News from United Church of Christ in Mozambique
Founded in 1905, the United Church of Christ in Mozambique (UCCM) is a Reformed Protestant denomination with headquarters in Beira. The church supports cooperation among different denominations, and therefore prioritizes projects in areas where there is the most need, not focusing solely on areas where their own congregations are located. UCCM provides aid for a wide variety of causes, which in the past have included disaster relief, gender activism, education, and supplying water to residents in areas facing drought conditions.
Currently, UCCM prioritizes new efforts in expanding the Family Development Microcredit Project, launching the Girls’ Education Project, and continuing services offered by the Health Center.
Family Development Microcredit Project
The Family Development Microcredit Project seeks to benefit female church members and their families across many denominations. Initiated by women of the UCCM in 2008, the project has helped lift families out of poverty by entrusting them with small loans for the production of goods to sell in community marketplaces. Thanks to the project, participating families have increased their income, becoming self-sustaining and able to contribute more services to the community and improve the local economy.
This year, the UCCM Microcredit Project is expanding into two new provinces: Zambezia and Nampula.As a result of four new UCCM congregations in these two provinces, one of the first projects the congregations will be offering to families is an opportunity to participate in the Family Development Microcredit Project of the UCCM.Currently, three individuals are assisting in running the microcredit projects throughout the country, serving in the roles of coordinator, secretary, and treasurer. These three individuals will accompany the new microcredit programs as they are being formed.
Girls’ Education Project
The Girls’ Education Project is a collaboration among many Christian organizations in Mozambique with the aim of raising awareness of the risks of teenage pregnancy as well as providing teenage mothers with social support. In Mozambique, pregnant girls are often shunned, isolated, and pressured to drop out of school. The stigma associated with them may make it hard for them to find work, and unfortunately, many feel forced to turn to prostitution in order to support themselves and their child. If the teenage mothers can stay in school and receive social support, they can get better jobs and remain positively connected with society. The Girls’ Education Project will offer lessons to schoolgirls on the topic of pregnancy prevention and also encourage school teachers to accept pregnant students and assist them in their struggles. Through this program, girls can be better informed about choices for their future and avoid the health risks and financial dangers that come with teenage pregnancy.
The Nhamudima Health Center was created in 2014 to provide information on the effects of reproductive health in the Nhamudima community. The area’s residents had only very basic information on HIV/AIDS and were in need of education on the topic as well as platforms for open dialogue to express ideas for handling the issue. UCCM will continue working to promote this openness so that all Nhamudima people will be informed about how to deal with many forms of sickness and to care for individuals with HIV/AIDS. UCCM especially wishes to start a group effort for assisting adults and children with HIV/AIDS who do not have caretakers to help them. With social education on the topic, UCCM aims to eradicate stigma against individuals with the disease. Seminars and workshops about children’s rights and public health can empower the marginalized and put an end to the spread of harmful misinformation.
Transportation for Pastors
The UCCM continues to prioritize the purchase of motorcycles for pastors. Transportation for pastors in rural parishes is a big complication as there is a vast distance between churches and residences. On average, each ordained rural pastor in the UCCM serves six congregations within one parish, an average of 200 families per parish, covering an area spanning 20 to 80 km (12 to 50 miles).For most pastors, the only options for transportation are to walk or use a bicycle, which are extremely slow and dangerous as pastors have to spend the night in the wild and cannot carry much water with them. UCCM would like to purchase motorbikes for the pastors so that they can spend more time attending to congregants as well as use the increased mobility to serve communion more often and lead more worship services.
Communication Technology Improvements
Along with the priorities for ministry detailed above, UCCM has identified the priority to improve technology infrastructure in their national offices in order to increase communications. The UCCM national office lacks basic technology used for mass communication. Purchasing computers, photocopiers, and printers would allow distribution of printed newsletters to churches and intra-denominational partners as well as internet communication to reach out to international partner organizations.