John Wesley set the example of what it means to combine personal and social devotion – as United Methodists, we believe that God’s love is one that seeks freedom, justice and equity, and we are called to actively show that love in the world.
At FirstChurch, we are committed to breaking down structures that perpetuate poverty and hate in our world. We impact the Dallas community and beyond by focusing on matters of education, compassion and inclusiveness; the Rise Fund and annual Christmas event First Gifts serve as the funding sources to fuel our work.
Scripture compels us to help our fellow siblings, especially when we find them poor, sick and weary (Deuteronomy 15:11, Galatians 6:2, Hebrews 13:16). So while we always fulfill our duty to support, we’ve taken an expanded perspective on what support looks like, and how we offer it in a way that serves the highest good of everyone.
We’ve invested in an approach that moves from relief to empowerment. What does that mean?
Churches have long supported relief efforts both at home and abroad. Usually, those relief efforts are directed toward short term needs, such as food insecurity, lack of shelter, inability to pay rent or afford clothing, and so on. While those relief efforts are important and necessary, it provides a surface fix to a much deeper problem. Many individual needs are just a symptom of larger, systemic, collective problems in our society. Food instabililty and homelessness is often a manifestation of racism, economic or educational inequality, or all three. The lack of mental health infrastructure as a society might show up individually as increased violence or struggles with addiction.
Helping our fellow neighbor sometimes means contributing food or school supplies, or providing monetary assistance. Yet it can’t stop there. In order for true change to occur, we have to transition from solely providing relief to working toward empowerment – the foundational changes that must be made to provide justice, equity and a playing field where all are valued. Empowerment is about working with our neighbors to ask questions of How and Why, and to fight to transform systems that cause these inequities.
We are proud to approach issues of social justice in this manner, as it allows us to address needs in a way that will transform lives and communities. Join us in this movement.
Our Mission & Advocacy focus is guided by four categories: our missions and outreach; the work of United Methodist Women; the work of One Plus One and the work of Church and Society.
This structure is our approach manifested – we assist with urgent, short-term relief through charity efforts while simultaneously serving as advocates and partners on many of the larger social issues that cause those immediate relief needs. Our missions and outreach work as well as the efforts of United Methodist Women tend to respond to both short and long-term relief needs, where the advocacy work of Church and Society and One + One Dallas focuses on social justice efforts that address root causes.
Missions & Outreach
Our missions and outreach work directly addresses ongoing needs in the Dallas area as well as disaster relief and infrastructure needs across the world. Working with partnership organizations both here and abroad, we are serving as the hands and feet of Jesus in the world and building the type of community that brings us closer together regardless of race, ethnicity, gender expression, sexual orientation, education or financial state. Visit our volunteer opportunities to see all the ways you can get involved with missions and outreach.
United Methodist Women
United Methodist Women at FirstChurch are part of a global network of women whose purpose is to know God and experience freedom through Jesus Christ. They combine fellowship and service to make an impact in both local and global ministries. Read more about the activities of UMW at FirstChurch.
One + One Dallas
One + One Dallas is the newest addition to our Mission & Advocacy efforts, starting in 2017 as a direct response to the need for educational equity in South Dallas/Fair Park. Citing data showing that increased literacy rates for children of color leads to better educational and social outcomes, One + One Dallas uses literacy as an anti-racism initiative. This organization unites faith communities with elementary schools in 75215 with the sole goal of raising the literacy rates of the youngest students, thereby laying a foundation for both individuals and families to achieve positive outcomes in the short and long term. Read more about the activities of One + One Dallas.
Church & Society
Guided by The Social Principles of The United Methodist Church, the purpose of the FUMC Church & Society Council is to educate and advocate for ministries of peace, justice, and reconciliation. As Christians and United Methodists, we strive to love our neighbors collectively by critically viewing and proactively addressing local and national public policy issues that benefit some to the detriment of others. Through educational forums, classes, events, public witness, and advocacy we invite members of the church and the greater society to align attitudes, behaviors, and habits with the mind of Christ and the will of God.
At FirstChurch, we focus on four major social justice issues: Public Education, Social Transformation, Immigration and Mental Health. Use the navigation to the right to learn more about each of these areas and how you can get involved.
Our Funding Opportunities
The Rise Mission and Outreach Fund is how we support the efforts of partner agencies serving our neighbors at home and abroad. The Rise Fund awards grants on a competitive basis to FirstChurch’s mission and outreach partners who are most effectively serving our communities. God has blessed this congregation with great gifts, and together we can push outside our walls to make disciples of Christ for the transformation of the world.
The Rise Fund Committee, which is comprised of a spectrum of FUMC members of varying ages, backgrounds and passions, awards grants to selected agencies’ requests each December. Agencies receiving funds have been thoroughly vetted by the committee, which continues to follow up with the agencies. This collaborative, accountability-based, approach emphasizes year-long stewardship and partnership with organizations that are helping to transform our community.
Agencies must apply every year for support and are selected based on criteria such as:
– Impact on individuals, both givers and receivers
– Alignment with FirstChurch strategic mission
– History/affiliation with FirstChurch
– Efficiency/effectiveness of mission
The Rise Fund has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to support work in the community over its five years in existence. We look forward to seeing what impact our dollars will continue to have in Dallas and beyond. More questions? Please contact Rev. Holly Bandel, Associate Minister for Mission & Advocacy at email@example.com.