UUFP—Past/Present/Future: “Service”

“UUFP—Past/Present/Future”
is a collection of stories
about UUFP’s formative years and
its ensuing perseverance in purpose, mission and ministry.
Grow in Wonder – Connect in Love – Engage in Service – Inspire Generosity

It was our tenth anniversary hosting a week of PORT, the overnight Winter shelter serving people in need of food and shelter on the Peninsula.  We’d long settled into good, loving way of offering this service, building on our previous reputation as one of the congregations offering the best-tasting and most nutritious meals!  But this tenth anniversary was special, now that we were able to host PORT ourselves, all made possible by the industrial kitchen, bathrooms with showers, and flexible spaces that could be set up as dormitories of our church building.

UUFP members who helped prepare both dinner and sleeping spaces sat down to eat with our clients, catching up with some we’d met before and otherwise getting to know our neighbors.  Thanks to our experiences in Fellowship Circles, still growing after all these years, particularly after we began offering it beyond our walls to benefit the wider community, we spent more time listening than speaking, offering compassion and comfort rather than advice.  A special treat this evening, though, was that the UUFP’s social justice rock band was playing, offering us a medley of up-beat favorites that lifted our spirits as much as the food nourished our bodies.

Then came a big announcement.  The mayor herself stood up to congratulate us on this milestone, thanking us, too, for all of the work we had done to drive local implementation of the Green New Deal’s programs to reduce homelessness, food insecurity and poverty.  “Our friends at LINK,” the mayor said, “tell me that these programs have already halved the number of clients coming to PORT, but I reaffirm your commitment,” she emphasised, “to continue serving our neighbors in need until the day soon comes when there is no longer anyone in such need.”  We all cheered, of course, because as much as we were glad to be able to provide this service, we had also pledged ourselves to help make Hampton Roads a place where such a service wasn’t needed.

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