Outreach and Mission
We at First UMC work in partnership with a variety of groups and organizations throughout our community and the larger UMC to bring hope and healing where it is needed most. Together we can change lives and transform the world.
Addressing Homelessness: Many believe homelessness to be the number one issue facing the community of Santa Monica. As followers of Christ, we believe that a faithful response to this issue includes affirming the sacred worth of and welcoming all persons, recognizing God’s identification with and special care for the marginalized, and acting on the biblical responsibility of the church to care for the poor.
- Upward Bound House – A long-time dream of the First UMC congregation came to life in the early ’90s when Rev. Don Shelby, church members, and staff focused the church’s mission on seniors and homeless families within this city. The Church partnered with Upward Bound House to raise money and lend its property for building state of the art housing and a subterranean garage. We continue on a daily basis serving this population and providing our congregation a place to volunteer that is near to our hearts. Check out more info at www.upwardboundhouse.org.
- Home Run for Kids – Run or walk to end homelessness with Home Run for Kids. This 10K & 5K annual race sponsored by Upward Bound House is a great opportunity for kids, parents, and the community to work together to help solve family homelessness in Los Angeles.
- Habitat for Humanity – Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles builds and renovates homes in partnership with God and people everywhere with a goal of eliminating substandard housing by making decent, affordable housing a matter of conscience and action in our communities. First UMC is one of nine churches to join in a coalition to fund and build a home in Culver City.
- Angel Tree Project – Each year First UMC supports a local group of children and families by providing them with Christmas gifts, often much needed practical items as well as toys and clothing.
- The People Concern – The non-profit organization provides highly effective, fully integrated services to the most traumatized, vulnerable and needy members of our community—homeless individuals, victims of domestic violence, at-risk youth, indigent Veterans, and people dealing with severe physical or mental illness or substance abuse.
- Harvest Home –Harvest Home transforms the lives of homeless pregnant women and their children by providing housing, support, and programs that equip women to become great mothers.
Hunger: Demand for food assistance continues at a record high level due to: Ongoing economic, financial, and social repercussions of a global pandemic; Increased food insecurity and financial hardship caused by inflation and supply chain challenges; Housing costs and living expenses consuming more and more of paychecks and finances. Here at First UMC we support:
- Westside Food Bank – Westside Food Bank’s mission is to distribute as much food as possible to local agencies with food assistance programs and to reduce food waste on the Westside of Los Angeles County. Food is collected at First UMC every Sunday, as well as seasonal food drives, to benefit the Westside Food Bank. Food bins can be found outside the Sanctuary and in the Preschool. We also support and participate in the Westside Food Bank Annual 5K Hunger Walk.
- Youth Service Project: Each summer, a team of youth and adult volunteers from First UMC Santa Monica take time out of their summer vacations to go on a week-long mission trip. During the trip, youth learn about themselves and build relationships with people from all over the U.S., they learn teamwork and how to use power tools, and they are given the opportunity to help people to gain a safe, warm, and dry home to live in through their work. This service leadership opportunity helps youth to grow in their faith through serving others. We collaborate with reputable youth-centered service organizations, and while the location of the trips varies each year, the mission remains the same: Be in community and of service to those in need.
- Good Samaritan Medical & Dental Ministry in Vietnam: First UMC members Todd and Leigh Erlandson have been long-time supporters of the Good Samaritan Medical and Dental Ministry, located in the Cao Bang Province in North Vietnam. Todd and Leigh’s architecture office, March Studio, has worked in various capacities with the GSMDM organization to get medical projects started in Vietnam over the past 15 years. In 2019 they traveled to Vietnam with Dr. Vien Doan, founder of the Ministry, to plan the construction of a state of the art Family Health Center. The goal of center is to provide local primary
care services and reduce stress on regional hospitals. Planning initially began in 2018 and after a shut down due to Covid-19, Todd met with the team in the Cao Bang Province in October of 2022, and made significant progress on getting the building closer to completion.
- Haiti Mission: In 2010, a devastating magnitude 7.0 earthquake devastated the country of Haiti and in the aftermath, our congregation heard a call to be in an ongoing mission partnership with the Haitian people. We sent teams over a span of eight years from our church to collaborate with Haitian Methodist partners and to be in service to Haitian communities. We celebrate the tangible progress in rebuilding churches, clinics, schools and homes. We believe that our biggest impact in the rebuilding effort in Haiti, however, is in giving hope and building relationships with our fellow Haitian brothers and sisters in Christ. Currently we are working remotely with our Haitian teams to provide financial assistance for the local community, such as fundraising for goats, holiday food drops, peanut crops, and emergency assistance. Visit the Haiti webpage to read recent updates and past reports.
- First UMC Pop-Up Library: In the Fall of 2016, First UMC built a Community Pop-Up Library, designed and handmade by First UMC member Robert Hedges. Others were involved in the making of the library: the architectural concept was developed by First UMC member Todd Erlandson, and donations of time and materials were thoughtfully contributed by Marisol Chinchilla, Anson Nordby, Phil Flanders, David Penson, Dane Rold and Eric & Claudia Warren. We give thanks for the beauty of knowledge and ability to share with one another inspirational reading. We encourage you to take a book, donate a book – or share a moment with a friend. Should you have donations that won’t fit in the space, please come visit the church office Tuesdays through Friday. And we are always here on Sundays.
- Sunday School Faith in Action: Faith in Action is a day when the children and youth work together to perform a gracious act of community service. Visit the website to view past projects
- Card Care Ministry: First UMC sends out care cards in the mail to all service people connected to the church: medical professionals, police, firefighters and teachers.
- First UMC Santa Monica has a long tradition of honoring the academic achievements of students in our church and community who pursue post-secondary education. Every year the Loans & Scholarships Committee has the pleasure of acknowledging outstanding scholars, including graduating high school seniors, continuing undergraduates, and graduate students, for their scholastic excellence, commitment to community, and dedication to our church. They contribute their time and counsel in evaluating the submissions and matching the applicants to the scholarships, which are overseen by the Methodist Foundation.
- The Methodist Foundation of Santa Monica, founded in 1967, exists to provide aid to religious, educational and charitable causes. The Foundation is administered by a volunteer Board of Trustees with John Youngman as president.
- First UMC supports Mission Partner, The Wesley Foundation 560 Cafe, Serving UCLA, a community dedicated to building justice through dialogue, creative expression, belief and activism. Lively discussions, art and music make this a special place to hang out, meet new friends and catch up with old ones. There is always something going on at the 580 and always someone to talk to! 580 Cafe is an Immigrant Welcoming, LGBTQIA+ Inclusive, and Gender Affirming Community.
- InnerChange: InnerCHANGE journeys with the poor, working long-term with people who face enduring poverty. Through “collaborative, transformative action, lives and communities are changed, local leaders are empowered, and disciples of Jesus are cultivated.”
Serving Youth in the Community:
- First UMC Mission Partner Children, Youth and Family Collaborative (CYFC) is a nationally recognized organization serving over 2,500 foster youth and youth on probation, with programming in nine school districts with successful replication of its nationally recognized model in over 89 schools. Read More
- Annual School Supply Donations: Our church has a long history of supporting students through the gift of backpacks and school supplies each fall. During the month of August, First UMC traditionally calls for donations that enable us to support low-income and marginalized communities. The organizations we are support are Upward Bound House, Sherman Indian High School, the School Bell Backpack Program through the Assistance League of Santa Monica, and The People Concern in Santa Monica.