Opening to Our Community
ANNUAL WHITE ELEPHANT SALE
Our annual White Elephant Sale (WES) takes place every July. It’s the sale to beat all garage and rummage sales – the extraordinary annual event that everyone plans their summer around.
This once-a-year tag sale sponsored by the Ladies Benevolent Society (LBS) raises funds for church missions and good works across our area and around the world.
The 2017 WES is over – it was the third-largest sale in our 81-year history! We would like to thank everyone who donated items to the sale this year and the nearly 200 volunteers who helped us make the event a success.
Our church is honored to be the largest host site within the 11-town region served by the Shoreline Soup Kitchens and Pantries ministry. Every Saturday morning, with Shoreline Soup Kitchens as the overseeing body, volunteers help to serve a hot meal in our Fellowship Hall and distribute groceries from the Food Pantry located in the basement of our Meetinghouse.
Members of our congregation also prepare and serve a meal on the last Sunday of each month at the urban New London Community Soup Kitchen. Our mission dollars also support the garden project FRESH New London and its mission to encourage participation in and universal access to a healthful and sustainable local food system. FRESH also helps to provide affordable food to those living in income-subsidized housing in the city of New London.
Our mission dollars also provide help for the Midnight Run, an organization that provides food and clothing to the homeless of New York City. Once or twice every year our teenagers take an active part in this ministry.
MAJOR HOUSING INITIATIVES
Historically our church helped in the founding of the Lyme’s Senior Housing complex located on Route 1 in Old Lyme. We also were initial funders and supporters of the Old Lyme Day Care on Lyme Street. We worked closely with Old Lyme Affordable Housing (now merged into the Hope Partnership of Old Saybrook) which has built three houses in Old Lyme. We have worked with Habitat for Humanity to build a home in Salem, a home in East Lyme, and two houses in the city of New London. In 2012 we worked together with The Homeless Hospitality Center of New London to rehab a home for homeless veterans, known as the Major Edward Good House. In 2012 we helped to fund a Habitat home in Lyme. Our most exciting house-building project surely was our partnership with The Jimmy Carter Work Project of 2002, held in Durban, South Africa, when 100 homes were built in one week’s time. Over two thousand volunteers from around the world met in Durban that week in June, and our church raised over $50,000 that year to become a sponsor of that event. 2 8 members and friends of our congregation travelled to Durban and took part in that memorable “build.”
SUPPORT FOR THOSE IN SPECIAL NEED
Our church contributes annually to the support of the Homeless Hospitality Center of New London, as well as the Covenant Shelter and the Truman Street Meal Site in that city. Additionally, we give support to the Thames River Housing Project and the Martin House, both located in Norwich. We also work with and support SAFE FUTURES, run by the Women’s Center in New London, which offers safe haven to women and children threatened by domestic violence. We are supporters and contributors to the York Prison ministry in Niantic, and to the NEW LIFE MINSTRY, an outreach chaired by Christ the King Roman Catholic Church of Old Lyme, that provides transitional housing to women being released from the York Prison for Women. In 2016, our church benevolence budget donated more than $30,000 to the above agencies in New London County for the support of those in critical need.
ADDITIONAL GIFTS AND SUPPORT
Our benevolence budget also supports local Literacy Volunteer agencies and hospital chaplaincy programs at Lawrence Memorial and Middlesex Hospitals. We support a food project in Ecuador, a housing and work project in India, and are proud funders of IRIS, the refugee organization based in New Haven, Ct. that helped us in bringing our Syrian refugee family to our own community. We also support the work of the United Church of Christ, of which we are a proud member. When our budget allows, we make additional gifts to IRC of New York City, the Carter Center of Atlanta, and the FINCA international micro-lending project. There are other annual gifts, all listed comprehensively below.
The purpose of the Ladies Benevolent Society is to cultivate the Spirit of Christ in every area of human life and to enlist the community in a fellowship of worship, education, service, and giving, to support the programs of The First Congregational Church, Old Lyme, Connecticut, as it serves in the communality, the state, and throughout the world.
LBS has developed entertaining programs for men and women of our congregation and the community. We have educational and diverse programs and seek local speakers and entertainers. Our monthly luncheons and programs have been consistent in attendance, and we are serving delicious meals for $5.00.The outstanding, exciting and successful annual White Elephant Sale makes this possible.
The LBS continues to partner with Christian Education and our families and their children-in the Sunday School. We are happy to be able to support their programs financially. Our “Tools of Hope and Blankets” drive for Church World Service has provided blankets, tools, tents, emergency supplies, etc. all over the world.
The LBS fund meals through the “Care Connection” for local families in time of need. Homemade soups, bread and casseroles are prepared by church members for this program. Church plates and pitchers continue to be sold, and the profit is donated to the summer camp fund for the Storefront school children.