The following was written by Barbara Beeman and shared here with her permission:
It is a truth long understood by most that you remember the way someone made you feel over everything else about them. The doors of our First Congregation Church, UCC have welcomed our community friends from every walk of life.
God’s communion Table is open to all without exception with its nurturing sustenance and forgiveness. So many of us have come from other faith walks but have found spiritual connection, God’s presence without the dogma, embraced by the”sweet, sweet spirit” in this place.
Our presence in the Winona community and beyond supports people burdened with illness, food insecurity and isolating loneliness. Card Club also known as Congo Outreach extends its hand to members, friends, and strangers with the beauty of a card infused with caring and prayerful messages of support that are not discarded but treasured for a future hug. Our Soup-er Thursday lunch invites all to a nutritious and delicious meal with friendship and fellowship. Many of you here today make our kitchen hum in the creation and serving of Soup-er Thursday. Great smells and laughter make the labor sweet. Many of our participants are not members but friends of our church which makes them family! Cafe Congo and its inclusive welcome of talent and guests to support a good cause goes a long way to share with our church family and our town.
Pastor Danielle Bartz has dramatically opened our vision and enhanced our future influence in Winona and beyond as we link arms with other churches and organizations to empower justice and fairness for all. Discussion gatherings focusing on issues of the moment and enlightening books have begun. We are growing; our Sunday School is blooming; our choirs of adults and children combine to fill my spiritual batteries. Our Pastor’s sermons leave me, and Mom when she can attend, renewed with positive enthusiasm even in these tricky times.
Our Vision Statement, We welcome all; We agree to differ; We resolve to love; We unite to serve doesn’t always mean that we always see eye to eye but it does unite us in the effort to move forward together in love. My experience in this wonderful place is priceless. It is an investment in all I love and it is sustenance for my soul. Please do all you can to add your breath to the fire glowing brightly at the corner of Broadway and Johnson. Thank you!