By Pastor Gary Peterson
It has not been my practice to talk about giving at Claybanks United Methodist Church, because as a church, you have supported and blessed the church so that we have been able to support Claybanks United Methodist Church with all the resources it has needed. The Claybanks United Methodist Church has also supported special needs giving in many different ways such as providing food for our local food pantry, supporting those who have gone on missionary trips, sending children to camp and currently supporting the efforts of the Nigerian Well Project.
UMCOR Sunday for many years was known as “One Great Hour of Sharing”. In 2016 our General Conference of the United Methodist Church approved a name change from One Great Hour of Sharing to UMCOR Sunday. UMCOR Sunday is one of six church wide special Sunday offerings of the United Methodist Church. UMCOR Sunday calls United Methodists to share the goodness of life with those who are hurting.
UMCOR is the humanitarian arm of the United Methodist Church. The work of UMCOR reaches people in more than 80 countries, including the United States. THE work of UMCOR provides humanitarian relief when war, conflict or natural disaster disrupts life to such an extent that the communities have difficulty recovering on their own. Traditionally UMCOR Sunday is celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent. One of the four disciplines of Lent is that of assisting others showing God’s love and grace to a world in need.
Let me answer a question that I get asked many times over. With so many types of solicitations that are requested of us, will what I give get to the people when disasters happen or life is interrupted? When asked to give to assist in humanitarian efforts, many people want to know “how much of what I give is received directly by those in need,”. When there are disasters that affect lives, such as the hurricanes we had last fall that hit a number of islands and the United States, we took up special offerings. One hundred percent of our offerings went directly to assist those in need. This happens because once a year on UMCOR Sunday we asked for special gifts to underwrite the administrative costs of UMCOR so that when disasters strike all that we give is used to assist those in need.
Your gifts to UMCOR Sunday lays the foundation for the United Methodist Committee On Relief (UMCOR) to share God’s love with communities everywhere. These special offerings underwrite UMCOR’s “cost of doing business.” This helps UMCOR to keep the promise that 100% of any gift given to a special project request will go toward that project and not administrative cost.
Looking back just a few years ago, when Hurricane Sandy hit the eastern coast of the United States, with the resources that we have and shared as United Methodists, UMCOR was there to help not only in cleanup but assist in the rebuilding of churches and community centers in the areas affected by the hurricane. Hurricane Sandy also hit Cuba and 100% of the donations given to relief for Hurricane Sandy also assisted in rebuilding of homes and 21 United Methodist Churches in Cuba.
Our contributions collected on UMCOR Sunday ensures that we as the United Methodist Church can respond in times of crisis. UMCOR is the extension of the hands and feet of the United Methodist Church that helps restore and rebuild lives here and abroad. It is my prayer, my heart and my duty as your pastor to ask you to support UMCOR Sunday on March 11th. On Sunday March 4th and on Sunday March 11th there will be envelopes in the pews to designate your offering to UMCOR.
Because of your generosity, we, as the United Methodist Church, are able to offer aid in Jesus’ name to those who suffer. “I was hungry, and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was naked, and you gave me clothes to wear. I was sick, and you took care of me. I was in prison and you visited me (Matthew 25:35-36).