school senior. This next year we will continue to creatively support the Kids Need Books, Winter Warmth Drive, Project Warm-Up and Holiday Joy as we learn how to reach out even more during a pandemic.