Justice and compassion

Please see the sections below for our current activities.

Leaders serving our Ministry Table coordinate the efforts of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church to help those in need and to build a more just community. We seek to be the hands and feet of Christ in the world today.

Our projects have helped to feed the homeless and food insecure, provide school supplies for area children, support those affected by disaster, organize Volunteers-in-Mission trips, advocate for inclusion of historically marginalized peoples, 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 short term projects.


To learn more, contact Grace Graham directly or contact the church office at stpaulsunited@stpaulsk.org.

New Books WAnted

June 16-July 7, 2024

Help feed the minds of those in prison at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility (MCCF). We seek NEW or "Like New" gently used current best-sellers and popular authors (like Stephen King, James Patterson, or Nora Roberts), and nonfiction published in the last five years.

The MCCF Library provides access to recreational, educational, and legal materials to improve and enrich the lives of those in the facility and to support successful community reentry. The library holds approximately 15,000 books, including materials in several languages. Inmates visit the library on a rotating schedule to borrow books and to do legal research. Although the library receives some books from the Montgomery County Public Library, those who are incarcerated at MCCF consistently request mass-market fiction and recent non-fiction.

There are two ways to participate:


1) Drop off books on the table in the Narthex between June 16 and July 7th. We can only accept books in new or gently used condition. 

2) Donate money to St. Paul's to purchase books online using the Miscellaneous option at stpaulsk.org/giving or by check made out to St. Paul's UMC. Include "Prison Books" in the memo line or "designated fund or cause" box.

Support for Key Bridge Victims

The tragedy of the Key Bridge collapse has left eight families without financial support. The families of those who were rescued and the families of those who perished find themselves in a place they never imagined. We can help! Now through Sunday April 28, 2024 you are invited to make a donation through our church giving platform, or by check/money order, or cash towards this effort. 

For online giving, select the one time giving option and specify your donation for Key Bridge victims. If giving by check or money order please note Key Bridge victims in the memo line. If giving by cash, please include a note in or on the envelope stating your donation is for the Key Bridge victims. 

It doesn’t have to happen in our neighborhood for us to be of help! While monetary support can never replace the loss of a loved one, we can help ease the burden of those affected by this tragedy. St. Paul’s will ensure funds reach the families through established groups officially recognized by Baltimore to aid Key Bridge victims’ families.

Click the button to go to our Miscellaneous donations page.

Miscellaneous Donations

Shelter Meals in 2024

It has been a long tradition at St. Paul’s UMC to prepare and serve meals and fill the pantry of the shelters operated by Interfaith Works, a consortium of over 300 social and religious organizations that serve here in Montgomery County. That tradition includes many St. Paul's groups – among them women’s circles, the United Methodist Men, the choir, the Justice & Compassion Committee, confirmands – helping the women’s shelters in Rockville. Our efforts range from supplying toiletries to assembling bagged lunches to preparing and serving in-person hot dinners. 


Taft Court Shelter Meals and Crabb Way Shelter Supplies

St. Paul's coordinator for this Shelter Meals outreach effort is Lyn Walker. Anyone who would like to join the members & friends already committed to this initiative should contact Lyn directly or email the church office at stpaulsunited@stpaulsk.org to get in touch. 

Volunteers can shop for supplies, make deliveries to the shelters, or prepare salads, entrees, pastas, boil eggs, cut up oranges, etc. Please let Lyn know if you wish to serve!

We are pleased to share our Interfaith Works Shelter projects with our friends at St. Patrick's Catholic Church.

BackPack Build

Our Justice & Compassion team partners with Interfaith Works to get new school supplies to disadvantaged children for the start of school. Thank you for donating NEW school supplies to serve families would would otherwise struggle to source these items themselves.

Thanks to all our members and friends who filled the bins with new school supplies and who donated generously so we could purchase additional supplies. Donations are welcome year-round. Click here to go to the Miscellaneous Donations section of the Giving page; type in "Backpacks" in the field for "Designated Fund or Cause." To donate by check, make checks payable to St. Paul's with "Backpacks" in the memo line.

