First Congregational Receives Partners in Change Award from Madison-area Urban Ministry (MUM)

It was an honor and joy to accept the Partners in Change award at the MUM luncheon on Thursday, April 27th on behalf of the congregation.  Linda Ketcham, Executive Director of MUM said the Board of Directors had voted unanimously in January to give the award to a group that was a longtime friend of MUM, and a group with a relatively new relationship. The awards were given to United Way of Dane County for their work with the re-entry program, UW Health for their new relationship with Just Bakery, and First Congregational for the longtime support.
Indeed First Cong has had a very long relationship with MUM. Pilgrim Church, located on the near east side was the starting point. The congregation of Pilgrim UCC saw the need for a "neighborhood center." Their church was used very little during the week, so it was used to house the WILMAR center. In the neighborhood, the church found needs, including: children from broken homes and their parents, older people, run-down housing, alcoholics, single low income adults, developmentally disabled adults, poverty, "down and outers," and moderate income to prosperous home owners seeking to preserve the quality of living. As Pilgrim UCC was having increased difficulties with membership, in 1970 they offered the building and small cash reserves to First Congregational, on the condition that FCUCC would join Pilgrim Church members in searching for the nature of the church's mission that would best serve that area of Madison.
First Congregational, with Senior Minister Larry Gruman's enthusiastic endorsement, accepted the offer and named a committee headed by Hub Pinkerton to study the situation and oversee management. The committee became "Servants on Errands" (SOE). In 1972, Hub Pinkerton and Bob Alexander, from the WILMAR area, found that the State Conference of the UCC might be willing to give $1500 to fund a small three-month experimental project.  At this point, Lake Edge UCC also came on board for support. SOE now became the supervising and supporting body for the ministry project. At FCUCC, the project was put officially under the Board of Social concerns for policy and program priorities and the Board of Trustees as fiscal agent for the funds received and landlord responsibilities. The church office secretary, Nadine Butler, served as fiscal agent. Also at this time, Alice Schacht was elected chair of SOE to relieve Hub to be stewardship chair at FCUCC.
SOE, later becoming MUM had put down solid roots and was starting to grow. Dr. David Dahl, a physician and member of FCUCC, was interested in finding ways to meet health needs.  Some remarkable cooperation was found within the City Health Department, Community Action Commission, individual members of the medical profession, family planning, VISTA, urban ministry churches and the neighborhood. Discovering a common ground of interest among service professionals, even among people who had been antagonists in the past, often led to surprisingly positive results. 
Until 1973, all the finance had been handled by FCUCC.  As other denominations began to give money to the project, it didn't seem appropriate to continue such an arrangement. On May 8, 1973, Madison Urban Ministry was incorporated. Today, MUM has evolved into an interfaith social justice organization that has spurred social change in and around Dane County. MUM's staff and board understand the mission to be "a prophetic voice for justice, neighbors working together for social change."  We are proud to be so closely associated with MUM, and are even prouder to have FCUCC member Linda Ketcham as the Executive Director.
MUM has always served as an incubator for innovative ideas and new projects. MUM has helped birth some of the most creative, significant programs in terms of community building in Dane County. They currently serve as the incubator and fiscal agent for the Street Pulse Newspapers, Allied Partners and the Allied-Dunn's Marsh Neighborhood Association, and most recently Just Bakery. MUM also works closely with our Prison Ministry Project. We continue to work together on the Healing House, hoping we may have an announcement soon about a small scale opening.
Members of First Cong never do work hoping to be seen or acknowledged, but it is a delight to be noticed for past contributions, and counted on for working toward future improvement in the lives of our brothers and sisters. Thanks MUM, and First Cong is "in" for the betterment of our community!
~ Eldonna Hazen

Posted on May 2, 2017 at 10:55 am in Featured Content.

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