Support Marriage Equality! Marchers in Olympia Needed!

The state legislature is now considering a bill that would make marriage equality a reality in the state of Washington. You can help make this happen by joining “The Love for All March for Marriage Equality.” This march will take place over the course of seven days from February 9th to the 15th as marchers walk over a hundred miles from Vancouver to Olympia. This distance will be conquered with teams of walkers of all abilities.  While teams of walkers are sill needed, we would especially love to have people from Olympia join us for the final part of the march as we conclude with a rally on the steps of the legislative building.

We will gather at United Churches of Olympia at 4 pm on February 15th to walk the last few blocks before holding our rally from 4:30 to 5:00 pm. If you are interested in joining us as we march or as we rally, please send an email to

This is event is being sponsored by Equal Rights Washington, the Religious Coalition for Equality, the Faith Action Network, and the Community of Welcoming Congregations.


Ten Key Elements to the Moses Project

1)  The leading decision making body within the congregation, our church Council, called for a yearlong social action project.

2)  Sermons, church newsletters, and other mailings introduced the congregation to the concept of social action and how social action, as opposed to social service, addresses the root causes of societal problems.

3)  Moses served as the congregation’s model and inspiration for discerning its call to action.

4)  After an initial period of discernment guided by worship services and house gatherings, the congregation voted during worship to determine a cause and a partner organization that would guide them to action.

5)  In submitting their ballot to vote, members of the congregation also volunteered to participate in one or more of the following: a book group, a drama team, an art team, a movie night, or a video team.

6)  The involvement of “unlikely suspects” was a primary goal of the project.  Through volunteer activities, intentional team-based recruiting, and one-on-one interactions, church members who would not normally participate in social activism were invited and encouraged to do so.

7)  As many members as possible participated in a culminating social action with the partner organization.

8)  A celebration worship service and potluck took place on the Sunday following the action.

9)  A reflection event after the action and celebration enabled the congregation to reflect back upon the year and commit to taking social action again in the future.

10)  Interspersed throughout the project were “fun” elements like skits and parties.


Timeline for the Moses Project

December 2009

The pastor and the chair of the Mission and Outreach Ministry proposed the project to the ministry.  Over the next couple of months, the ministry deliberated over how to proceed.

February 2010

The pastor met with the leading lay office holder of the church to discuss the project and the possibility of supporting it.

The Chair of the Mission and Outreach Ministry proposed the project to our church Council, the leading decision making body in our church.   The Council voted affirmatively and called for what later became known as the Moses Project.

March 2010

The pastor conducted one-on-one lunch meetings with some of the informal leaders of the church to introduce the project to them and secure their participation.  Informal leaders included church “matriarchs” and “patriarchs” who do not hold official leadership positions.

April 2010

The pastor recruited a talented artist in the congregation to design a logo for the Moses Project.

Second Sunday: In the sermon, the concept of social action was introduced along with the Moses Project.  A long-standing social action parable about villagers saving babies floating down the river was especially effective in introducing the concept of social action.  It also complemented the birth narrative of Moses in Exodus 2: 1-10.  To read or listen to this sermon, click here.

Wednesday after First Sermon: The pastor sent a letter to the congregation that extended a formal explanation and invitation for the project.  The letter reiterated some of the points made in the sermon from the previous Sunday.  The next steps for the Project were also detailed.  These included burning bush parties and the distribution of informational packets.  To read this letter, click here.

Final Week of April: The leading lay office holders of the church sent a letter to the congregation that reiterated the call for the project and the need for the project.  Accompanying the letter was an invitation to a burning bush party.  Members were invited to gather together at a house located near where they live for the party.  The parties began the process of determining what social action organization the congregation would be select as a partner.  To add an element of fun, members were enticed to the parties by the promise of “Burning Bush Marshmallow Cookies.”  They were also challenged to bring their own burning bush desert to rival this.  To read the letter, click here.  To read the burning bush party invitation, click here.  To read the Burning Bush Marshmallow Cookie recipe, click here.

