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DYK: Missions – Our Heart and Heritage

Posted: April 24 2021 at 10:44 AM
Author: By Rev. Arlene Christopherson, Asst. to the Bishop/Dir. of Connectional Ministries


My early understanding of the United Methodist Church’s passion for missions and the work of apportionments grew out of the Northern Illinois Conference's Rainbow Covenant, which provided resources to support second-mile giving in the local church.

As a convert to the UMC before my ordination, I knew little beyond the local church. Participating in a Rainbow Covenant Bus Tour with other candidates for ministry introduced me to the work of missions within the bounds of our annual conference and throughout the world. During that bus tour, we were taught the basics of apportionments and introduced to local and global missions. My heart was filled with pride as I spent three days on a bus hearing testimony as we traveled across our conference. Seeing firsthand the work that can be done when we pool our resources and energies was truly transformational.

The work of our Conference Board on Global Ministries (CBGM) influenced my call to become a United Methodist. Over the years, as churches have faithfully paid their apportionments for the work of the annual conference and the witness of the general church, congregations have gone beyond their fair share of assigned apportionments and given even more to build up our witness through missions.

A quick look through the Northern Illinois Conference journals indicates that over these 35 years, with special appeals and Rainbow Covenant gifts we have supported global missions beyond our apportionments with at least $35 million dollars of faithful stewardship! Fast forward 35 years and missions are still at the heart of our identity and Wesleyan tradition. We are a global church with an amazing reach into places where we can make a difference.

Thirty-five years is a long time to go without refreshing our brand. In 2019 CBGM made a commitment to update, refresh and modernize our communications so we can capture the next generation’s heart for mission (and maybe the next generation of candidates for ministry). Even with the barriers of the pandemic, a faithful group of lay and clergy members of CBGM labored to birth something new. This spring they unveiled: “Mission Links: Living the Beatitudes.” This new online resource invites you to see our work in the world through the words of Jesus in the beatitudes.

Mission Links explores the history of apportionments and explains Special Sunday offerings. It gives you a snapshot of mission-giving opportunities globally, nationally, regionally and locally, as well as through our support of missionaries. Many of these listings include a link to a website where you can learn even more about a specific effort. The missions are also connected to one or more beatitudes so you can move through the statements of “blessing” and touch each aspect of Jesus' proclamation. This is a great resource for your missions committee, Sunday School class, Confirmation students, and prospective new members.

We have all been through a long, hard year of uncertainty and isolation while trying to stem the tide of a pandemic. Even in this time of separation, we are still connecting around the world to those who need the healing hope of Christ! Blessed are those who answer the call to witness to Christ's love in our world!

To find the Mission Links booklet in a PDF format as well as a digital magazine format, visit umcnic.org/missionlinks.

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