Mission Committee stalwart Marianne Talis recounts long history of NHCC activism

Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!

1 Chronicles 16:24

Through the Mission Committee, NHCC’s outreach generally takes one of two forms–hands-on (both local and distant) or financial. 

For a number of years, 10 percent of both NHCC’s church budget and capital campaign funds has gone to mission efforts. Organizations that receive financial support every year include City Mission Society, Church World Service, and Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries. During the Covid pandemic, NHCC’s mission help has been primarily financial. 

A number of groups receive both hands-on and financial support. Family Promise Metrowest is one example. It is a national organization with more than 200 affiliates in the U.S., two of them here in Massachusetts. Family Promise provides housing by the week in local churches and temples to homeless families with children. NHCC’s walk to combat homelessness in the spring supported Family Promise. Up to four families at a time are housed and assisted in getting back on their feet. NHCC has been working on this effort with Wellesley Hills Congregational Church since they have the needed space to put up families. Mission Committee members have cooked and delivered meals, helped set up and take down sleeping quarters, and stayed overnight. Mildred Hutchinson has attended the monthly meetings in Natick.

Other hands-on activities over the years have included work days for Habitat for Humanity, the Greater Boston Food Bank, and Newton Serves. One MLK Day, volunteers painted the walls of Newton’s Family Access. With the Reverend Patty Kogut, volunteers traveled to the Heifer Project in Rutland, MA, and worked. NHCC resettled a refugee mother and her three small children here in Newton. NHCC’s own Rodney and Betsy Barker started Newton’s sister city relationship with San Juan del Sur in Nicaragua here in NHCC’s parlor. The NHCC youth group made work trips there. The Mission Committee held an annual lunch to raise funds for a student there to achieve higher education. 

For many years NHCC volunteers cooked a monthly meal for Bristol Lodge in Waltham for 100 people. Les and Karen Barnstone were much involved. More recently families have been making sandwiches for Community Day Center of Waltham each month. Over the years, NHCC collected food for Roxbury Food Cupboard, then for Eliot Church in Roxbury, and now for the Newton food pantries. Over several years volunteer drivers collected day-old baked goods weekly from Whole Foods and delivered tons of bread and more to Pine Street Inn and others. 

In 1997 NHCC became open and affirming. NHCC provided programs and celebrated acceptance of gay marriage on the steps of City Hall. NHCC invited the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus to sing here and hosted the AIDS Memorial Quilt bold in our great hall for the community. NHCC’s advent markets supported the Heifer Project and sent school kits, health kits, and blankets to refugees. NHCC sent baby kits as well as disaster clean-up kits to Church World Service. Volunteers sold fair trade coffee and sent Mildred’s afghans to Second Step, which provides transitional housing for women here in Newton. Volunteers donated Christmas gifts to clients of City Mission Society for years and more recently gave local families gifts to warm their holiday. 

In addition to the budget allocation, through the leadership of the Reverend Ken Baily, church families have been generous in responding to disasters in the world. A Haitian hospital received NHCC’s help after a hurricane, as did hurricane survivors in Biloxi, MS. Local resettlement of Syrian and then Afghan refugees was supported through a collaborative effort with Temple Shalom. More recently NHCC supported World Central Kitchen to help in Ukraine. Special thanks to Ms. Wendy Donnell, director of Chrsitan education, for her work with church school families to collect backpacks, food, clothing, and items for the Heifer Project, Cradles to Crayons and many more. Let’s continue to work together to feed the hungry, house the homeless, and keep the creation.

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