Celebrating Mission Giving for 2010
Every year we celebrate the mission gifts of each United Methodist Women member. This year we do so with some new perspective. The economic challenges of the past few years and today have had an impact on all of our lives. Though the impact has been real to United Methodist Women members, they continue to be some of the most dedicated givers in the country.
Facts and Figures
United Methodist Women put their faith, hope and love into action and gave sacrificially and resourcefully in 2010. Some signs of this have been seen in the giving patterns of the past two years:
- 15 conferences increased their pledge from 2009 to 2010.
- Six of these conferences also increased their Mission Giving.
- 18 conferences did not change their pledge in the same period.
- Five of these 18 also increased Mission Giving in 2010.
Of the total collective pledge for 2010, the amount $14.75 million received was 97.2 percent of the pledge. Somehow, for those who could not give, others gave more. This was particularly evident in the Desert Southwest, Peninsula-Delaware and Red Bird Missionary Conferences, who exceeded their pledge by more than 20 percent. Detroit increased total giving even though they were one of the conferences most impacted by the recession.
“We are grateful to the United Methodist Women members who give so much of themselves every day, even in these difficult economic times,” said Ms. Martha Sherman-Knight, Women’s Division treasurer.
Challenges to Giving
Giving was down from the prior year by 3.5 percent, an indication of the economic reality impacting the country.
“Although we may be hearing that the economy has turned around in the rest of the country, the recovery hasn’t made much of a dent in Michigan’s recession,” said Ms. M. Kay Mowery, treasurer for the Detroit Conference. “Giving to missions has suffered.”
Likewise, Ms. Clara Campbell, treasurer of Desert Southwest Conference, said, “People are out of work in a bad economy. Not all units have increased their giving and are having a hard time making their pledge.” Ms. Elizabeth George of Peninsula-Delaware echoed the same concern. Red Bird Missionary Conference was no exception. “Because of the economy and other problems, some units have just about died,” said Ms. Brenda Spence, treasurer.
Reduction in the number of districts
Until July 1, 2011, the Detroit Annual Conference is made up of seven districts, which includes the east side of Michigan Lower Peninsula as well as Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. “United Methodist Women members from the largely rural Marquette District have great distance to travel not only when they participate in United Methodist Women events in Lower Peninsula but also for district meetings and events,” said Ms. Mowery. Giving in this conference depends on location, with urban districts giving more than the rural.
On July 1, a realignment of districts will reduce the number of districts in the Detroit Annual Conference to six. The realignment will also reduce the channel of United Methodist Women giving in this conference.
“Most units sent their pledges in October, November and December,” noted Ms. George. Sending pledges in the last quarter notwithstanding, Ms. Spence remarked, “We have some strong units and some struggling units. Some are able to meet their pledges, and others are giving more than their pledge.” Ms. George added, “Their giving makes up for less giving in other districts.”
Vision Reinforces Increased Giving
Despite these challenges, several conferences increased their pledge in 2010, reinforcing their commitment to women, children and youth. “We are using the theme of faith, hope and love in action to help units understand the importance of Mission Giving, especially now that there are so many hurricanes, fires and flooding going on,” said Ms. Campbell. Ms. George affirmed, “I try to emphasize that if we don’t meet our pledge women and children will be the ones to suffer.”
Practicing “five-star” programs
Detroit Conference embraced the “Five-Star Woman” and “Five-Star Person” program actively among its members at all levels. Promoting these programs in her conference newsletter Ms. Mowery explained:
Anyone who is willing to donate a minimum of $60 through the Mission Giving program of United Methodist Women may become a Five-Star Person. Do you realize this is only $5 a month less than $1.20 a week and just over 16 cents a day?
The really exciting part of this program, of course, is that the money you donate when you become a Five-Star Person helps United Methodist Women support mission projects locally, throughout the United States and around the world. To read about United Methodist Women projects supported by Mission Giving, pick up any issue of response magazine or go to the website: www.unitedmethodistwomen.org.
