Justice and compassion

The Justice and Compassion Ministry Team coordinates the efforts of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church to help those in need. 

Along with other groups in the church and local and international community partner organizations, our goal is to find ways to work in solidarity with those who are hungry or otherwise in need. We feed the homeless and food insecure, provide school supplies for area children, support those affected by disaster, organize Volunteers-in-Mission trips, and help refugees beginning new lives in the community. 

We invite you to join us in helping others as an expression of our faith. There are many opportunities for service at St. Paul’s, and many ways in which you can participate in ongoing efforts and upcoming projects.


To learn more, contact Anne and Phil Rush, Justice & Compassion Ministry Team Leaders.

BackPack Build

Drop-Off Supplies: 

Sunday, July 23

8:30-10:00 a.m.

Town Hall Parking Lot

(across from St. Paul's Mitchell Street office door)

Our Justice & Compassion team is partnering with Interfaith Works again in 2020 to get new school supplies to disadvantaged children for the start of school. 

For many years, St. Paul's generous members and friends have supported the Interfaith Works school supply drive, stuffing backpacks full of necessary school supplies to Montgomery County families who would struggle to source everything themselves. In 2017, 2018, and 2019, we donated over 100 packed bags, requiring two SUVs to deliver all the donations! This school year in 2020, of course, will look very different -- but students still need essential items to succeed.

St. Paul's will hold a no-contact outdoor drop off (weather permitting) on Sunday August 23, to coincide with the outdoor worship service. The current plan will have bins available in the parking lot at Town Hall, 8:30-10:00 a.m.

Don't feel like venturing out, but still looking to contribute? Interfaith Works also has an Amazon "Wish List" available here: https://tinyurl.com/yy2ym4lt You can purchase requested items through Amazon and select the wish list address at checkout to have it shipped directly to Interfaith Works.  

Interfaith Works is requesting the following NEW items:

  • Spiral notebooks
  • Composition notebooks
  • Loose leaf filler paper (wide ruled)
  • 3-ring pencil pouches (that can be placed within a binder)
  • Highlighters
  • Pens (blue or black)
  • Pocket folders with fasteners
  • Colored pencils (pre-sharpened)
  • Markers
  • Rulers
  • Pencil boxes or pouches
  • Erasers
  • Scissors
  • Binder dividers
  • 2-inch 3-ring binders
  • 24-pack crayons
  • Small white boards (lap size)
  • Dry-erase markers

Financial contributions are always welcome throughout the year and will be put toward purchasing additional supplies. Make checks payable to St. Paul’s UMC with “Backpacks” on the memo line.

If you have questions, please contact Erin in the church office (stpaulsunited@stpaulsk.org) or Backpack Build coordinator Angela Harvey.

Pastor Pat's Message At the Kensington March and Rally

See below for the full video, shot Saturday, June 6, 2020.


The Better Humans Book Club

The Reconciling Steering Committee and Justice & Compassion Team are co-hosting The Better Humans Book Club in 2020, part of our congregation’s six-month series of events designed to help us critically examine the community we offer those within and outside St. Paul’s UMC. This book club is open to everyone. Childcare will be provided upon request; email Travis Stalcup or contact the church office. We will meet 7:00-8:30 PM in the Parlor. Below is a list of dates and books. Please read more about each selection and find up-to-date information about how to join the discussions on our The Way Forward page.

• January 15: God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships by Matthew Vines

• February 10: How to Be An Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi

• March - Rescheduled due to corona virus - Transforming: The Bible and the Lives of Transgender Christians by Austen Hartke

• April: Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces that Keep Us Apart by Christena Cleveland

• May: The Devil’s Highway: A True Story by Luis Alberto Urrea

Nicaragua VIM

St. Paul's has an annual tradition of supporting a Volunteers In Mission team each summer, taking a team to Nicaragua in early August. However, because of recent political unrest in Nicaragua, we decided to cancel the 2018 and 2019 VIM trips. Although the entire team was heartbroken about this, we feel it was the right decision.

