On Sunday night, 03/16/2014, as part of our continuing Lenten Mission Program, The Reverend Gary Richards educated those in attendance of their church’s involvement in creating a school in Ntonso, Ghana. In the early 1990’s, with many Ghanians in their congregation, the church raised $500 to purchase windows for the Methodist Church in Ntonso. However, by the time the money was received, the windows had been purchased and the decision was made to use the money to start a new nursery school – the New Covenant United Methodist Church Prepatory School. Since this initial donation, the church continues to support the school and the church providing both financial and spiritual support. Here are some interesting facts learned during the discussion:
- The New Covenant UMC is dedicated to their missions outside their church walls
- There are 180 students that attend the school
- Malaria continues to be a problem in Ghana, due to the lack of a strong public health system in the country
- In addition to providing education, the children are fed two meals a day
- Parents pay a nominal amount to cover the cost of the food and teacher’s salaries
- All classes are taught in English
- Gary Richards was in the Peace Corps earlier in his career
- Most children can get an education in Ghana up to grade 6. After that, it becomes very expensive.
- Many families in the area are employed in farming and arts and fabric.
- Communication in the area (phone and internet) are widely available, though many cannot afford them
- The group is actively planning their scheduled mission trip in the summer of 2014.
For more information on New Covenant UMC’s Ghana program, including ways you can support this fantastic mission program, please check out their website selecting the following link: Ghana Mission
Red Cross Blood Drive
Rockville United Methodist Church held their annual Red Cross Blood Drive on February 19, 2014. We successfully collected 46 pints of blood, include several “Double Red” collections. While the weather initially was cooperative, the rain and cold temperatures came in during the early evening, turning the parking lot into a skating rink. However, even with the bad weather, we were still able to collect the same amount of blood as we did last year.
As always, this event requires a significant amount of participation by many members of the church. I would like to thank all of those who provided food, worked the canteen, assisted with check-in, recruited volunteers and donors and prepared the church for the event. In particular, I’d like to thank the GOMers for putting up signs, Sylvia for her continued guidance and planning, and Bridget for picking up the slack whenever necessary. I’d also like to thank all of those who braved the elements to donate. Whether you were successful in giving or not, you truly do make a difference. If you were unable to attend, but would like to find out more, please go to the Red Cross website to find an event in your area.
From the Hockanum Valley Community Council
The “Greatest Needed Foods” for the month of March are:
- cans of pork and beans or baked beans
- instant oatmeal and cereal
- boxes of macaroni and cheese.
CASH & GIFT CARDS
Hockanum Valley Community Council, Inc.
29 Naek Road, Suite 5a
Vernon, CT 06066
What is the difference between the two posts from Sue Bird below, the first being from the recent post in December’s newsletter and the second from October’s?
December: A total of 314 items were donated to the Tri- Town Pantry since the November Newsletter was published. The “Greatest Needed Foods” for the month of December are: canned soup, canned tomatoes, pudding or fruit cups and apple or cranberry juice.
November: A total of 69 items were donated to the Tri- Town Pantry since the October Newsletter was published. The “Greatest Needed Foods” for the month of November are: boxed stuffing, canned cranberry sauce, instant mashed potatoes, canned gravy and canned vegetables.
The answer I’m looking for is the number of items donated increased significantly as a result of our Thanksgiving ingathering. The ingathering event each year is yet another vital mission of our our church, not only for what it provides for those in need in our community, but also the fact that it connects the children of our church to our collective missions. We all know that children learn much more from doing than from being told. I truly believe that what has motivated me to participate on so many community activities is rooted in my participation in activities such as the ingathering when I was a child.
The timing of the Ingathering was particularly appropriate this year. Nearly 424,000 Connecticut residents whose Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits were cut on Nov. 1. as discussed in the linked article: Snap Cuts. The need grows, yet our government is not stepping forward to assist, but is in fact retreating. Therefore, our community and our church need to step up the these additional needs. Wouldn’t it be nice if the 300 food items we collect in November could be matched (or even exceeded) in December! How about in each month of 2014? For those of you with children, involve them in this mission. When you are at the grocery store with your children (I remember how fun this was!) ask them to take a couple of items off the shelf, have them place them on the conveyor belt, and ask the bagger (if any still exist) to put them in a separate bag. Have the children carry them to the car, and have them bring them into church on Sunday and place them in the collection bin. Let’s turn an annual teaching event into one that lasts year round. And for those of us that are fortunate not to have to bring children to the grocery store, we are all children of God. Follow these same steps, and perhaps you will find the child-like joy in your heart as well.