May 2010

First Sunday: After worship, informational packets were distributed along with the ballots.  The cover of the packet had the new logo for the Moses Project.  The informational packets gave an overview of the Moses Project, reiterated what social action is and why it is needed, and introduced members to the potential partner organizations.  To read this packet, click here.  To see the ballot, click here.

Second Sunday: The first of three sermons on the life of Moses.  Scripture: Exodus 2: 23-25.  To read or listen to this sermon, click here.

Third Sunday: Second sermon on the life of Moses.  Scripture: Exodus 3: 9-17.  To read or listen to this sermon, click here.

At various dates during the latter part of the month before the fourth Sunday, members attended the burning bush parties.  At the parties, there was a guided discussion that utilized the story of the burning bush to spur reflection on the causes to which members felt called.  Members of the Mission and Outreach Ministry facilitated the discussions.  To read their facilitation guide, click here.

Fourth Sunday: Third sermon on life of Moses.  Scripture: Exodus 4: 1-9.  To read or listen to this sermon, click here. The congregation voted during worship to determine its social action partner.  The ballots were immediately counted.  The results were then announced at a potluck following the worship service.  The theme of the potluck was “Sweet Breads from Heaven.”  Our congregation selected an organization devoted to advocating for racial and economic justice for the children in our state.

The winning organization was announced and introduced in the church newsletter.  To read this article, click here.

June 2010

The Mission and Outreach Ministry began searching for book options for the book groups.

An “unlikely suspect” was recruited to have the job of making important announcements during worship about the Moses Project.  In our case, it was a local high school football coach.

July 2010

The July 4th Sunday worship service examined some of the issues involved in our cause at the level of national policy.  The sermon was entitled “Child Welfare: Our Nation’s Moral Report Card.”  To read or listen to this sermon, click here.

The all-church weekend camp retreat was given the title of “Into the Wilderness” and was designed to relate to the themes of the Moses Project.

During a worship service, the football coach made an announcement about the book groups and the different book options.  This announcement also went out in the church newsletter.  Sign up sheets for the different books were made available after worship.  The Mission and Outreach Ministry organized the ordering and distribution of the books.  To read the initial announcement in the church newsletter, click here.

August 2010

The congregation was informed of the date for the culminating action so that members could mark their calendars.

September 2010

The books were distributed.  Participants were informed of the household, date, and time for each book group meeting. To keep the numbers manageable, we formed four book groups.  Two of the groups read the same book.  The groups met weekly and ran approximately eight weeks.

A staff member from our partner organization spoke briefly during a worship service.  After worship, she led an adult education class that gave members a more in depth look at the work of her organization.

Members were invited to hear the author of one of the books speak during his visit to Portland.

October 2010

The Mission and Outreach Ministry researched movies related to children’s issues.  These options were then presented to those who volunteered to organize the movie night.  These volunteers voted to determine which movie would be shown.  They also organized to provide popcorn, snacks, and drinks for the movie.

The volunteers for the drama team were given the script for a play entitled “Zipporah’s Rebellion.”  They found costumes and props.  The day before the performance they rehearsed.  Participants were allowed to use their scripts during the performance.  Pictures were taken of the performance.  To read the script, click here.

Our partner organization ran an advocacy training camp in Northern Washington attended by one of our members.

November 2010

The movie was advertised in the community calendar of the local newspaper.

The movie was shown on a Saturday night.

December 2010

During Advent, we took a break from the Moses Project.

January 2011

For the culminating action which involved traveling 100 miles in a bus to march, rally, and lobby at the Washington Legislative Building, a team of five recruiters was convened.  The recruiters included some “unlikely suspects.”  They generally belonged to different social circles in the church like the choir, the women’s fellowship group, the men’s breakfast group, etc.  Each recruiter was given the challenge of trying to recruit at least five people for the trip.  The goal was to get 30 people to go.  Each recruiter was given an informational packet about the day along with fliers to help with recruiting.

