First Congregational United Church of Christ to be honored by Chamber
IMLAY CITY — Whether it’s food for the hungry or food for the soul, the Imlay City First Congregational United Church of Christ has offered something for everyone in the community for the past 150 years.
As it celebrates this historic milestone, the Church is also being honored as the 2022 Organization of the Year by the Imlay City Chamber of Commerce. The award will be presented at the Chamber’s annual Gala event, slated for April 2 at Castle Creek Golf Course. To purchase tickets or for more information call 810-542-3256.
Considered a welcoming haven for residents from all walks of life, backgrounds and religious traditions, the Church and its congregation has stocked and maintained a food pantry within the historic building for the past 30 years.
Staffed and stocked by volunteers, the pantry serves those living within the Imlay City school district the first four Thursdays of each month. They also host a “Little Pantry” outside of the church where residents can take and/or leave food donations when needed.
For their efforts to feed the hungry and more, Tri-City Times Editor Maria Brown nominated the Church for the Organization of the Year Award.
“In addition to serving those with food insecurity, the church undertakes other projects to benefit and minister to the community,” Brown says in her nomination letter. “They regularly make donations of both supplies and monies to LACADA, the county’s shelter for victims of domestic abuse. They also host special services to meet the needs of the community, including a ‘Blue Christmas’ service to help those dealing with grief over the holidays and a ‘Blessing of Animals’ which gives local residents the chance to acknowledge the importance of pets and animal companions in our lives.”
Those special touches and unique community outreach efforts are why longtime Church member Barb Greenwald stays active in the congregation. Greenwald is slated to accept the award on behalf of the church at the Gala.
“I am excited and happy that the church is being honored,” Greenwald says. “I love being active and part of it. I really enjoy working in the food pantry, when people come by to get what they need. We work together and we have fun, and we hope that whatever the people need, we can provide it.”
Greenwald, who has been a member of the church for the past 15 years, says the heartfelt goal to welcome all people is what makes the congregation unique.
“When we say ‘all are welcome here,’ we really mean it,” she says. “Every organization we’ve helped or donated to—LACADA and others—have all been very grateful. They’ve really shown their appreciation.”
Pastor Dave Forsberg’s distinctive efforts to reach out to—and serve— the community are also noteworthy, Greenwald says.
“He is really trying to meet the needs of the community with his events,” she says. “He is always coming up with something new and something fun as well.”
Among those new events are the Blessing of the Animals, Good Earth Day, and this year’s new ‘Ash and Dash’ event marking the first day of Lent.
A former newspaperman, Forsberg logged some 40 years in print and broadcast journalism and community, government and public relations before becoming a pastor. Forsberg says he actively seeks to live up to the words on a banner that’s posted outside the Church sanctuary.
“It says ‘Be the Church,’ and that banner typifies what we seek to do in the community. We seek to Be The Church—underlined. To be active in the community and to love your neighbor as yourself,” he says.
Forsberg says he’s grateful for recognition by the Chamber, and to all those who continue their commitment to serve the community.
“It is a real, supreme honor to be awarded,” Forsberg says. “It’s also a tribute to our members and all of the members who have gone before us at the church who have been serving Imlay City and the world since the church was organized.
Currently, the church hosts about 35 members and is eager to welcome more into the fold.
“A small church can do big things in the community,” Forsberg says.
Along with worship service, the church hosts Wednesday night Lenten programs, pot lucks with movie screenings, fellowship hour after services and more.
To learn more about the Imlay City First Congregational United Church of Christ visit https://www.fccuccimlay.org or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/FirstCongregational UCC.ImlayCity.
To learn more about the Imlay City Area Chamber of Commerce visit imlaycitychamberofcommerce.org or call 810-542-3256. More information available at https://www.facebook.com/imlaycityareachamberofcommerce.
Catherine Minolli is Managing Editor of the Tri-City Times. She began as a freelance writer with the Times in 1994. She enjoys the country life, including raising ducks and chickens.