God is Good!
During our stewardship campaign, I was honored to stand in front of the congregation and give my thoughts on why the mission initiatives of the church are so important to me. Often times, we can only guess as to the impact of our deeds on the lives we touch. However, every once in a while, we get direct feedback on how these seemingly small acts on our part have huge impacts on others, as was the case with this year’s back to school clothes program (http://www.rockumchurch.com/2013/09/18/back-to-school/), where the recipient responded “I may not know a single thing about you, but I definitely know you’re my guardian angel. Great things just started happening once we learned of you! I will be paying your kindness forward when I’m able”.
I also discussed some of my personal challenges this year, and how we have a tendency to focus on the negative. It was therefore, very timely for me to see an article entitled 30 days of gratitude which suggested that we should acknowledge and reflect on one thing each day in November (rather than one day of Thanksgiving) that we are grateful for. My list for the first 25 days is below. Next time you see me, ask me for my list of my last 5.
• My Wife, Bridget • My community • Strangers
• My Daugher, Kady • My father • Music
• My Son, Daniel • My mother • Technology
• My church • Those that serve • Our Servicemen and women
• My job • The food on our table • Seasons
• My health • Laughter • Peace makers
• My country • Sunshine • Our environment
• My faith • My senses • Children
• My friends
For each item, I am making a donation of $1 to the mission program of the church. I am requesting that ½ goes towards our mission shares and ½ towards a Stop Hunger Now packaging event that will be occurring in the spring, ideally at our church. Please take the time to consider what you are grateful for, and if you are so moved, think about how you, too, might “pay it forward”. As is written in Proverbs (11:24), “One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.”. God is good!
Take the 30 days of gratitude challenge
So, while at work today, when I should have been focusing on my companies monthly close process, I happened to see a Facebook post about “30 Days of Gratitude”. With a quick google search, I came upon the following website: 30 Days of Gratitude. By clicking on the “request” menu item, I downloaded a rather lengthy (50 page) PDF file which provides 30 days of “heartfelt gratitude exercises”. When I got home (the company’s books won’t close on their own) I skimmed through the document, noticing it had a definite Yoga bent to it. As someone who has taken some Yoga classes (and for those of you who know me, you are right, it wasn’t pretty) I can appreciate the mind-body connection. The first exercise is dedicated to awakening, where they ask you to take a couple of deep breaths, settle, open you eyes and to look around. They then pose the question “What do you see?”, but without putting a label on the things you see (a tree isn’t a tree but a miracle of colors, shapes, and character) and to just look with awe at everything. Because I am reading this at 10:00 PM, I will save this exorcise for the early morning, when my mind is sharp!
In addition to the exercises, there are thought provoking comments such as “The only people with which you should try to get even are those that helped you!” or that according to aerodynamic studies, a bumblebee’s weight is too heavy for its tiny wings.
As we enter the month of Thanksgiving, we should consider giving thanks not for one day, but on every day of the month. Perhaps if we can get in this habit, we can make every day Thanksgiving. I would encourage you all to look at this website, downloading the document, and consider taking the journey with me. I would also like to connect this to the mission of the church, and a particular event. Early in 2014, we are hoping (and I know this hope will become a reality) to host a Stop Hunger Now packaging event. If every day we take the time to focus on one thing that we can be thankful for, would we be willing to put a quarter or a dollar in a jar and donate it this great cause? If so, we will be well on our way to share our gratitude with those less fortunate. Please consider taking this 30 day journey with me. Please add your thoughts or comments, and please, let me know what you are grateful for!
What’s essential in our diets but missing from most food banks? Must Be The Milk!
Fresh milk and dairy products make up less than 5% of American food bank inventories.
It’s time to think outside the can!
The Great Gallon Give will be taking place from October 4-13th at Stop & Shop locations in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
Print a voucher from MustBeTheMilk.com or look for a voucher in the Stop & Shop dairy aisle to donate $4, the price of a gallon of milk, to a participating food bank.
Having just come from our first Church Council Committee meeting after taking a couple of months off over the summer, we discussed our Church obligation relative to Mission Shares. For those that are new to the Methodist Church, or perhaps those that just never familiarized themselves with what Mission Shares are, we thought this would be a good forum to provide some context as to what exactly are “Mission Shares”. More importantly, we will provide some context as to why are they so important to the vitality of not only our local church, but the United Methodist Church and the world in general.
