The Mission and Social Justice Committee (M&SJ) is involved in local, national, and international projects that address injustice. Members of the committee are elected with three year terms. They seek to raise awareness, in the congregation and in the greater community, about hunger, the climate crisis, inequality, diversity, poverty, immigration policy, and other issues that are priorities of the congregation.
M&SJ also sponsors films, lectures, sing-alongs, and discussions of national and international issues. To do this work we collaborate with our fellow Christian congregation in Ashfield, St. John’s Episcopal, and partners from other spiritual traditions (Interfaith Council of Franklin County), as well as decision makers at the local, state, and national levels.
The M&SJ Committee members are responsible for disbursing 4% of our annual budget. In addition the capital campaign of 2017-2019 allocated $15,000 to M&SJ, or 5% of the campaign’s goal. And annually the church donates 4% of its operating budget to Global Ministries, a joint witness in mission between the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the national United Church of Christ. If you are interested in being a member of the M&SJ Committee, please contact Rev. David Jones a firstname.lastname@example.org.
The M&SJ Committee contributed funds to the following organizations in 2020:
Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL) and Citizens Climate Education. The Ashfield chapter, started by Richard Prée, has grown and been active in the bipartisan drive to put a tax on carbon in order to save our precious planet and all the people and critters most impacted by climate change.
Franklin County Peoples Fund - a grassroots effort in Turners Falls that raises money to unite local immigrant families with family members who have crossed the Southwest border and don’t have the funds for travel to Massachusetts. This Fund also meets emergency needs caused by the COVID-19.
Palestinian House of Friendship, located in the northern West Bank city of Nablus, gives kids who live under military occupation a summer camp experience. PHF also provides youth with a place to record their music, and elders a voice through the oral history project. Its director, Mohammed Sawalha, has sat in our pews and broken bread with us on his visits to the States to raise money for PHF.
NELCWIT (New England Learning Center for Women in Transition) offers counseling, safe homes, advocacy, and education to women and children of Franklin County who have survived domestic violence or sexual abuse.
Red Gate Farm Education Center gives scholarships to inner city children to spend time on the organic farm during the spring and fall months.
Minister’s Discretionary Fund is a pool of money generously donated by members of our congregation and made part of our operating budget. Funds are intended for emergencies, special circumstances, and individuals in acute need. In 2021, Rev. David Jones will partner with Franklin County’s Community Action program to reach out to clients of the Hilltown Churches’ Food Pantry.
Ashfield Churches Together:
In partnership with St. John’s Episcopal in Ashfield, we support
Cathedral in the Light, an outdoor Christian community in Greenfield, creates a safe outdoor place for the homeless and the housed, the church-less and the churched, and anyone else who wishes to share Eucharist on Sunday afternoon. Our church supports this ministry financially and with prepared meals. In November 2020, we delivered 100 Totes of Love, bags filled with winter gloves, handknit hats and scarves, warm socks, and other items, which were given out during a Community Meal from Sts. James and Andrew Episcopal in Greenfield. Members of our congregation contribute items for women who will be released from regional prisons for the Love in a Backpack program, and M&SJ has also contributed funds for 10 backpacks.
Church World Service (CWS) Emergency Buckets included supplies donated by both congregations for relief efforts in disaster areas.
Members of the congregation are also involved in the following projects and organizations:
Hilltown Churches’ Food Pantry distributes food from Friendship Hall (the downstairs of the Ashfield Congregational Church.) It serves those in need from the eleven hill towns of Ashfield, Buckland, Charlemont, Colrain, Conway, Hawley, Heath, Monroe, Plainfield, Rowe and Shelburne.
Share the Warmth provides warm clothing for clients of the Food Pantry on distribution days during winter months. Members of the congregation donate clothing and help with distribution. This ministry is shared with St. John’s Episcopal. Funds are also available for up to $250 for emergency fuel needs for Ashfield residents; to assist with simple weatherization measures in homes; and help identify local, low cost energy saving resources. With a focus on sustainability, Share the Warmth volunteers have led workshops on vegetable gardening and preserving foods.
Sharing Gifts provides $100 gift cards to each Food Pantry family. Members of the congregation donate to this project each year.
American Cancer Society/Relay for Life
CROP Hunger Walk, an annual event sponsored by Church World Service. Members of our congregation walk and donate funds.
Franklin County PRIDE March, an annual gathering in Greenfield.
Several local organizations meet at our church:
Ashfield Council on Aging and the Senior Center meet for monthly luncheons at our church.
Ashfield’s Lion’s Club
Pauline Productions, a locally owned theater production company, uses the church sanctuary for theater and musical productions.
Church Funds Activated at Red Gate Farm
The Mission and Social Justice Committee has learned that the church’s $2,500 contribution to Red Gate Farm will be used this summer by youth from Springfield, MA.
Farmer/Director Ben Murray wrote, "Thank you for supporting this endeavor, and we are happy to confirm that your funding will finally be used for its intended purpose - allowing Springfield students to come to camp at a reduced tuition rate. Using your funds in combination with other support, we are offering the camp to families for $25 per student - which is enabling everyone to come to camp who wants to. I look forward to sharing another report in a couple of weeks as well as camp highlights and picture.”
Getting ready to deliver the 1,000 cranes!
This is the latest initiative from an emerging Youth Service Group -- making and delivering 1,000 origami cranes to Kentucky via the Hands Across the Hills program. Katie and Abby began their service with “Totes of Love,” a joint project of Ashfield Churches Together last November (see photo below).. In February they invited members of our congregation to make Valentines which they then gave to everybody who came for a Community Meal in Greenfield. They are going to return to the Community Meal on Easter Sunday to give a crane and an Easter chocolate to each person.
Minister's Virtual Office Hours Wednesdays 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Connect by Zoom or phone. Rev. David Jones at email@example.com or call 904-868-9641 to set up a time.
429 Main Street * PO Box 519 * Ashfield MA 01330