We have been involved in the building of two new CICOs (community preschools). By 2018, construction had been completed and we were going to put the finishing, beautifying, and practical touches on them such as brightly colored paint, murals, and ceiling fans. 

Fear not, those finishing touches happened without us so the schools could get up and running! We are so appreciative if you donated toward the 2018 trip. Know that your contributions have been sent to the community preschools to cover the costs of supplies and labor. 

We all hope and pray that the turmoil comes to a peaceful resolution and that we will be able to offer a trip in the summer of 2020. Thank you, again, for your continued prayers and faithful support of this important ministry. Please contact Athena Gaalswyk if you have any questions.

Previous Events

Vigil for Racial Justice: June 7, 2020. Standing peacefully (and, due to COVID-19, with masks, signs, and 6-feet of space in between families), participants lined Connecticut Ave near Chevy Chase Circle to show support for racial justice. Friends of St. Paul's joined this peaceful vigil with our friends in faith from these sponsoring congregations: Congregation Beth El, Bethesda United Methodist, St. Luke's Episcopal, Saint Mark Presbyterian, Chevy Chase United Methodist, Bethesda Presbyterian, Chevy Chase Presbyterian, Bradley Hills Presbyterian.

Donations for Migrant Children: July 31, 2019. When migrants are released from detention centers run by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, they have nothing (even their shoelaces are taken from them). They then go to respite centers nearby for help. In support of KindWorks, a local 501(c)3, and Catholic Charities Diocese of Laredo and the Rio Grande, we invited donations of essential toiletry and hygiene products for children ages 5 months to 17 years, which will be distributed at respite centers in the border area run by Catholic Charities.

Capitol Pride Parade: June 8, 2019. Members from the J&C committee participated in this DC parade in solidarity with and in support of our LGBTQ+ friends, and as a way of carrying the message of Jesus's radical love for all into this public space.

United to Love Rally: August 12, 2018. August 12, 2018 marked the anniversary of a 2017 gathering of white supremacists in Charlottesville, Va., during which a counter-protester was killed. As part of a prayerful response and call to action, the Baltimore-Washington Conference of The United Methodist Church hosted the rally "United to Love: Rally for Love, Peace, and Justice" on Sunday, August 12, 2018, from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., on the National Mall at 4th Street NW (near the Capitol Reflecting Pool and the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian). The 11:00 hour included a service of worship with Bishop LaTrelle Easterling, with the rally itself following, in the same location, at 1:00 p.m.

Meet the Missionaries

The Justice & Compassion Team welcomed missionaries Nan McCurdy & Miguel Mairena at a pot-luck dinner in Heavener Hall on Wednesday, April 18, 2018. St. Paul’s has been supporting Nan & Miguel in their work for many years. They discussed their past, present, and future projects with us. 

Starting in Fall 2018, Miguel & Nan joined the team at Give Ye Them to Eat (GYTTE), a group founded in 1977 by Mexican Methodists and missionaries. The goal of GYTTE is to work with marginalized communities on sustainable development that will improve food security, housing, and overall health.  

GYTTE has offices in Puebla, Mexico but the majority of Miguel & Nan’s work will be in a remote town called Tlancualpican, which was at the center of a recent earthquake and saw the destruction of many homes. Besides learning appropriate agricultural and technological practices, the people of Tlancualpican are learning to make earthquake-resistant “straw-bale” homes, one of many alternative construction methods that uses sustainable, locally-sourced construction materials.

GYTTE also has a dedicated training center and test farm in the near-desert climate outside Puebla. There GYTTE facilitates Community Health Worker certifications, training on how to raise and care for livestock, workshops on how to build everything from solar cookers to water-free composting toilets, and much more. GYTTE serves as host for VIM-type groups working in Mexico. Part of the GYTTE mission also includes providing for “the spiritual growth of the Methodist congregations through training events and retreats for laity, clergy, youth, and adults, as well as the production and distribution of Christian Education Materials.” To read more, visit: www.gytte.org

Previously, Miguel & Nan spent 15 years in Nicaragua. In 2017, they came back to the United States on a year-long assignment as Mission Advocates for the Western Jurisdiction in the United States where they helped train and prepare new missionaries whose field assignments will be anywhere from 2 months to 2 years. One of the missionary teams Miguel & Nan worked especially closely with are the first Cuban Methodists sent as missionaries, Leo Garcia and Cleivy Benitez. Miguel & Nan enjoyed sharing their wisdom with Leo & Cleivy, who were medical doctors before feeling called to missionary work and who now serve as pastors and teachers in the Quéssua Mission, one of the oldest Methodist Missions on the continent of Africa, and are “Papi and Mami” to about 60 boys at the orphanage there.  

