Ingathering continues tradition of compassion and connection
By Arthur McClanahan
Thanksgiving Ingathering 2018 continued the tradition of making a difference both locally and globally. Marking its 39th
year, the five-site experience enabled Iowa’s United Methodist faith communities to “share from our abundance…acting justly and reflecting our desire to serve God.”
Click here to watch a video report (2:44)
Combining the enthusiasm and energy of youth with a faith-nurtured understanding that God’s hope is for us to “act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly” (Micah 6:8) with the Creator, representatives of Iowa’s UM congregations saw mission presentations, worshipped in song and prayer, and gathered in community. “This is such a meaningful and inspirational experience,” said one person at the Greenfield site. “Our church worked so hard this year to put together the kits, and to see them be combined with ‘kits’ from other churches to make a difference someplace else is heart-warming.”
“The five sites - Cedar Falls, Cherokee, Greenfield, Mt. Pleasant and Webster City, work together throughout the year to make each Ingathering a success.” (Ingathering Handbook, 2018) “Each host site is just that, a host.,” the Handbook adds. It’s “the cooperation of all of our churches” that ensures “powerful mission witness,” as another Greenfield participant noted.
Despite the rain, they came
A dreary fall day, with rain and cool temperatures, didn’t hold back the steady line of cars coming to drop off school “kits” and hygiene “kits,” as well as in-kind donations and cash donations destined for district hunger grants, UMCOR (the United Methodist Committee on Relief), Church World Service financial support for blankets, Self-Help International Feeding Project, Heifer Project, and Mobility World Wide (formerly the P.E.T. Project). Then “kits” were collected and repacked in standard containers, loaded into a truck provided by Don Hummer Trucking from Oxford, IA, once collected from all the sites, will be forwarded on for distribution.
Ingathering is marked by youth retreats, extraordinary hospitality, quilts to be auctioned, and community, experienced in worship shared meals. Hospitality is often expressed in the form of a bag of fresh baked cookies, often presented by some of the younger youth to those who drive their church’s kits to the Ingathering sites. Even the steady downfall of raindrops couldn’t suppress the appreciative smiles of the people making the drop-offs when they were handed the chocolate chip specials! Cooking skills were in evidence at Greenfield, where still warm cinnamon rolls and breakfast burritos were available in the morning and pulled-pork sandwiches (with a “secret sauce”) were served for lunch.
Thanksgiving Ingathering began in 1980 at Westmar College in LeMars, Iowa. (Thanksgiving Ingathering History
) That first Ingathering “was alive with people bringing blankets, kits, animals, and corn. The people were excited, curious, expectant, joyful…Art Richardson and Bill Appelgate were elated to see the enthusiasm throughout the day, the result of what had been a casual conversation concerning the hunger and poverty around the world when so many were living in luxury…Records show more than 300 clergy and laity attended the first event and raised $44,882 in cash and in-kind gifts.”
Generosity has grown over the 39 years of the Ingathering, which is annually held on the first Saturday in November. From $44,882 raised in 1980 to $786,000 in 2000, to over $1 million in some of the intervening years, the Ingathering continues to be an “extension” ministry of the Board of Laity.
“The Thanksgiving Ingathering is a manifestation of God's loving kindness in addressing hunger problems locally and around the world. Luke 6:31 admonishes us "to do unto others as you would have them do unto you." This outpouring of goods, cash, and self reflects our peoples' desire to serve our risen Savior.” (Thanksgiving Ingathering History
(Note: This story will be updated when totals for cash and in-kind gifts received at the 2018 Thanksgiving Ingathering is available.)