I’ve always chuckled (inside) when someone suggests that pastors and other church leaders should enjoy the summer “off” season.
First of all, God doesn’t take an off season, so why should we? Secondly, there really isn’t any off season, even in June, July, and August. Ministry just changes. Sometimes, programs like Confirmation or certain music groups take a break. But others, like canoe trips, camps, and church picnics, are added. Those who minister to and with youth are particularly aware of this.
There is an increase in mission work each summer, too. It happens year-round, but once school gets out, summer affords some flexibility for longer trips. This June, July, and August, dozens of United Methodist churches with hundreds of volunteers will leave for cities and rural areas in all four directions from Minnesota. They go to Kansas City, Appalachia, South Dakota, Canada, Georgia, Mexico, and many other places.
Some of these people need financial help, and Minnesota United Methodists have a strong history of coming through for them. Over and over again, I’ve witnessed the generosity of those choosing not to travel helping those who do. I’m so pleased that 10 percent of each year’s Love Offering for missions goes to Volunteers in Mission (VIM) scholarships. The money is spent well. A committee, led by JoAnn Runkel, awards each scholarship and tracks how it is used.
The rest of the Love Offering is spent well, too. The conference’s Mission Promotion Team selects and keeps track of each year’s recipients. Annually, a local and an international mission are selected to receive funds.
At the 2015 Annual Conference, we received about $75,000 for this year’s three recipients: Grace Children’s Center in Vietnam, church-school partnerships grants, and VIM scholarships for first-time participants. (Learn more about the three recipients here.) Donations are welcome throughout the remainder of this year as we try to match or surpass last year’s Love Offering total of $121,000. We can do it!
Thank you for your gifts. Those not taking time “off” from ministry, along with the children in Vietnam and in our local schools, appreciate your support.
Rev. Lyndy Zabel is director of missional impact for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church