Since 2017, St. Paul's generous members and friends have supported the Interfaith Works school supply drive annually. Each year, we've donated over 100 backpacks' worth of school supplies to help Interfaith Works meet their county-wide goal of serving 2,500 disadvantaged students. If you have questions, please contact Erin in the church office (stpaulsunited@stpaulsk.org) or Backpack Build coordinator Angela Harvey directly.

Letter to save Moses African CEmetery

Justice & Compassion invites you to help save the historic Moses African Cemetery. This cemetery, which served as a burial ground for enslaved persons and after the Civil War for a thriving African American community located on River Road, is at risk of being desecrated by development. 

On Sunday, March 12, you will have the opportunity to add your signature to a letter to Montgomery County leaders urging them to abide by previous county policy to preserve the cemetery. 

The letter will be available for signature in the Octagon following the 9:00 church service and during Sipping Ministry after the 10:30 service, which J&C will sponsor. You can also click HERE to view the letter.

You also have the opportunity to write your own letter as part of Bethesda African Cemetery Coalition's (BACC) campaign to raise 100 voices in support of the cemetery. 

For more information on BACC and the Moses African Cemetery and how you can lend your support, visit https://bethesdaafricancemeterycoalition.net/. 

ASSistance for Migrants in DC

The Baltimore-Washington area is receiving a new influx of thousands of legal migrants from the Southern Border. Since April, the governors of Texas and Arizona have transported more than 7,200 legal immigrants to Washington, D.C. This is in retaliation to the Biden Administration's commitment in April 2022 to end Title 42, a discriminatory policy that prevented migrants from declaring asylum at the US/Mexico border. This political tactic of dumping busloads of people each day, some of whom have traveled hundreds of miles under difficult conditions, off at Union Station has become perilous. Secular and religious groups like Capitol Hill UMC have stepped up to lend assistance to the legal migrants, who arrive with only one plastic bag for their belongings. Some are wearing only flip-flops. Many travel with children. All are unsure of their next steps. 

Capitol Hill UMC is one of six faith communities within walking distance of Union Station. When the immigrants arrive, they offer respite. But serious financial assistance is needed.

Just $25 will provide a night in a shelter, a shower and meal for one person. The church is also working with several secular groups to assist migrants with travel arrangements. 

You can donate

  • Give online at https://www.bwcumc.org/migrantcrisisdonations
  • Text MIGRANT to (410) 220-2402;
  • Mail a check made payable to “BWC Treasurer” with “migrant” in the memo field to the Baltimore-Washington Conference Center, 11711 E Market Place, Suite 1, Fulton, MD, 20759 ATTN: Dr. Emma Escobar.
  • Donations will be used to buy razors, shaving cream, toothbrushes, deodorant, baby wipes, underwear, bras, socks, and white t-shirts.
  • Backpacks for adults - contact Capitol Hill UMC directly: CHUMC, 421 Seward Sq SE, Washington, DC 20003, phone 202-546-1000, email Rev. Stephanie Vader: revvader@chumc.net

Click to visit https://www.bwcumc.org/news-and-views/capitol-hill-umc-and-bwc-join-network-to-welcome-busloads-of-migrants/ and read more about how Capitol Hill UMC responds to the arrivals.

Volunteers to assist with this ministry are also being sought. 

For more information, contact the Rev. Neal Christie, BWC’s director of Connected Engagement: 

nchristie@bwcumc.org or 202-285-4544

Aid for Ukraine

In addition to the work of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), direct aid is currently being provided to the people of Ukraine by St. Andrew Ukranian Orthodox Cathedral, a local church serving the Washington DC community since 1949. 

St. Andrew is accepting donations of specific items for which there is a need and which they can distribute through their network.  Please visit https://www.standrewuoc.org/ for current news, their up-to-date Amazon wish list, drop-off hours, fundraising opportunities, and other updates. 

Past aCtivities

Scroll down for descriptions and details about some previous projects undertaken by St. Paul's J&C Team and many friends.

Trip to the National Museum of African American History and Culture

This enlightening experience was held Saturday, May 18, 2024 as members and friends explored this important institution dedicated to documenting African American life, history, and culture. For more details, please contact Rachel Stalcup directly or the church office (stpaulsunited@stpaulsk.org) for Rachel's email.

Make a Prom Dream come True

Montgomery County Recreation’s Project Prom Dress program collects gently used and new dresses, tuxedos, suits, and accessories to enable all county high school students to realize the dream of attending their prom. The Justice and Compassion Ministry Team collected formal wear in March of 2023. The clothes were then dry cleaned and presented in a special free boutique at the Praisner Community Recreation center on April 15. Praisner’s Project Prom Dress seeks to eliminate the financial obstacle of attending prom, which turns out to be, for many students, one of the most memorable days of high school. WPGC 95.5 FM is co-sponsoring the event. Read some of the past news stories about Project Prom Dress at these links:

Movie Screening:


Sunday, February 12, 2023

The Justice & Compassion team held a free screening of Till. This 2022 film is a profoundly emotional and cinematic feature that tells the true story of Mamie Till Mobley's relentless pursuit of justice for her 14 year old son, Emmett Till, who, in 1955, was brutally lynched while visiting his cousins in Mississippi. In Mamie's poignant journey of grief turned to action, we see the power of a mother's ability to change the world. This event is BYOL - Bring Your Own Lunch.

Presentation of this copyrighted work is covered under the following license:

CVLI license #504381830

FLash Coat Drive

Following the devastating earthquake in southern Turkey, survivors struggled with frigid temperatures and winter weather. J&C member Travis Stalcup delivered St. Paul's donations to the collection point set up at the Turkish Embassy in Washington DC. On February 12, 2023, we collected items including:

- Blankets

- Tents

- Sleeping bags

- Pocket warmers

- Winter clothing (jackets, gloves, headgear)

- Over-the-counter medications for flu, cold, and pain killers (in plastic zip-lock bag with a list of contents).

MLK Jr. Day of Service

"Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'"

 - Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

January 16, 2023

Sessions: morning (8:30 AM to 12:30 PM) and afternoon (12:30 to 4:30 PM)

Glen Mar UMC's Annual MLK Jr. Day of Service

4701 New Cut Rd, Ellicott City, MD 21043

Volunteers gathered in-person at Glen Mar Church (4701 New Cut Rd, Ellicott City, MD 21043). We are partnering with co-hosts Ames Memorial UMC and St. John Baptist Church. Participants had a variety of family-friendly short-term service activities for ages 5 to 105 so that everyone - grandparents, parents, young adults, and children - can show their love to local neighbors through meal packing, letter-writing, sorting donations, or serving off-site at soup kitchens or other partner organizations. (Service hours can be earned at the event.)

● For the latest information including a list of planned projects, please visit: https://glenmarumc.org/events/day-of-service/

● Register for the event and specific activities at: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/30e044daea7229-dayofservice5#/

● If you have any questions, email: dayofservice@glenmarumc.org

Holiday GIving

We give thanks for the many volunteers and donors whose hard work and dedication enabled us to serve over 140 households in the 20895 ZIP code area each Thanksgiving and Christmas season. In addition to the families we see monthly through our Hunger Ministry program, St. Paul's is proud to be the community partner for our area for the Montgomery County Department of Health & Human Services Holiday Giving Program. From providing grocery assistance at Thanksgiving to providing toys and Target gift cards for children at Christmas-time, your efforts are evidence of the impact we can have when we are inspired to come together to share our gifts and love for our neighbors. Thank you!

Prayer in the Park:

A Response to Racist Acts in our Community

On August 7, 2022, racist posters were posted in Kensington's St. Paul Park on Plyers Mill Road. The posters were secured by razor-blade-type instruments designed to injure whoever tried to remove them. As a community of faith, we stand against any and all acts of hatred - physical, verbal, or emotional - that target any of God's creation. The police were notified. In response to this acts of hatred and those that continue to manifest within our county and community, St. Paul's UMC gathered with other faith organizations, including our friends from Warner Presbyterian, at St. Paul Park on Plyers Mill Road, on Sunday August 14, 2022 at 12:30pm, offering a visible sign of love, accountability, and support for victims.

Great Day of Service

The Great Day of Service, organized by the Justice & Compassion Team, brings together St. Paul’s members and friends of all ages to serve in our community. We have a variety of service projects from which to choose.

  • CARD MINISTRY (coordinator: Meg Baker) - Create and write cards for those on our Congregational Care list (those who are sick, grieving, care-giving, transitioning, etc.). Participate at home or in person.
  • PARK/TRAIL CLEAN-UP (coordinator: Beth Pierce) - Beautify a local park and trails in the Kensington area by cleaning up trash. We'll caravan from St. Paul's following the 9AM service on October 3 to a local park. Long sleeves and pants, sturdy work or hiking shoes, and work gloves are recommended! Trash bags and plastic gloves will be provided. Weather permitting, we will focus on the trail off of Kensington Parkway leading to Rock Creek Park. Participate in person.
  • UMCOR HYGIENE KITS (coordinator: Marge Higgins) - Assemble kits, which include toothbrushes, towels, bandages, and other personal necessities. Supplies provided! Assemble at home and drop completed kits off at St. Paul's, or assemble onsite. You can also help by making a financial donation toward the $2 per kit that UMCOR uses to purchase toothpaste, and the cost of mailing kits to UMCOR.
  • HUNGER MINISTRY (coordinator: Dawn Ely) - Help sort food donations in preparation for community distribution. Appropriate for all ages (young children should come with a parent or guardian). Participate in person.
  • INTERFAITH WORKS FILL-THE-VAN (coordinator: Rich Higgins) - Provide furniture, clothing, and household goods to support newly arrived refugees and local families displaced by recent flooding. Drop items off at St. Paul's.
  • COMFORT CASE BACKPACK PROJECT - Sorry, this activity has been canceled - if you signed up, you will have the opportunity to pick a different activity.

Better Humans Book Club

Recommended Reading List

The Better Humans Book Club, under the umbrella of the Justice & Compassion team, invites readers to connect with stories from historically underrepresented perspectives and consider nonfiction that challenges us to critically examine and engage with our world. Below is the list of selections read and discussed by the Better Humans Book Club, 2019-2022.

  • Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore  by Elizabeth Rush
  • My People, My People, My God by Don Marbury
  • Native by Kaitlin B. Curtice
  • Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras
  • The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
  • Prey Tell: Why We Silence Women Who Tell The Truth and How Everyone Can Speak Up by Tiffany Bluhm
  • Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help, And How to Reverse It by Robert Lupton
  • The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears by Dinaw Mengestu
  • There There by Tommy Orange
  • How to Be An Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi
  • God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships by Matthew Vines
  • Transforming: The Bible and the Lives of Transgender Christians by Austen Hartke
  • Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces that Keep Us Apart by Christena Cleveland
  • The Devil’s Highway: A True Story by Luis Alberto Urrea

Previous Special Events

Pride Month 2022: In June, members and friends participated in the Capital Pride Parade in Washington DC and the Pride in the Plaza events in downtown Silver Spring MD.

Poor People's Campaign & Moral March on Washington: June 18, 2022. St. Paul’s members and friends rode the metro together to downtown DC to participate in the Poor People’s & Low-Wage Workers' Assembly and Moral March on Washington. Founded on the principles and continuing the work of the movement started by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., this is a people's cry against systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, and the war economy. 

Earth Day River Clean-up. April 23, 2022. Our Justice & Compassion team joined with the Potomac Riverkeeper Network and Friends of Oxon Run to celebrate Earth Day by removing single-use plastics and trash along the shoreline of Oxon Cove and Oxon Run. 

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.

Pastor Pat's Message At the Kensington March and Rally

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


Nicaragua VIM

For many years, St. Paul's had an annual tradition of supporting a Volunteers In Mission team each summer, taking a team to Nicaragua in early August. However, because of political and civil unrest in Nicaragua, we decided to cancel the 2018 and 2019 VIM trips, and all 2020 activities were suspended due to Covid-19. Although the entire team was heartbroken about this, we are sure it was the right decision.

St. Paul's VIM team was 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 of everyone who donated toward the 2018 project. Know that your contributions were sent directly to the community preschools to cover their final costs of supplies and labor. 

We all hope and pray that the turmoil comes to a peaceful resolution and that the communities recover from the ravages of a global pandemic. Thank you, again, for your continued prayers and faithful support of this important ministry. 

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.