“Community in Challenging Times”: A Midwestern Church Steps Up to the Plate

Posted September 15, 2009 in Blog

A Midwestern Church Steps Up to the Plate

Michael Greenman seemed a little amused at the question of why he organized his church around the needs of its own community just after the “economic meltdown” of 2008. “I’m an activist. I saw a need and nobody was addressing it.”

First Church Unitarian Universalist in Columbus, Ohio formed “CommUUnity in Challenging Times” to help people through crises of health care, job loss, housing and finances that resulted from the crisis. Every Sunday after the service, volunteers from the community staff tables to offer the professional advice of doctors, lawyers and other professionals to community members in need. The church’s website FirstUUColumbus.org features a substantial list of services and providers that is updated regularly. And about every three months the church hosts a community fair with more extensive offerings of help and expert advice. The church has hosted a clothing swap, provided expert foreclosure assistance, healthcare information and job assistance. Many other programs are being considered, including barter programs, help with food and menu planning, workshops on resume writing and job skills, and a food coop or CSA.

Tabling after church.

Greenman writes in an article published in the Unitarian Universalist Ohio-Meadville District’s Newsletter, “We asked ourselves: “What is the role of our community, our church, in helping to mitigate the impact of what is surely to come to many of us? As we began discussing possible roles we realized that in this situation we have an opportunity: we could identify and provide training, services, and support from both our own resources and those available from various organizations to help us move through difficulties in such a way that we emerge, stronger, healthier, fulfilled, and both environmentally and economically sustainable. The time has come for major societal change that will hopefully pre vent us from ever again falling back into situations of recurring booms and busts brought about by unsustainable economic, environmental and societal patterns.”

While the work of the Columbus church is impressive in its scale (the church has 700 members and two ministers), it’s a good example of the community support happening in many churches in these difficult times.

Any group of people represents a vast array of resources and knowledge.  Resilience Circles are a tool that can help us tap into these for mutual aid and action, as well as the intimacy that comes from revealing parts of our private selves to others.
For more information about the work of this church, see their website at FirstUUColumbus.org.