Our congregation is dedicated to social responsibility. This dedication comes out in different ways each year.
Responsibility to Our Community
In 2012, we have had a strong focus on hunger through our Hunger Initiative. We spearheaded a fundraising project in partnership with the owner of Kennebunk’s famous Wedding Cake House. We attracted members of the community to help us give tours of the house to the public seven days a week for a month. This ambitious project raised over $25,000 for local food banks in 2012. For several years, church members have volunteered one day each month to serve meals at the Bon Appetit Soup Kitchen in the nearby city of Biddeford. Throughout the year, we collect non-perishable food for the York County Shelter Food Pantry, and we collect additional holiday food for Thanksgiving.
Our focus on food and hunger is also tied into our environmental concerns. Church members have led Sunday services focused on global warming and the need to support local farmers and food producers. We have also co-sponsored events supporting local organic farmers and sustainable agriculture.
We are a Welcoming Congregation and have been out front in the struggle for equal rights for the LBGT community. Maine has had two referendums on marriage equality, the second one passing in 2012. Locally, our church was central to this effort and rented space to the group that led the successful campaign.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast
For more than 10 years, we have celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr., Day with a breakfast, spirituals sung by our choir and a guest speaker who focuses on justice and equality. This event attracts many from the community and has been particularly meaningful for bi-racial families in the area.
Christmas Gift Tree
Every December the Religious Education Program sponsors a gift tree. Parishioners are greeted with a Christmas tree decorated with colorful cards -- each one inscribed with a child’s wish for a gift. Each of us picks a card and buys the requested item. The children then wrap the gifts, which are delivered to those who wished for them. RE also gets help from parishioners in filling Easter Baskets, which are distributed through Kennebunk’s General Assistance program.
Several members interested in textiles get together to knit and sew, sitting around the big round table in our Library. This handwork is fertile ground for conversation as we make shawls for those who are ill, blankets for children who are ill, and dolls for Haitian children.
Peace has long been a major concern at FPUU. During the two Iraq wars we conducted regular peace vigils along the road in front of the church and held many community forums, discussions, and demonstrations. No doubt, we will be inspired again to march, display banners, and speak out regarding issues relevant to our Seven Principles.
The local chapter of the Sierra Club meets once a month at First Parish, attracting many from the community as well as the congregation. The club offers well-chosen films and panel discussions on environmental issues.