Online Fundraiser a Success for Orinda Community Church

(Kathy Enzerink)
Pastor Elizabeth Robinson (L) holds one of five colorfully wrapped Surprise Balls she made for the online auction. Gwen McNeilus (C), hands the box of her homemade jellies and sauces to auction volunteer Jeane Samuelsen.

    With a new format, the Orinda Community Church’s (OCC) FUNdraiser netted 110% of its $10,000 goal. Because of COVID-19, the total was accomplished all online.
    “This was a fundraiser for the church to raise money to help us honor its mission as a community-based church with outreach to the community on such issues as social justice, environmental awareness and housing. [OCC donated the land for Orinda Senior Village].  It helps us keep what we call our ‘prophetic edge,’” said Gail Mead, auction administrator. 
    Pastor Elizabeth Robinson added, “We recently voted to become a Creation Justice congregation. Our denomination, the United Church of Christ, states that it assists congregations who join this program in making the ministry of environmental justice an integral strand in our faith community.”
    She clarified: “The idea grew out of the ‘green church’ movement, but seeks to move beyond a concern for the natural environment to include a ‘focus on the social justice impacts of environmental degradation on poor communities and communities of color.’ Currently, we assist a number of organizations that help unhoused people into housing.  Surpassing our auction goal ensures we have the means to help causes like these.”
    A fall auction usually occurs during the church’s Octoberfest, when members gather for celebration and a good meal. “Since we couldn’t meet and conduct an in-person auction this year, our congregation embraced the plan to do it online,” Mead said.  
    “One of our staff, Leslie O’Brien, offered ‘singing telegrams’; a family with Louisiana roots delivered various Cajun meals; another member donated a handmade quilt. There was a golf package and vacation retreats as well as gift certificates from local businesses such as Shelbys, Village Pizza and Bird and Bear Coffee Roasters.”  
    Robinson concluded, “We tried to think ‘outside the box’ and offer items our people would find interesting while keeping everything safe. The congregation truly rose to the challenges of the moment with generosity and spirit.”
    At present, OCC does not have in-person services, but Sunday services with Pastor (and poet) Robinson are recorded on their website at

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