On Palm Sunday, April 9, we received the One Great Hour of Sharing Offering. On Pentecost, June 4, we receive the Pentecost Offering. These are two of the four special offerings we receive each year as part of the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA). Our church leadership sees these offerings as an opportunity to be part of ministry that is much bigger than this congregation.
The PCUSA, of which Grace is a part, has over one million members. Being part of a denomination not only can mean challenges, but also opportunity. These special offerings allow us to be part of mission and ministry in the world that we might otherwise not know about. For instance, our One Great Hour of Sharing Offering goes to support mission in the United States and around the world.
In the United States, much of the money is directed to the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) program. PDA is active whenever there is a disaster such as a tornado or hurricane. As part of the initial response, PDA distributes clean up buckets and hygiene kits. Then PDA typically steps back and works with other agencies to contribute to the long-range cleanup process. After Hurricane Katrina, PDA was present in New Orleans for five years, investing in neighborhoods and working on long-term restoration.
This spring PDA granted $15,000 to communities in Southern Kansas impacted by recent wildfires. Our presbytery was able to add an additional $10,000 to this.
Here are a few examples of how the global side of the One Great Hour of Sharing offering was used in 2016:
- $10,000 went to the Mideast Evangelical Church in Iraq to provide medical supplies for refugees.
- $25,000 went to the Presbyterian Church of Rwanda for assistance with agricultural projects, water supplies, and electricity.
- $7,200 went to the Dominican Republic for an organization that seeks to improve the quality of life for people who are economically poor, by training them in technical skills, management, and education.
As one church with 400 members, we could never hope to spend five years restoring homes and hope in New Orleans, and we could never reach out to offer empowerment to people on five continents, but as part of the PCUSA we can.
The Pentecost Offering we receive on June 4 goes to ministries and mission that work with children and youth. This particular offering allows us to keep 40% and give it locally. The mission distribution team directs our portion of the offering to the Weekend Back Pack Program at the
Kansas Food Bank, which sends home food for the weekend with kids in need.
Another giving opportunity related to the PCUSA is called the per capita. Some people incorrectly refer to this as our church tax. It is not a tax. Each church in the PCUSA is asked to give a set amount of money per member of the church. This money is divided between the presbytery (local governing body), synod (regional governing body), and national offices.
Grace builds per capita into our budget, but some people like to give this in addition to their pledge. If you already give in a significant way, we don’t ask you to give on top of that, unless you would like to contribute in this way. The per capita for each Grace member in 2017 is $36.
I share this because sometimes we (myself included) forget that we are part of something much bigger than what happens at Grace Presbyterian. We are part of the body of Christ and particularly part of the PCUSA. This gives us an opportunity to share Christ’s love in ways we couldn’t do alone, and I am grateful for this.