Reaching out beyond our own church walls forms a core part of our identity and commitment at Second Congregational United Church of Christ. We connect with people in our downtown neighborhood and all across Rockford through our many local mission partners and through the many service projects and activities in which we participate. And through our participation and financial support of the wider levels of our denomination, the United Church of Christ, we reach out to people and communities in need all across the country and throughout the world.
Major Local Mission Partners
- Jeremiah Development, NFP
Jeremiah Development was created in 2008 by Second Con and three other downtown churches. The organization is founded on the conviction that the future well-being of our congregations is closely linked to the future well-being of our neighborhood. The area served by Jeremiah Development is the heart of the city. It encompasses cultural, religious, government, educational, and commercial facilities along with hundreds of single- and multi-family homes. For Rockford to develop to its full potential, the heart of the city must thrive. Therefore, the goals of Jeremiah Development are to:
• Create and maintain quality, safe, affordable housing which enhances the fabric of the neighborhood (the area bounded by State Street, Rockton Avenue, Whitman Street and the Rock River), and empowers people through the creation of community and family assets;
• Partner with other organizations to create and implement programs which enable residents of the neighborhood to develop the capacity to succeed in a changing society, with a special emphasis on youth;
• Advocate for the beautification and enhancement of public areas and facilities in the neighborhood; and,
• Create and support opportunities for neighborhood businesses to grow and prosper.
- The Boys & Girls Club of Rockford
Second Congregational United Church of Christ is the home of the only chapter of the Boys & Girls Club serving downtown Rockford and nearby neighborhoods.
Through our mission partnership with the Boys & Girls Club, our building is used throughout the school year as an after school center providing tutoring, recreational activities, skill-development programming, and simply a safe place for the children and youth of the downtown and surrounding areas. The Boys & Girls Club also provides daytime programming and recreation activities during the summer.
In addition to providing space and facilities, we support the Boys & Girls Club with volunteers providing food for various activities or supporting the Club financially, and, perhaps most visibly, by including in our Wednesday Youth Night programming any Boys & Girls Club youth who desire to participate, right alongside all the other youth connected with our congregation.
- Haskell Elementary School
Haskell Elementary School is a Rockford Public Schools elementary school in the Coronado-Haskell Neighborhood that borders our church to the north and northwest, and serves many children from within that neighborhood. Haskell is unique among the elementary schools in Rockford for its year-round academic calendar.
Second Congregational United Church of Christ partners with Haskell School in a number of ways, including: the Reading Buddies program, where volunteers from the church go to Haskell School to read to and with the students; the Christmas Angel Tree project, through which the congregation provides Christmas gifts and clothing items to Haskell students who are in need; and by providing assistance to students in special need.
- Rockford Urban Ministries
Our church is a member of Rockford Urban Ministries (which goes by the delicious acronym R.U.M.), a congregationally-based local organization dedicated to social justice. R.U.M. organizes events meant to keep the concerns of marginalized people in Rockford ever before the churches and the community. It hosts events of local activism, peacemaking, social justice programs, and educational and fundraising events. R.U.M. also operates the Just Goods fair-trade store on 7th Street in Midtown. We support R.U.M. by participating in events, hosting fundraisers, and keeping people informed of the issues R.U.M. is addressing. Mike Solberg, our senior pastor, serves on R.U.M.’s Executive Board.
- The Bridge Clinic
The Bridge Clinic was founded in 2007 by several people associated with First Presbyterian Church. In 2012, the clinic moved into Second Con's building. Every Saturday, the clinic provides free primary health care to anyone without insurance, and emphasizes holistic life-style medicine. The clinic also provides important training in community based medicine to medical students at the University of Illinois Medical School - Rockford.
Other Local Mission Partners and Ministry Work
- Rockford MELD
- Collier Gardens Food Pantry
- Annual Paint-a-thon
- Soup Kitchen at Emmanuel Episcopal Church's Jubilee Center
- CROP Walk
Wider Mission and Ministry
- Our Church's Wider Mission
UCC congregations are involved with mission in many ways. In the United Church of Christ, we affirm that, although the congregation is the fundamental unit of mission, mission is not just local. We are connected to one another, across boundaries of neighborhood, class, race, and national border. "Our Church's Wider Mission" (or 'OCWM' for short) is the name we use to describe the work we do as the United Church of Christ beyond the local church—through our regional bodies, national ministries, and UCC-related institutions. Our Church's Wider Mission is also the name we give to the financial support given by UCC members and congregations that makes this broader mission possible.
- One Great Hour of Sharing
One Great Hour of Sharing is a special offering received each spring. In cooperation with the Global Ministries office of the UCC and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) as well as Church World Service, Action by Churches Together, Interchurch Medical Assistance, Foods Resource Bank, Oikocredit, Freedom from Hunger and hundreds of local partners around the world, One Great Hour of Sharing is part of a remarkable network of service and caring that is efficient, effective and faithful. The United Church of Christ unites with Christians in eight other Protestant denominations and Church World Service in One Great Hour of Sharing, thus multiplying the effectiveness and extent of our witness many times over. Because of all these partnerships, administrative costs are typically less than eight percent annually. What does One Great Hour of Sharing do? Take a look:
- Building sustainable communities - OGHS supports self-help programs in more than 80 nations to build sustainable communities that enable people and communities to stand against and rise above hunger, disease, illiteracy, and other forces of injustice that deny and destroy dignity.
- Responding to disaster - OGHS provides emergency and long-term assistance to people in the aftermath of hurricanes, tornados, storms, floods, tidal waves, fires, explosions, technological disasters, civil strife, war, or other natural or human-caused events. On average, OGHS responds to a disaster once every 2.5 days.
- Ministering to refugees - OGHS responds with advocacy and help, hope and hospitality for people who have been uprooted from their home of origin. More than 30 million of the world's people are uprooted at any given time.
- Neighbors In Need
Neighbors in Need is a special offering received each fall, and supports ministries of justice and compassion throughout the United States and Puerto Rico, including ministry carried out by the Council for American Indian Ministries (CAIM) and by the national offices of the UCC's Justice and Witness Ministries.
In addition to these denominational avenues for supporting wider mission, we also support and participate in: