Julie Lends Her Hand

Julie Lends Her Hand
You don’t need to look very far to see the some compelling evidence for Goal 1 of the capital campaign: dingy walls, unglazed window panes, an awkward chancel configuration which makes performances challenging, a cantankerous sound system, and carpet in a worn-out martini olive pattern.  

We can get behind the idea of a new entrance that enhances our welcoming presence and dealing with deferred maintenance is obvious—you need only look at the windowsills of the Fox Building for evidence of that.

No, I’m thinking if there’s something you wonder about the capital campaign, it’s Goal 2, “Exploring Options for Outreach Ministries.”  I have been involved in Old First’s Outreach Ministries for almost 30 years, initially as an infant volunteer (ok, college-aged, whatever) and later director of Outreach Programs, and always as an enthusiastic supporter of these ministries.  

I am acutely aware that my work with Old First’s outreach programs made an enormous difference in my life and shaped the person I am today, from my choice of cities in which to live to my career path.  It’s also why I am a member of Old First today, why my kids are being raised in this congregation, why my parents are here. In fact, I sometimes think that my parents relocation here from Ohio had more to do with Old First than with my family living here!  

I am pretty sure there are lots of similar stories from past volunteers, whether long-term volunteers or weekend service camp participants, and from the thousands of folks we have served in our shelter, food and clothing cupboard, and summer and after school programs… stories about how Old First’s outreach programs have made a difference in people’s lives.

But you shouldn’t support the capital campaign’s second goal because Outreach Programs have been so important to me and all those other people in the past.  You should support it because in many ways, we are doing lots of the same work we were doing 30 years ago, and the underlying issues we have been addressing have only intensified.

Just as Old First led the way as the first church in the city to open its doors to Bethesda Program’s emergency winter shelter program, we need to lead the way in addressing current issues in homelessness, poverty, and education in our city.

We have always been a congregation that takes risks, and our Outreach Ministries are poised to take the next steps in faith.  

I’m not talking about just tinkering around the edges of what we already do.  I’m talking about committing, the kind of commitment that required when you “put your money where your mouth is.”  

I can tell you that it’s really hard to think outside the box when you are working every day like crazy just to keep the box from collapsing.  We work really hard to maintain our current programs.  We have incredibly committed volunteers and staff.  We have programs that are making a tangible difference in our city.  

To be able to figure out where we go from here, we must have the funds to explore the possibilities, the support we need to think outside the box.

That’s why I am putting my hand and heart into this capital campaign—and I hope you will too.

— Julie Steiner