The MINISTRY OF MISSIONS AND OUTREACH (MMO) oversees support to a wide range of local non-profit agencies, a local public school, the needs of border communities, and a missionary church on the other side of the world. MMO also reaches out to our community by sponsoring a variety of public forums and programs. In partnership with the Southwest Conference of the United Church of Christ and the Pima County Interfaith Council, we collaborate with other churches to leverage our ability to respond to community needs and advocate for social justice.
Concerns about child poverty rates in Tucson, reduced funding for public education, youth homelessness and problems in the foster care system led to the conclusion that we should focus on children and families as our primary mission priority. We “adopted” one economically disadvantaged local public school, Keeling Elementary School, as the focus of our efforts. We have implemented a range of financial and volunteer support programs to assist these schoolchildren, encompassing both academic and nutritional/recreational/human service needs.
Our youth mission project supports homeless and at-risk youth and youth in foster care. We are focused on developing a supportive relationship with Our Family Services’ Reunion House, a shelter facility devoted to the needs of homeless youth and those in foster care, ages 12 to 17.
Our other mission priorities have traditionally included homelessness, hunger, and immigration issues. We have provided ongoing support, through both volunteer efforts and direct contributions, to Interfaith Community Services, Primavera Foundation, Habitat for Humanity, Casa Maria, TIHAN, and the Iskashitaa Refugee Network
Regionally, we expend considerable effort because of our unique perspective and proximity to the border. Needlework for Nogales Children (N4NC), an international assistance program, was developed in collaboration with HEPAC (Home of Hope & Peace) in Nogales, Sonora, to train women and children in needlecrafts and enable them to develop skills in craft work that will help sustain their families. The N4NC project team also raises substantial funds to support other needs of that community.
Internationally, much of our support goes to communities associated with a missionary church in Sri Lanka that has been the locus of Church World Service mission programs for many years.
MMO has continued to sponsor public forums featuring speakers who are experts on a variety of topics. The most recent topics have included solar power, Tucson’s economic outlook, preservation of the Sonoran desert, K-12 education, and improvements in how mental health crises are handled.
Adventures in Art, our theme-based public exhibits showcasing the talents of many of our members, have recently featured photography, stained glass and nativity collections.
We also support music and arts education through the Casas Adobes Fine Arts Academy (CAFAA) which has approximately eight professional instructors and 100 students receiving lessons on site during a given month.
In addition, we provide meeting space for a wide range of non-profit groups including, for example, Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and the National Alliance for Mental Illness.
Through our relationship with the Pima County Interfaith Council (PCIC), we have participated actively with others from a wide range of other churches and denominations on issues of common interest, chiefly public education, access to healthcare coverage and immigration reform.