What is OCWM and Why Should We Care?
By Rev. Mark Kuether (with much appreciation to Diann Anders)
"What is OCWM?" could well be a question in a United Church of Christ trivia contest, a question many of us, even longtime members, might not be able to answer correctly. OCWM (Our Church's Wider Mission) is an important part of the covenant which binds individual members, congregations, Conferences and the National setting together to form the United Church of Christ.
OCWM is the annual contribution congregations make to the UCC, through our local Minnesota Conference, in order to fund all the resources, from raising up prophetic voices on the state and national level to facilitating structures and alliances that amplify the justice work of United Church of Christ congregations and members.
As a congregation rich in resources, both financial and human, The Congregational UCC in Detroit Lakes could find it easy to minimize its relation to the wider church and be a beacon on its own little hill, but by maintaining a strong commitment to the UCC, both by strong support of OCWM and by the efforts of individual members actively engaged in wider church ministries, we honor our covenant. With the assistance of OCWM, members of the UCC gave scholarships to 32 theological and medical students in China and Africa, offered 87 mission trips within the USA (attended by 3,354 volunteers), developed the "White Privilege: Let's Talk" curriculum that was downloaded 3,475 times from the UCC website, endorsed and credentialed 55 military chaplains, provided micro-loans in Africa that assisted 350 families, and so much more. As one OCWM brochure puts it: "In isolation, no single UCC congregation can be the church the world needs today. To be that world-transforming church, we work together through Our Church's Wider Mission to support and inspire each other."
While Special Offerings (Neighbors in Need, One Great Hour of Sharing, Strengthen the Church, The Christmas Fund) provide opportunities for individual members to contribute to the work of the wider UCC and its ecumenical partners, OCWM is the vehicle for us as a congregation to live out our covenantal promise of support. So, when you see OCWM as a line item in our budget, rejoice both because you know what OCWM is and, more importantly, because you belong, through The Congregational UCC of Detroit Lakes, to a much larger and more world-transforming church, the United Church of Christ.