This is certainly more than can be covered in one blog entry, so over the next month or so, we will be providing additional information and context relative to Mission Shares. For this entry, we will focus on the areas that Mission Shares support.
Basically, they provide support in three areas: World Missions, New England Missions, and Ministry Support. Each is detailed below.
Fund 1 – World Missions
Our connectional giving for mission and ministry beyond our Conference.
- Provides funding to General Conference ministries through World Service, the Black College Fund, and Africa University
- Supports the General Episcopal Fund and Episcopal office operation
- Supports the Ministerial Education Fund
- Supports 13 United Methodist seminaries
- Supports ministerial education programs carried out by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry Division of Ordained Ministry
- 25 percent of the funds stay in the conference, providing scholarships for seminary education and ministerial continuing education
Fund 2 – New England Missions
Support for the work and missions of our New England Conference.
- Provides salary and support for Camp Aldersgate, Camp Mechuwana, Rolling Ridge Conference and Retreat Center, and Wanakee United Methodist Center
- Supports the Rhode Island United Methodist Association, Spiral Arts, Urban and Town & Country ministries, addressing the needs of the poor and marginalized in their communities
- Funds campus ministries at Bridgewater State College
- Provides support for our covenants with Iglesia de Christo in Nicaragua and The West Angola Conference
- Congregational development work in forming new congregations and re-invigorating existing faith communities
- Regional youth councils and CCYM
- Provides salaries for conference resource staff
Fund 3 – Ministry Support
Ministry support and resources.
- Assures pastoral leadership for congregations all across the New England Conference who are unable to provide an acceptable minimum salary
- Provides salaries and office support for District Superintendents
- Funds activities of the Board of Ordained Ministry as it provides oversight and support to candidates for ministry
- Supports the legislative work of the General, Jurisdictional and Annual Conferences
- Maintains historical records and documents of our churches
- Maintains conference-provided housing for District Superintendents and conference staff
- Supports the New England Conference United Methodist Center that provides ministry resources to local churches
- Provides property/liability and workers compensation insurance coverage for conference camps/retreat center enabling campers fees to be lower
- Provides salaries for conference administrative ministry staff
The next entry will cover Rockville United Methodist Church’s financial obligation to each of these three areas.
I got a real kick over this year’s K-Mart television ads for back to school clothes. They gave me a whole new perspective on the old (and usually offensive) “yo mama” jokes as well as riding on the school bus. I’ve included the links below in case you haven’t seen them.
K-Mart Your Mom
KMart – My bus is my limo
While it’s been a while since I road the school bus, I certainly remember my school year always started with a trip to Sears for the annual back-to-school shopping experience. Of course, when I was older, I may have dreaded the shopping experience, but looking back it always felt good to be looking my best on that first day of school. However, for many children and parents in our community, the thought of “new” back to school clothes would be an impossibility. However, for the last several years, RUMC has participated in the Vernon Social Services sponsored “Back to School Clothes” program, in which organizations such as RUMC bring this dream of new back to school clothes to reality. This year, project coordinator Sylvia Yoder was assigned 7 year-old and 5 year-old sisters. Based on the generosity of the congregation she was able to purchase the following items for each child:
- Winter Coat
- sweatshirt jacket and sweatpants
- 2 pairs of jeans
- jean skirt with leggings
- long top with leggings
- short-sleeved shirt
- 3 long-sleeved shirts
- $50 gift card (each) for sneakers
Do we feel good about this? Absolutely. Should we feel good about this? Again, Absolutely. Story over? Absolutely not!
On September 10th, we received a form letter back from the Vernon Department of Social Services. Obviously they were thankful for our contribution. However, also enclosed in the envelope was a thank you letter from the mother of the 3 children we supported, as well as cards and drawings from the children. While the complete letter and the children’s cards are posted on the Missions Bulletin Board in Fellowship hall, let me share a couple of items from the letter:
- “We appreciate your generosity so much & you have helped restore some of the hope in our family.”
- “This program reminds me how amazing people truly are & gives me hope & renewed drive that we may be down now, but we will be up again. All it takes is some patience and faith”.
- “I may not know a single thing about you, but I definitely know you’re my guardian angel. Great things just started happening once we learned of you!”
- “I’m so thankful people like you still exist today & I will be paying your kindness forward when I’m able”.
After reading this, we should all ask ourselves who is the giver of the gift, and who is the receiver? Based on the letter, I think we received much more than we gave.
God is Good!