February 2011

First Sunday: After worship, we held a Super Town Hall on Souper Bowl Sunday.  The focus of the town hall was child hunger.  Speakers included a state senator, a local rabbi, and a child hunger expert from our partner organization.  A coordinator for a local child hunger program was also invited to come but was unable to make it at the last moment.  Attendees to the town hall were invited to bring soup can donations and money donations for a local food bank.  Thus, the event was called Souper Bowl Sunday.  In promoting the event, we sent a postcard to our neighbors.  To see the postcard, click here.  A press release was sent to the local newspaper.  As a result, the newspaper published articles about the event both before and after it occurred.  The event was held so that it left plenty of time for people to watch the Super Bowl later that afternoon.

On the first and third Sundays of the month, two more sermons were preached on the life of Moses.  The first discussed some of the legislative bills that would be part of our advocacy day efforts.  To read or listen to this sermon on Exodus 16: 9-16, click here.  The second used the crossing of the Red Sea as a source of hope and inspiration for our trip two days later.  To listen to this sermon on Exodus 14: 19-22, click here.

A press release about our planned trip was sent to the local newspaper.

On February 22nd, we traveled in a charter bus to Olympia.  Our partner organization paid for the bus.  Thirty-seven people rode on the bus.  Thirty-five were church members, one was a local Celtic Catholic priest, and one was a local resident who soon wished to join our church.  People gathered at the church at 6:30 am in the morning.  We made sure to provide coffee and breakfast snacks.  Upon arriving in Olympia, our partner organization organized and conducted the events of the day.  We left mid-afternoon.  Upon returning, some of the group members headed to a local bar to debrief.

A post-event press release was sent out, and an article about our trip appeared in the local newspaper.

Fourth Sunday: We celebrated the successes of the Moses Project.  We had as our guest preacher the Rev. Linda Jaramillo, the Executive Minister for the United Church of Christ’s Justice and Witness Ministries.  During worship, participants in the Olympia advocacy day were called forward to receive “Heroic Heart Awards.”  The award had a group photo of the participants in front of the bus.  To see the award, click here. After worship, we celebrated with a Promised Land Potluck.  Members were invited to bring the foods they would want to eat upon arriving in the Promised Land: Promised Land Pizza, Promised Land Pie, Promised Land Pilaf, etc.

March 2011

Ash Wednesday: The art group organized an Ash Wednesday art show.  Both children and adults submitted art work that suggested an answer to the question, “How do children point us toward God?”  With the accompaniment of harp music, members meditated on the art.

Second Sunday of March: We held a soup luncheon after church.  A video produced by the video group was shown.  It utilized pictures that had been taken throughout the Moses Project.  To watch it on YouTube, click here.  A power point presentation was then given by a member of Mission and Outreach.  She reflected back on her own experience of the Moses Project.  To view this power point presentation, click here.  The pastor then facilitated discussion groups as people reflected back on their experience and considered potential next steps.  A show of hands revealed an overwhelming sentiment among participants to maintain our relationship with our partner organization and to participate next year in their Olympia advocacy day.  A summary of the discussions was publicized in the church newsletter.

April 2011

The Mission and Outreach Ministry took the data from the luncheon discussion and formulated a plan for how to proceed with the next steps.


Opportunities to Participate

On the Moses Project ballot, we offered five ways for members to participate throughout the year:

  1. Book Group—Read a book related to the focus of the project.
  2. Drama Team—Prepare and present a dramatic performance in a worship service.
  3. Art Team—Organize an art show related to the focus of the project.
  4. Movie Night—Organize a movie night related to the focus of the project.
  5. Video Team—Make a video to either raise awareness about the cause or to celebrate what the church is doing.

Different churches may want to offer different options depending upon the interests and talents of members.

The ballot intentionally did not list the culminating social action as one of the options.  We wanted to recruit members for that event later in the year through one-to-one invitations by persons they already knew through either longstanding relationships or a group within the church.

For the book group and the movie night, we gave participants options for what they wanted to read or watch.  The Mission and Outreach Ministry researched options and presented them.  In the case of the books, we gave three options.  Each option had at least ten people select it, so we decided to form groups for each book.  For the most popular book, we formed two groups to maintain optimum sizes for discussion.  The book groups met in the homes of members.  Each group had a designated discussion facilitator.  Discussion questions were provided.  In two cases, we successfully contacted the authors of the books to obtain discussion questions.

© 2010 Vancouver 1st Congregational UCC