Written by Phyllis Richards
You change lives through One Great Hour of Sharing. In these weeks before the recommended OGHS offering date of March 30th, we would like to send you a weekly note with stories of how you have Changed Lives through OGHS during the past year. Thank you. We also invite generous 2014 participation.
When a tornado ripped through Illinois in November 2013, you were there to offer presence and hope. Residents of the small river town of Brookport/Unionville on the southern tip of the state were among those most affected by the tornado. Houses were twisted on their foundations. Mobile homes were uprooted. The town experienced fatalities and lives throughout the area were disrupted. The national news media was not there – but the church was. YOU were there. Through One Great Hour of Sharing you accompanied Zion UCC in the nearby town of Metropolis as they organized themselves to reach out to the most vulnerable with meals for survivors and clean-up workers. Pastor James D. Nelson, thanks you. “Your reaching out to us as we minister to the area has left an indelible imprint upon us. We are more proud than ever to be part of the United Church of Christ and the Illinois South Conference.”
And now to Syria. It’s not safe to stay in her home. Her children can’t go outside the house to go to school. The family has to escape, moving quickly from home, jobs, life. Now she stays in a refugee camp just across the national border. It’s not clear that the local government will allow them to stay, but for now the family is safe and grateful. Syrian refugees populate camps established in near-by nations. Political maneuvering in international relationships catches people in the middle. Lives are disrupted and broken. YOU have been part of providing refuge, hospitality, stability for Syrian families, now refugees. YOU have been part of the solution, making a positive difference in the world.
I am pleased to make your acquaintance in my new role with the UCC One Great Hour of Sharing as of January 1 and the retirement of Susan Sanders, administrator of OGHS for the past 13 years. During worship last Sunday my local UCC congregation celebrated the epiphany season with the song,
“I am the light of the world. You people come and follow me.
If you follow and love, you’ll learn the mystery, Of what you were meant to do and be.”
The music makes toes tap. The lyrics by Jim Strathdee in response to a poem by Howard Thurman give us words to proclaim “to find the lost and lonely one; to heal that broken soul with love; to feed the hungry children with warmth and good food; to feel the earth below the sky above.”
I realized again that through One Great Hour of Sharing © this is just what we get to do together.
OGHS is one of the All-Church Offerings of the United Church of Christ. Your congregation can be 5 for 5 by participating in the One Great Hour of Sharing, Strengthen the Church, Neighbors in Need, and Christmas Fund offerings and through generous support of Our Church’s Wider Mission (OCWM).
The establishment of an OGHS Endowment is coming soon. Help provide long-term stability for the UCC’s systematic and relational participation in disaster recovery, sustainable development and refugee relief.
Sharing in God’s Love,
Mary Schaller Blaufuss
Global Sharing of Resources Team Leader