Celebrating the Spirit of Giving!!!
As we wrap up 2014 and celebrate the Christmas season, we want to take this opportunity to celebrate the spirit of giving at SUMC. Who is supported by our giving? Who are our partners in Outreach ministry?
You may have heard that SUMC “tithes” our pledges by allocating 10% to fund the Outreach Commission’s budget. SUMC is probably in the minority in “tithing” 10% of its pledge revenue to Outreach. For 2014, that amount was $60,800, which was used to support a variety of organizations that focus on mission work, global needs, and local/regional needs. This year we have supported 33 organizations and look forward to continuing to be partners with them. Internationally, we support three missionaries: Belinda Forbes in Nicaragua, David and Lori Persons in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Danielle Martinelli in London. We also sponsor a child in Bolivia through Kaya International and support students at the Mulungwishi Theological Seminary in Congo. Our work continues in Dominica through our family sponsorship and teacher salaries support program. We also support the New Horizon School in Paraguay and NITCA, an organization in Nicaragua that ministers to the barrios. This year, we were happy to support Russ Halliday, a youth that grew up at SUMC, as he initiated a project to protect the wetlands in the Philippines where he was serving in the Peace Corp. We celebrated 70 years of Heifer Project this year and continue to support them in conjunction with the Sunday School children.
- Globally, SUMC has contributed to several projects through UMCOR (The United Methodist Committee on Relief – provides funds and supplies to people in need all over the US and world) including the ongoing recovery from domestic disasters including the tornados in Alabama. This year we were one of the largest New England contributors to the Imagine No Malaria Campaign run through the conference. Funds contributed to this purpose are fighting malaria but also the Ebola epidemics. We supported Doctors Without Borders also in response to the Ebola Epidemic.
- Locally, SUMC contributes to six food pantries in surrounding towns, The Greater Boston Food Bank, Greenwood’s Shalom After School Program, Crossroads Shelter (a shelter for Men), Pathways Shelter (for women and children), Habitat for Humanity’s upcoming build in Wayland, and Rosie’s Place, The Pine Street Inn, Project Bread, the Metrowest Free Medical Program, and United Methodist Economic Ministry in Maine. We also have supported individuals struggling to pay bills due to illnesses such as cancer through Heaps of Hope and victims of domestic abuse through Hagar’s Sisters. Outreach contributes to Social justice organizations also including the Mass Coalition for the Homeless, Bread for the World, Cooperative Metro Ministries, New Dimensions, Reconciling Ministries, and Community Change.
But that is only the “tip of the iceberg.”
In addition to our “Pledge Tithe,” the Outreach Commission receives an annual distribution from the SUMC General Endowment Fund. For 2014, this amount was $7,800 and was used to provide additional support for HGRM (Household Goods Recycling of Massachusetts), Pathways Shelter, MetroWest Free Medical Program, Heaps of Hope and the Matty Eapen Foundation.
We have a very small endowment for a church our size. Yet, fully 27% of our endowment assets are dedicated to support Outreach and 15% are dedicated to support Sunny Hill, which is a benefit to the Sudbury community at large. An even larger percentage of the Endowment Fund’s annual distributions go to Outreach causes (46%), which also includes the Hammond Fund that is dedicated to Outreach building projects, the McBride Scholarship Fund which supports the Greenwood After-School Program sponsored by our sister church in Dorchester, and the Cavanaugh/Karian Fund which supports suicide prevention at LSHS.
In addition, we collect and donate funds for a wide variety of causes: almost $10,000 for “Imagine No Malaria” through the auction that Outreach ran this fall; A Bed for Every Child through the Mass Coalition for the Homeless; Muffins for Missions monthly; Christmas wreath sales; holiday cards and gifts for Concord Prison Outreach; Connexions Concert funds; donations to UMCOR; the Pastor’s Emergency Fund, etc. In the first eleven months of 2014, these efforts raised and donated more than $64,500 to a wide variety of charitable causes.
Finally, our budget includes paying 100% of our “Mission Shares” assessment to the New England Methodist Conference each and every year. In 2014, this was $84,600. Pastor Joel tells us that many, many United Methodist churches do not pay 100% of their Mission Shares Assessment as a cost cutting measure. To the best of our knowledge, we have never paid less than 100% of our Mission Shares.
When we add the entire amounts above up, the total for 2014 is about $222,000, which is about 30% of our 2014 Operating Budget. For 2015, our Operating Budget anticipates spending an identical amount on Outreach & Missions.
And the above does not include all the “in-kind” Outreach work that SUMC members do through the church that we cannot even begin to measure in dollars, such as: making Lasagnas for Rosie’s Place since 1974 – that’s 40 years of lasagna for women in desperate situations; Christmas gifts for children through the Peanut Butter Tree for who knows how long; Habitat for Humanity builds; the Coat Drive; volunteering to serve meals and distribute food at Open Table in Maynard; deliver groceries to the six food pantries; distribute welcome baskets, bus passes, sheets, blankets, and diapers to residents at the 2 shelters we support; and sponsorship of families and teachers in Dominica, to name a few.
On top of all this, it is worth noting that SUMC’s Sudbury Savoyards, whose annual donation to UMCOR is included in the $64,500 mentioned above, has contributed over $200,000 in the past 40 years to UMCOR; that SUMC is almost single- handedly building a Meeting Hall for our sister Church in Dominica, and is a large supporter of Habitat for Humanity’s recent projects.
But most importantly of all, we can never really put a monetary figure on the “good” that our Outreach and Mission donations do. I strongly believe that a “dollar donated” has the “ripple effect” that was the theme of our 2015 Stewardship Emphasis, and that by the time the ripples of each dollar we donate has worked its way through the economy, it is adding much more than a dollar’s worth of impact on people’s lives.