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Did You Know? “United Methodists Respond!”

Posted: November 20 2017 at 07:35 PM
Author: By Rev. Arlene Christopherson, Assistant to the Bishop/Dir. Connectional Ministries

As we move rapidly to the close of 2017 there is much to recap in a year when the earth has been bombarded with countless natural disasters. These past few months have been filled with stories of devastation. Wildfires in California and elsewhere, hurricanes in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, the Caribbean and the Dominican Republic. Mudslides in Sierra Leone and Columbia, earthquakes in Mexico, Iran, China, our own tornados and flooding in the Midwest. (And the year isn’t over yet.) The list goes on and in some ways, it’s easy to become numb to the suffering around us – our minds can only absorb so much. How can we help? What will be next?

As we enter the Season of Advent and think of about the gift of the Christ child’s birth we are blessed by God’s grace. We replicate that grace in our traditions of gift giving and celebration. But for United Methodists, sharing our resources, our gifts, isn’t just a seasonal activity, it is a way of life.

One of the strengths of our United Methodist connection is our ability to reach into the corners of the world, into the communities in need and to connect every dollar given in aid to those who need it most. Alone, we can give a little, but together we can make a tremendous impact on the needs of those left wanting, hurting, overwhelmed with grief.

While this is not an end of the year report, I was impressed when I recently saw a summary of Northern Illinois Conference local church giving through October. We had given almost $250,000 to the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). Five dollar, ten dollar and $1,000 gifts come together to make a big impact on the need. United Methodists Respond!

The United Methodist Committee on Relief takes these gifts and coordinates with governmental and nonprofit agencies on site, making sure needs are met. UMCOR not only responds rapidly, it stays engaged. UMCOR is often the last aid organization to leave 5 years, even 10 years after a disaster strikes. United Methodists Respond!

In addition to our UMCOR donations, we have given almost $250,000 through our Rainbow Covenant advances for missions and Special Sunday offerings. United Methodists Respond!

We collected over $70,000 for the Bishop’s Appeal to address the HIV/ AIDS crisis. United Methodists Respond!

Our monetary donations are supplemented by flood buckets and dignity kits that filled a trailer at Annual Conference. United Methodists Respond!

Our giving is expanded by early responders who are helping with cleanup and rebuilding. And in the next few months and years to come the Volunteer in Missions Teams will do the same. United Methodists Respond!

These responders are undergirded by volunteers who work at the Midwest Ministries Distribution Center and Sager Brown Depot, part of the UMCOR relief supply network. United Methodists Respond!

Our donations are heartfelt as we find ways large and small to say “God is with you,” “we care,” and “you do not suffer in isolation.” Our donations are theological as we remember God’s abundance and recognize that we have resources to share with others. Our donations are spiritual as we receive in return for our sharing. Our donations are sacrificial when we give beyond the reasonable, like a young girl asking for hurricane relief funds rather the birthday presents. United Methodists Respond!

As we enter this Advent/Christmas season of giving it is heartening to know that United Methodists are connecting the world to God’s love. Join us in responding!

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