Human Relations Sunday is January 19

January 10, 2014










Church Takes One Special Sunday Offering

“Make all you can, save all you can, give all you can,” wrote Methodism founder John Wesley in “The Use of Money”. 

Wesley’s instructions were meant to encourage the first Methodists, many of whom were poor, to maximize their potential and find create ways to give more. Recently, one church took this idea to heart by changing the way it collects for Special Sundays.

Grace United Methodist Church is a 300-member church in Joliet, Ill., made up mostly of working-class members. The Rev. Daniel Diss is the pastor. Sunday attendance ranges from 90 to 120.

“My church was doing collections for all six special Sundays,” Diss recalled, “but we weren’t getting much of a response. We collected them during the designated Sundays. Sometimes we only collected a few dollars.

“We decided we could do a lot better, so we changed the way we took collections. Instead of doing six collections during the year with little advanced notice to the congregation, we decided we would do collections for all six special Sunday offerings on the same weekend.”

When Grace Church collected each special Sunday offering individually, the per-Sunday average was about $65. Now that number has quadrupled.

“We were a mostly blue-collar church of people who have to budget their money carefully and plan the expenses ahead of time,” Diss said. “It’s not that they can’t or didn’t want to give to these ministries, but they needed advance notice, so we worked to accommodate their situation to help them be able to give more.”

Even though they take one big collection now, Grace continues to promote each special Sunday on its official day, sharing resources and videos of ministries that benefit.

“People want to give, but they also want to feel connected to the causes they’re supporting,” Diss said. “It’s all about communications. Tell them what you’re doing, how you’re doing it, and follow through completely.”

The church created its own envelopes for the collection that gave contributors different options for dividing their offerings among the special Sundays. The church promoted the collection in their newsletter so members had ample time to plan.

“We provided an envelope with a checklist on it where they could designate which offerings they wanted to support and how much they wanted to go to each offering,” Diss said. Another option was to divide their donations equally among the six ministries. Most people marked that box.

“We asked our members if they could commit to giving $1 to each ministry for each member in their household. So if you had a couple donating, they gave $12, but people came back to us and said they could give more, so we ended up with donations for 10 times that.

“The congregation really did want to give as much as they could,” Diss added. “They just needed us to work with them and their situation.”

Every year United Methodist churches support Human Relations Day, One Great Hour of Sharing, Native American Ministries Sunday, Peace with Justice Sunday, United Methodist Student Day and World Communion Sunday with their special offerings. Individuals and congregations can give to any of these ministries anytime.

— By Philip Brooks and Zack Conover, former interns with United Methodist Communications, Nashville, Tenn.

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