Interested in learning about new opportunities to help others? These are all activities that promote the mission goals of First United. Some are sponsored by outside groups but are open to all who are interested. You can volunteer for an ongoing effort or you can get a taste of trying something new.
Wild Ones Native Garden Tour, Aug. 10. Learn firsthand about how to begin or how to add more native plants to your home garden that will benefit the full ecosystem. Native gardens are beautiful islands of biodiversity that meet many conservation goals by preserving clean water, reducing energy consumption, sequestering carbon, eliminating pesticides, and providing essential habitat for birds, bees, butterflies, and threatened pollinators. Interfaith Green Network is co-sponsoring a Wild Ones Native Garden Tour from 1-4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10, at the Trailside Museum of Natural History, 738 Thatcher Ave. in River Forest. Tickets are available at this link.
Write to legislators about gun violence and proposed SNAP cuts, Aug. 11. The recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, concern us all, as do the constant threats of gun violence in Chicago neighborhoods. Just as bad, under a proposal from the Trump administration, 3 million people could lose benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, including children’s school lunches and food stamps. Come write a postcard to your representatives in Congress before and after worship on Sunday, Aug. 11. Supplies will be provided at a table in the Church Lounge.
Learn about progress in gun violence prevention, Aug. 18. Two special Sunday morning sessions before worship will share information about gun safety. There will be a presentation on the new Illinois law letting family members and law enforcement officials to ask judges to order the temporary removal of guns from people at risk of harming themselves or others. Learn about opportunities to help implement this new law at 8:45-9:15 a.m. Then, guest speaker DiAne Boese, who is active with United Power for Action and Justice, will share strategies to pressure gun manufacturers to make safer, smarter guns. Her presentation is 9:15-9:45 a.m. Both sessions will be Sunday, Aug. 18.
Housing Forward’s 9th Annual Trivia Night, Aug. 22. Here’s a chance to have fun, show off your mastery of trivial knowledge, and raise money for Housing Forward, one of First United’s Mission Partners, all at the same time. You can pick your team in advance or be matched up the night of the event. The trivia contest will be at 7 p.m. Aug. 22 at Healy’s Westside, 7321 Madison St. in Forest Park. There will be prizes for trivia champions and for the person raising the most money (Homelessness Defeater). Every dollar raised goes directly to programs and services. Anyone interested in competing or even just attending can purchase tickets and sign up at this link.
Fourth Sunday Offering, Aug. 25. This month, all undesignated money in the offering plate will go Cluster Tutoring, one of First United’s mission partners, which provides one-to-one volunteer tutoring for students from Chicago’s Austin community. Look for the designated Fourth Sunday Offering envelopes in the bulletin the week before the Fourth Sunday Offering.
Hunger Walk, Sept. 7. Beyond Hunger (formerly the Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry) is joining the 34th annual Hunger Walk on Chicago’s lakefront. Thousands of anti-hunger advocates will walk the two-mile, lakeside course to raise awareness for hunger in the community and support the agencies that work to reduce hunger. The walk is 7-11:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 7, in Chicago’s Jackson Park. For each walker, Beyond Hunger, one of First United’s mission partners, will receive $12 in food credits for the Greater Chicago Food Depository, the city’s local food bank. You can register to be a walker or make a donation at this link. Walkers also can ride a free bus from the pantry to Jackson Park. You can sign up for the bus at this link. For more information about the event, visit this link.
Green Team Summit, Sept. 14. The fourth annual Green Team Summit will bring hundreds of people of diverse faiths from across Illinois together to connect and network about environmental justice. The summit will be 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 14, at the Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive in Chicago. The event is free, and lunch is $5. A $10 reimbursement will be available for parking at the Museum Campus. More information on the summit, including programs, workshops, speakers, and public transportation options, is available at the summit website through Faith in Place. You can register for the summit at this link.
Cluster Tutoring starts back up in September. If you’re interested in weekly one-to-one tutoring for students in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood, consider volunteering for Cluster Tutoring, one of First United’s mission partners. Information sessions for new volunteer tutors will be at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 10, and Thursday, Sept. 12, at First United (you only need to attend one session). On Thursday, Sept. 19, new and returning tutors are invited to attend either a reading seminar for tutors of 1st through 7th graders or an orientation for tutors of older students (8th through 12th graders) at 6:30 p.m. at First United. Tutoring begins Tuesday, Sept. 24, at Circle Urban Ministries, 118 N. Central in Chicago, and Thursday, Sept. 26, at First United.
Housing Forward House-to-Home Kits, September Sundays through Oct. 13. The Housing Justice Team of the Faith in Action Committee is organizing its annual House-to-Home Kit project. Housing Forward, one of First United’s mission partners, finds apartments for those transitioning from homelessness into stability. We can help by furnishing those apartments with basic supplies and household items such as cookware, small appliances, bedding, towels, and cleaning supplies. Congregation members can sign up to furnish these items on Sundays in September. All items are due back at church on Sunday, Oct. 13. A SignUpGenius link to supply this help will be available soon. If you can’t shop, a monetary donation also is appreciated.
Community of Congregations Restorative Justice Panel, Sept. 26. The Community of Congregations, an interfaith organization serving Oak Park, River Forest, and surrounding communities, invites the public to its fall gathering, which will be a panel discussion on restorative justice. Speakers will include the Rev. Larry Dowling, pastor of St. Agatha’s Church in North Lawndale; the Rev. Cy Maynard Fields, senior pastor of New Landmark Missionary Baptist Church in East Garfield Park; the Hon. Timothy C. Evans, chief judge of Cook County Circuit Court; Devell Hill, graduate of the North Lawndale Restorative Justice Community Court program; and Mazell Sykes, Peace Circle facilitator and coordinator. The panel discussion will be at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 26, at Grace Lutheran Church, 7300 Division St. in River Forest. For more information or to RSVP, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fourth Sunday Offering, Sept. 29. This month, all undesignated money in the offering plate will go the Inclusive Collective, an inclusive ministry at the University of Illinois at Chicago that offers a place for all: LGBTQ and straight, liberal and conservative, seeker and skeptic, freshman and grad students and young adults. Look for the designated Fourth Sunday Offering envelopes in the bulletin the week before the Fourth Sunday Offering. Note: In September, the usual Fourth Sunday Offering will be collected on the fifth Sunday of the month, Sept. 29.