Five parish volunteers from First Congregational Church of Hanover joined Rev. Peter Johnston in an emergency relief effort to provide food and clothing for an influx of unhoused individuals and families to the communities of Kingston and Plymouth, courtesy images
McGRATHPR.com – Members of First Congregational Church Hanover (FCCH) instantly mobilized yesterday to answer the regional call to support the sudden arrival of more than 100 unhoused individuals on the South Shore. Divided into two groups, the arrivals include more than 60 children, transported with little notice to temporary locations in Kingston and Plymouth by the MA Department of Community and Development (MDHD), under its emergency shelter and assistance programs. Many are undocumented immigrants originating from Haiti or Central America, who speak little or no English.
“The call came from our regional UCC minister,” shares Rev. Peter Johnston, lead pastor of FCCH. “There was no question that we would immediately assemble and help. We serve as a community that welcomes all, and this was an opportunity to fulfill that commitment, ignite compassion and propel our faith into action.”
Rev. Johnston noted that the assistance request originated from United Church of Christ’s (UCC) Southern New England Conference (SNEUCC), of which FCCH is a member parish. He was informed that the unhoused were relocated to temporary locations, with 27 families diverted to Kingston and 12 families to Plymouth. With the region’s established shelters full and services tapped due to high demand for housing, those transported were in immediate need of meals, clothing and diapers. He immediately took action, reaching out to five FCCH parishioners who jumped at the opportunity to assist and volunteer their efforts to make a difference.
After contacting FCCH’s diaconate, the church’s Outreach and Service Ministry, and speaking with Hanover Food Pantry Director Sally Boutin, Rev. Johnston coordinated a food pantry pickup of donated groceries and coats. He then mobilized the volunteers to meet him at the church’s kitchen. Spanning just a few short hours, the group of half a dozen transformed the groceries into a substantial prepared hot meal, packaging many servings of barbecue chicken, rice, corn and freshly baked cookies. They group loaded the food and coats into vehicles, creating a delivery caravan, and headed to the Plymouth site.
“Our efforts have just begun. We’ve been in contact with other Southern New England Conference churches and are coordinating lunches and hot dinners to be delivered through Sunday night,” shared Rev. Johnston. Another local UCC church is coordinating meals for the group settled in Kingston. Today, FCCH volunteers are gathering more coats, as well as preparing, packing, and delivering 50 lunches to the same Plymouth location.
Pausing a moment to reflect on the sudden call to serve, and the overwhelmingly immediate response by parish volunteers, Rev. Johnston commented, “Jesus didn’t feed people based on their life circumstances, Jesus fed people because they were hungry.”
To make a financial contribution to assist in FCCH’s effort to support unhoused families and individuals, visit fcchanover.org/give-gift, click the “other” category, and note the intent for your donation in the comment field. To learn about FCCH’s charitable initiatives, to participate, or to learn more about the parish, visit fcchanover.org or follow First Congregational Church of Hanover on Facebook or Instagram.
About First Congregational Church of Hanover
Founded in 1728, First Congregational Church of Hanover (FCCH) was established about the same time that the town of Hanover was incorporated. A United Church of Christ (UCC) parish, First Congregational Church of Hanover has long been a leader in equality. FCCH is committed to serve as a community of inclusive love that has no walls or barriers, where all who enter are loved, respected, and accepted for who they are, reaching beyond social class, gender, race, and sexual orientation, welcoming all. It is a community of growth and transformation, reaching beyond the status quo as a community filled with the love and compassion of Christ, invoking our faith into action and prayer daily.
First Congregational Church of Hanover’s sanctuary is located at 547 Hanover Street, Hanover. FCCH offices are located at Riley Hall, 17 Silver Street, Hanover. For more information, call 781-826-4762, visit fcchanover.org or follow First Congregational Church of Hanover on Facebook or Instagram.