By: Christa Meland
Twenty-three United Methodist churches throughout Minnesota are positively impacting those living in crisis around the world through their recent donations. These congregations collectively donated nearly 11,000 pounds of supplies to the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) last month as part of a statewide collection effort.
UMCOR will distribute the supplies to Haiti and parts of the U.S. to assist with Hurricane Ian relief, and to help those navigating the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
“We are working close to the front-line providing humanitarian aid,” said J. Pasko, a relief worker in East Ukraine. “It is really difficult, so your supplies are appreciated, and we thank you!”
UMCOR and the Midwest Mission Distribution Center, one of its hubs, put out a call several months ago for urgently needed supplies—including cleaning kits; laundry detergent; dish soap; household cleaner; gently used rakes, shovels, non-electric tools, and blankets; and electric sewing machines.
Rev. Lyndy Zabel, Minnesota Conference director of community engagement, then organized a collection tour, with a 26-foot truck stopping at six churches so that Minnesota United Methodists could answer the call.
One of the collection sites was Glenwood United Parish, whose members also donated to the effort.
Rev. Yolanda Williams said Glenwood wanted to participate because it is important that local churches recognize their connectedness to ministries around the globe. She also noted that while it is easier to write a check, there’s something meaningful about going out and shopping for needed items.
“I became more aware of how the items for which I was shopping are often the things I take for granted,” she said. “Purchasing them for others gave me not only a new appreciation for the access I have but also how blessed it is to see need and to be able to contribute to the meeting of that need. They are not just cleaning items but they are necessary to the two things I think most exemplifies Jesus' ministry: healing and restoration.”
Members of Glenwood United Parish also embraced the giving opportunity, with many families dropping off items and people excitedly talking about the effort during fellowship time on a recent Sunday. What really amazed Williams is that this week, not even a month after having given to UMCOR, Glenwood families went out and bought Christmas gifts as part of a local program to help families in need.
“It was as if the seeds from UMCOR giving grew,” she said. “This, for me, is church vitality. It's not just in the volunteering and the giving, but in all of that coming out of an understanding of the blessings we have received in our relationship with God through Jesus and out of deep gratitude for all God is.”
Thank you to these churches for donating supplies and healing a broken world in tangible ways:
Aldersgate UMC (St. Louis Park)
UMC of Anoka
Brooklyn UMC (Brooklyn Center)
Coon Rapids UMC
Evangel UMC (Rochester)
Faith UMC (St. Anthony)
Glenwood United Parish
Hennepin Avenue UMC (Minneapolis)
Hope UMC (Blue Earth)
Joyful Spirit UMC (Wadena)
Messiah UMC (Plymouth)
Open Doors UMC (Wells & Kiester)
Path of Grace UMC (Maplewood)
Resurrection UMC (Hastings)
Riverside UMC (Park Rapids)
Sauk Centre UMC
Watch for information about future collection tours, and consider inviting your church to participate.
“I would encourage any church, large or small, to consider this a part of their year's mission opportunities,” said Williams. “It is a project that does not rely on lots of volunteers or even lots of young volunteers, and it can have a great impact on not just the receivers, but the givers as well.”
Christa Meland is director of communications for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church