Miguel & Nan themselves participated in training sessions with the Disaster Response Task Force. In a newsletter to supporters, Nan wrote: “Miguel finished his Emergency Response Teams (ERT) certification last August and was part of the first ERT after Hurricane Harvey to reach the Rio-Texas Conference. Together with twelve others from California-Pacific and Desert Southwest, he worked with homeowners on five homes over nine days in the area of Victoria, Texas.” Despite a quick response, the full recovery process can be slow for families already struggling to make ends meet or those without insurance. Nan explained, “In a year, or two, or three, UMC construction teams will help families rebuild their homes.”

Miguel & Nan also spent time in the winter of 2018 at the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota to meet with and support the Lakota Sioux in their ongoing struggle to protect their source of clean water and their sacred land.

Miguel Mairena and Nan McCurdy are directly supported by offerings made to the United Methodist Church’s Global Ministries missions programs through The Advance, the UMC’s official channel for collecting and distributing donations. If you would like to make a donation towards their work, checks may be made payable to St. Paul’s UMC with the memo line marked “Miguel & Nan.” Their designated Advance ID’s are: #12877Z (Miguel) or #10801Z (Nan).

Ministry Partner Highlight:

InterFaith Works

Interfaith Works, founded in 1972, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit agency and a non-sectarian interfaith coalition of more than 165 affiliated congregations of diverse faiths, working together to meet the needs of the poor and homeless in Montgomery County, Md. Their trained, professional staff members and volunteers work with individuals and families in crisis to help equip them to lift themselves from poverty and homelessness through prevention, stabilization, and empowerment programs.

To get involved directly with Interfaith Works, visit: http://www.iworksmc.org/getinvolved/

On any given day, 981 people in Montgomery County are homeless, including 230 children. Almost 72,000 Montgomery County residents are living on annual incomes below the Federal poverty line, and 19,757 of these residents are children. The IW Women's Center Shelter, Men's Shelter, clothing center, educational, job readiness, and family programs serve those most at risk in our community.

  • BackPack Build

    In August of 2017, 2018, and 2019, St Paul’s did a fabulous job packing over 100 backpacks each year for local school children in need. We packed binders, dividers, pocket folders, pencil pouches/boxes, colored pencils, markers, highlighters, scissors, and rulers in the backpacks. We were also able to provide crayons, filler paper, pencils, erasers and pencil sharpeners. It now takes 2 SUVs to transport everything to Interfaith Works! Many thanks to all members of St Paul’s for their generosity, love, and support, and special thanks is due to annual Backpack Build coordinators Leigha Gordillo and Angela Harvey!

  • IW Women's Center NeeDS

    On June 12, 2017 the sewer line failed at the new Interfaith Works Women’s Center in Rockville and flooded the Rose Room dorm where 19 shelter residents sleep each night. All items that were contaminated by sewage had to be discarded, including residents’ clothing, documents, personal care items, and irreplaceable keepsakes. The losses turned what was meant to be a time of healing for residents into a stressful ordeal. Office equipment was also damaged, offices were rendered temporarily non-functional, water service had to be shut off entirely, and all 70 residents had to be relocated from Rockville to the Interfaith Works Empowerment Center in Silver Spring. Clean-up and repairs are still underway.

    Due to the nature of this emergency, St. Paul’s UMC responded to the IWWC request for monetary donations to help address specific needs quickly and efficiently. Through a special offering, our generous donors provided almost $4,000 towards this effort. With our help, they were able to help women in the shelter replace lost items, pay for equipment repairs, and restore a safe, clean, and beautiful facility for residents.