If the current economic situation has limited your ability to contribute at this time, please remember that a monetary pledge is not required to participate in United Methodist Women’s activities. Each woman has unique gifts and graces to contribute to the unit and her church. All contributions to the mission projects of United Methodist Women are encouraged and valued.
Reflecting on the increase in giving from the Saginaw Bay district, Ms. Kathy Nader, former district treasurer added, “I approach the giving as a whole program.” If a member in her district could not give more than $60 she recommended that she become Five-Star by pledging to her unit her services at fundraisers that her unit could then use to fulfill the unit’s pledge.
Ms. Nader also recommends that local units’ treasurers make their pastor a Five-Star Person for pastor appreciation day. She did this in the St. Charles United Methodist Church unit.
Additionally, she includes a letter promoting Five-Star Person from the district superintendent, Rev. Louise Ott, who is a Five-Star Woman herself. Local units use this article and a note to invite their pastor to become a Five-Star Person. “While all clergy are honorary United Methodist Women members, a special invitation always helps,” Ms. Nader said.
In “Why in the world is there an article from a district superintendent in the United Methodist Women newsletter?” Ms. Ott reflects:
Pastors of local churches cannot do their mission education work without United Methodist Women doing their part … This is something that United Methodist Women (members) do very well. Please ask for opportunities to lead.”
Why bother the pastor with this? Because leaders lead! Why do you have to assist your pastor? Because no leader can do it alone. Why is being a Five-Star Person important? Because there are hearts and lives hurting and empty without the loving touch of hope that Christ asks us to bring to all God’s people.
Bishop Jonathan D. Keaton who serves both the Detroit Annual Conference and the West Michigan Conference is a strong supporter of United Methodist Women. “All 11 elected officers of the Detroit Conference United Methodist Women organization and all seven district presidents are members of the annual conference,” said Ms. Mowery.
Detroit Conference is an excellent example of a “trickle-up” effect of giving in which everyone is engaged in mission.
Pruning accounting practices
In addition to providing creative opportunities to members and clergy to be givers in mission, Ms. Mowery has also taken accounting steps to increase Mission Giving. “Because 2010 was my second year as conference treasurer, I was able to judge more accurately how much administration and membership development money was needed to carry over into next year, so we gave more at year’s end,” she said.
“We were also able to withdraw funds from a two-year CD in which we accumulate funds for attendance at Assembly, National Seminar and jurisdiction events because of its timely renewal date.”
Practicing giving as a discipline
The Red Bird Missionary United Methodist Women Conference has no districts but 10 units and approximately 161 members. “We have faithful conference officers that work great together. Most of our units are Five-Star Units. While our offerings for the spring and fall meetings are very successful,” Ms. Spence added, “Boonville unit increases their pledge by 10 percent every year.”
Developing and observing inspirational services
“Candle burning service serves as an inspiration to units to give more,” observed Ms. Spence. The UMWOnline community is becoming a great place to share more ideas about services and programs that will inspire more giving.
Ms. George emphasizes telling stories of mission during spring and fall events to challenge women to be involved in mission. “When we tell stories of faith, hope and love in action it encourages people to know how women are caring and compassionate toward what is going on in the world and they want to give more,” she said.
“We made more than what we had pledged for 2010, so we increased our pledge in 2010,” said Ms. George.
Numbers alone tell only a part of the story; the story of United Methodist Women members’ journey of giving is equally significant and includes many signposts.
United Methodist Women members partake in God’s mission by deepening their relationship with God through prayer and study, participating in mission education and raising awareness of justice issues, and engaging in service and advocacy on behalf of women, children and youth in the United States and around the world. It is God’s mission for each life, and each woman, whether at the local, district or conference level, shares in God’s mission through her giving.
By Praveena Balasundaram, Editor/Executive Secretary for Program Resources, Women’s Division.