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Program Idea

Burn a Candle: Pledge Service 2013

By Nancy Bearden Hudson

2 Corinthians 9:6-15

Focus Images

  • Worship center table covered with a cloth.
  • Place three candles on the table. These should be different sizes and different shapes.
  • Place a responsemagazine, the Prayer Calendar and an open Bible with a debit card, checkbook and money on top of the Bible.
  • Place a pair of praying hands on the worship center.

Prayer for Program Planner(s)
Holy God, may we open our hearts and minds as we prepare this program. Give us a clear picture of where you desire this program to go and give us the means to take it there. Oh, Lord, may those who share and listen receive a blessing from you. Amen.


  • Assemble the items needed for the focus image.
  • Recruit the women needed to take part in the program.
  • Pass out United Methodist Women’s Membership Joys brochure, which includes a pledge card. You may wish to mail this or give it to your ladies a few days before the program.


  • Arrange chairs around the focus center table. Everyone should be able to see the focus center.
  • On the table place the three candles.
  • Place the open Bible in the center with the debit card, checkbook and money on top of the Bible.
  • On one side place a pair of praying hands or prayer cards (or something that represents prayer).
  • Place response magazine and Prayer Calendar on the table.

Feel free to make this program your own. If you have people in your group who have experiences they would like to share, please substitute them for any or all of these.


Why a Pledge Service?
Leader: Why do we need a pledge service? (Allow time for participants to respond.)

  • So we may be a community of giving women.
  • To be a part of mission in the national and international agencies.
  • For programs that will empower women, children and youth.
  • Help organizations to foster programs such as after school tutoring, computer classes, anti-gang activities, programs to help teen pregnancies, etc.
  • To represent a contract between oneself and God.

 What is the purpose of a pledge service? (Allow time for participants to respond.)

  • To remember that without prayers and money the needs of women, children and youth may not be met.
  • To remember that without prayers and money the work of justice might not get done.
  • To remember that without prayers and money our agencies would struggle to exist.
  • To remember that our passion for mission is supported with prayer and giving.

2 Corinthians 9:6-9 (NIV)
This is an antiphonal reading—divide those present into two groups and read the following:

Group 1: Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.

Group 2: Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Group 1: And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

Group 2: As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.”

“The Church’s One Foundation,” hymn 545 in The United Methodist Hymnal

Light a Candle
Leader: Our program today is “Light a Candle.” On our worship table are three candles. These candles symbolize faith, hope and love in action. Listen not only with your ears but your heart as well.

Reader 1: The faith journey we travel is a myriad of experiences. Many of our journeys have to do with family, friends and community. We are continuously confronted with situations that cause us to stop and search for the right path. Is this the path God desires me to travel or am I traveling there on my own?

How do we cope with family situations that are out of control—affairs, drugs, domestic violence, murder, among others? Can we stand by and allow human trafficking in our community? Can we stand by and allow the mistreatment of immigrants, or anyone? What does our Scripture say to us about justice for all?

It is our faith that empowers us to cope with all of these situations and experiences. On our journey, God provides us with opportunities to grow and stand firm on our faith so that we can bring transformation in the lives of those on the margins. We are given so many tools to help us grow our faith through spiritual growth retreats, Mission u’s, Prayer Calendar, the Charter for Racial Justice, the Program Book, the Reading Program, Call to Prayer and Self-Denial, to name a few.

This is faith in action. (Light a candle.)

2 Corinthians 9:10-11 (NIV)
Again reading antiphonally—divide those present into two groups.
Group 1: Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.

Group 2: You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

Light a Candle
From “One Woman’s Story” by Paul Jeffrey, response magazine, November 2011

Reader 2: Mary Alonzo’s childhood was as far from idyllic as you could possibly get. Her mother was bipolar, her father an alcoholic. Her brothers made her drink liquor and then sexually abused her. Her self-esteem was terrible. She was never pretty or smart enough. She never felt love in her house. She sought love by leaving home at 14. She was nothing. She lived on the streets of Detroit, did lots of drugs, was in and out of jail, and then started living with a man who supplied her drug habit. She became his possession and in her words, “I knew he loved me because he beat me.”

Her life continued until she struggled to become sober. She had a child and then, she was fighting to regain custody of a daughter to whom she’d given birth in prison. As part of a prisoner reentry program, she met Rose Simmons, program director at the United Methodist Community House in Grand Rapids, Mich., who invited her to come live at the First Step house, a transitional living center. She did so and now, at 45, Mary, house manager of First Step, calls it “a safe haven” for its residents.

Mary has found her way back to God. “Real family is something I lacked, and it’s a common deficit in the experience of these women,” she said. “It’s important to have someone who is there for them even when they mess up, who won’t be judgmental but rather encouraging. We’re really good at working with people and giving them second chances. That’s what God has done with me.”

This is hope in action. (Light a candle.)

2 Corinthians 9:12-13 (NIV)
Again reading antiphonally.
Group 1: This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.

Group 2: Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.

Light a Candle
Reader 3: Church had just dismissed and I was walking to my car when I received word that my husband of 36 years had had a massive heart attack and died. You can imagine the pain and heartbrokenness I felt as I lived into those words. It took several days, weeks and even months to understand the impact of his death. Nine years have passed, and I look back on that time and see the loving deeds of my United Methodist Women sisters gently guiding me through the grieving process.

This is love in action. (Light a candle.)

2 Corinthians 9:14-15 (NIV)
Again reading antiphonally.

Group 1: And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you.

Group 2: Thanks be to God for God’s indescribable gift!    

Faith • Hope • Love in Action
Leader: It takes all of these—faith, hope and love in action—for United Methodist Women to live into the future. Our foremothers have given us a great heritage on which to build. We, the United Methodist Women members of today, have tremendous responsibilities. We must read, be aware and educate ourselves on the issues facing us in our community, our nation and internationally. We are called to action through prayer, letter writing, speaking up for the unheard and standing in the gap for those who need us. Now the question becomes, what legacy are we leaving our daughters, their daughters, the women of the future?

On the table you see a basket, if you have not already filled out your pledge card, do so now. Please take the time to prayerfully consider your pledge and remember the scripture said, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” As we sing “Here I Am, Lord,” please bring your pledge card to the front and place it in the basket.

“Here I Am, Lord,” hymn 593 in The United Methodist Hymnal

Closing Prayer
God of the present, God of the future, walk with us as we serve you through United Methodist Women, locally, nationally and internationally. Through our service and advocacy, our educating and equipping, our giving and our prayers, may this organization supply seed to the sower and bread to the hungry. O Lord, make it so! In the name of Jesus, the Christ. Amen.

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Nancy Bearden Hudson is a former Women’s Division director who has served on all levels of United Methodist Women. A retired middle school teacher, she is currently an adjunct professor at Georgia College and State University and choir director for Centerville United Methodist Church in Centerville, GA.

Last Updated: 03/29/2014

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