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Find Hope Now

Updated: Jul 8




One of the more compelling moments of the Southern New England Conference of the United Church of Christ Annual Gathering was the presentation from our Executive Conference Minister, Rev. Darrell Goodwin, about his Find Hope Now Initiative.  Darrell likes to share his story of driving down the interstate and seeing a billboard offering “the truth” about the Bible, with an accompanying phone number.  But when you called the number, or found the associated website, you’d be connected with a church that was anything but welcoming.  In that moment of seeing the billboard, Darrell wondered, “what if we did that, too?  What if we were advertising more about the wonderful and welcoming churches across the Southern New England Conference?”


That was the birth of the Find Hope Now Initiative.  Over the ensuing months, Darrell worked with other conference staff to develop the initiative, starting with a website.  You can now visit FindHopeNow.org as a website that not only tells more about the welcoming presence of the United Church of Christ across Southern New England, but also offers a church finder, with a link to every church across the Southern New England Conference, including First Parish, so that anyone can find a welcoming church wherever they are in Massachusetts, Connecticut, or Rhode Island.


But, as Darrell mentioned, the website was just the beginning.  Soon, the conference started advertising for the website across social media and tracked the numbers in response.  The results are amazing to think about.  In just one month, from mid-May to mid-June of this year, the website welcomed over 10,000 visitors, with over 130,000 clicks to individual churches from the webpage’s church directory.


And the initiative continues!  The conference will continue with this advertising and encouraged individuals and churches to not only share the advertisements throughout social media, but to also engage with advertisements, especially to offer more love in the comments as hate groups find the advertisements to offer harmful words.


But then, later this year, the resources the conference is developing as a part of this initiative will be available to individual churches to use for free.  We’ll be able to use their social media advertising templates and incorporate our own name, logo, images, and ideas to not only further spread the word about First Parish, but to help connect us to the other local UCC churches in our area and across the conference.  Then, starting in the fall, the conference will be offering training through Project Proclaim, another new initiative from the conference to help churches learn how to better tell their own stories and welcome new members.


This is just a part of what the conference does with the money we send them through our annual giving, and just some of the resources we receive in return.  I hope you’re as excited as I am about sharing more of our church’s story in our community and connecting it with the stories the more than 600 churches across our conference are also sharing in their communities.  Together, we can accomplish the vision that stared with Darrell’s journey on the interstate: to offer hope to the people that need it most, when they need it most, as we continue to share the love of God with each other and with the world.


If you’d like to learn more about the Find Hope Now Initiative, you can visit FindHopeNow.org, or read more about Darrell’s presentation from the annual meeting at https://www.sneucc.org/newsdetail/goodwin-report-find-hope-now-website-seen-more-than-10-000-times-18407624.


Pastor JT

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