UCC Boxborough Shares Fire Response Story at Synod

UCC Boxborough Shares Fire Response Story at Synod

Rev. Cindy Worthington-Berry, pastor of UCC Congregational of Boxborough, MA, shared a story about the church during the OCWM Basic Support Impact Report during General Synod. Her story tells how the church responded to a fire in the community that left 24 families without homes. The church helped organize the community-wide response, that resulted in new homes for the families as well as new community service programs for others.

Read the story below in Rev. Worthington-Berry's words (or watch the video below):
Rev. Cindy Worthington-Berry
On February 10th, a four alarm fire struck a building in Boxborough, Massachusetts. And I'm the pastor of the only faith community in this small town UCC. Boxborough. The night of the fire, I had no idea what to do. So I went to the local hotel where I heard they were sending people. I'm so grateful to say that nobody was hurt in the fire, and even all the pets were rescued. But 24 families were suddenly homeless.

Our church became the frontline of the response. We collaborated with emergency services in the first days, and then other agencies In the weeks and months that followed. We matched families with advocate volunteers to help them through all the recovery efforts. We hosted a pop-up market where families could shop for donated items, and we raised and distributed over a hundred thousand dollars in financial contributions from the community.

There were so many challenges along the way, like learning about the incredible red tape involved in subsidized housing, encouraging well-meaning neighbors to give the help that was needed rather than donations that would create the disaster, after the disaster, all during a pandemic. But it was a broad-based collaboration that's now birthing new programs in our town, including a pop-up market where everyone can come and get food gleaned from grocery stores.

And all this was possible only because of the foundational work that we've been doing as a congregation in the last few years, with the help of what is now the Southern New England Conference of the UCC. We've attended workshops on thinking about our "why." We've read articles on disaster preparedness. We've received training in how to articulate our message to donors.

Most of all we've responded to the United Church of Christ call that the church is not the four walls of our building, but the way we live our faith in the world. Because of what the UCC has offered us for resources, guidance, and inspiration, 24 families now have new homes. 

The video below is an excerpt from the OCWM Basic Support Impact Report:

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