Partnerships Create a Better World
Thirty-three years ago, Outreach initiated a partnership program to provide faith communities, both large and small, with the opportunity to engage in philanthropy. This allowed organized groups to participate in fundraising efforts that could, if desired, target geographical areas and specific needs.
More than 300 of these groups have contributed to the mission of Outreach. The $5.3 million donated over these three decades is enough to give annual support to more than 25 schools and bring almost 30 villages out of extreme poverty.
Love Thy Neighbor
Charity is a fundamental tenet of faith communities. As we gather to worship and give thanks for the prosperity we have been blessed with, we are called to look outward for opportunities to spread those blessings around the world. This devotion to advancing the well-being of our neighbors is a central focus of any congregation that feels the sense of stewardship and selflessness that underlies so many teachings of our faith.
Since its inception, many Community of Christ groups have been leaders in the Outreach Partner Program. The congregations and mission centers that have donated span the United States and reach into many other parts of the world, including the British Isles, Australia, French Polynesia, and Japan. They have been an unwavering source of extraordinary support for decades.
The scope of charitable giving in the Community of Christ faith tradition is so broad and far-reaching that it includes women’s groups, youth groups, Sunday School classes, Graceland University Spectacular Camp, and reunions. The number of groups within the larger community that have given of themselves seems to have no end, and neither does the limits of their generosity.
Faith Without Boundaries
This virtue of charitable giving is found abundantly in other communities of faith. Methodist. Presbyterian. Catholic. Latter-Day Saints. Christ Community. Baptist. Judaism. These traditions have also donated, advocated, and raised funds for the mission of Outreach.
Regardless of the faith tradition, the legacy of these communities is the multi-generational creation of a better world. Clean water, health, housing, the opportunity to create better lives for children – these are the legacies left by these faith partners.
As the landscape of faith communities evolves around the country and the world, congregations have found they sometimes must evolve as well. Change is inevitable, and a strong, close-knit community built on a foundation of faith allows a congregation to adapt to new realities. Unfortunately, over time it’s been the case that some groups have found it necessary to close their doors and evolve the expression of their faith into something new.
What does not change is the sense of community, the surety of their beliefs, and the desire to keep spreading goodness around the world. The foundation of a congregation does not exist in the base of a building but in the hearts of community members who decide each day to keep intact what matters most – faith, fellowship, and compassion for all.
Recently, the Community of Christ congregation of Delta, Colorado, experienced this changing landscape. Yet, as members contemplated how to serve their own village, they never lost sight of the service they had been providing to the world community for so long. Upon the sale of their beloved building, they donated a portion to Outreach as a legacy gift to help families worldwide who are pulling themselves from extreme poverty. Shyree Kirkpatrick of the Delta congregation shared her thoughts:
“I really like the idea of a lasting contribution from a congregation to Outreach… If a congregation has given to Outreach, it would be nice to know they can continue that giving, even when the congregation ‘transforms’ to something different.”
Also in 2021, the Community of Christ congregation in Osawatomie, Kansas, decided to close. During the process, members voted to donate part of the funds raised in the sale of the property to Outreach. The group had been giving generously for years and felt it only fitting to demonstrate a legacy commitment by providing a gift that continues to live on in the lives of others.
And these two congregations are not the first groups to consider Outreach as a way of leaving an enduring legacy. Final gifts from just the last decade have resulted in thousands of trees being planted, relief efforts in Haiti, and six schools being reconstructed after a devastating earthquake. One of these buildings includes our flagship school in Haiti that transforms the lives of more than 300 students every year.
With this final act of charity, these groups of faithful people found a way to follow the scriptural commandment from Jesus, “…whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”