Connecting key to success of One Great Hour of Sharing
Share as you are able. The oldest special mission offering of the United Church of Christ, One Great Hour of Sharing, has been transforming lives around the world since 1949. Each year in March, UCC members, through gifts to the One Great Hour of Sharing offering, make it possible for the UCC to provide disaster relief, refugee assistance, development aid and more.
As congregations across the wider church prepare to take up the annual offering on Sunday, March 15, Phyllis Richard wants every church—big or small—to know that every dollar makes a difference. OGHS contributions in 2013 added up to $2.48 million, with an additional $720,000 received to support designated disaster-relief initiatives.
“One Great Hour of Sharing is a way for small churches to be part of something much bigger,” said Richards, program associate for the UCC Global Sharing of Resources team. “In instances when people look at the need and feel it’s too big for them to make a difference, we want them to know that when we work together to do our part, there is enough for all.”
This example is evident in Connecticut, where one small-membership church gives more to OGHS than it does to any other offering, while two other congregations in the state gave nearly $10,000 each in contributions in 2014.
The Southwest Region of the Connecticut Conference plays an active role in promoting the message of OGHS to encourage people to share as they are able.
“We feel that One Great Hour of Sharing is an important way that our churches contribute to the global ministry of the United Church of Christ,” said the Rev. Eric Anderson, minister of communication and technology for the Connecticut Conference of the UCC. “So, we do try to amplify the efforts of Global Ministries’ to that offering. We repost the announcements through various social media channels, and we directly address our local pastors to say to them that this is important and ask congregations and friends to take opportunity to support it.”
Anderson estimated that about 75 to 80 percent of the congregations throughout the conference participate in the OGHS offering.
“They understand that this is giving that really improves peoples’ lives,” he said. “It gives people health and homes. They can’t always see what happens though Basic Support, but with One Great Hour of Sharing, they trust that it will help other people.”
Already this year, Richards is recognizing the OGHS contributions from churches like St. John’s UCC in San Francisco, the top per-capita giving church at $65.34. Both of the church’s co-pastors, the Rev. Merida Wilson and the Rev. Geoffrey Gaskins, were excited to receive an award, as they were moved to tears as Richards presented them with a plaque commemorating their achievement.
“They seemed truly touched to have received an award,” Richards said. “They are a small church doing big things for OGHS and in their own community.”
With help from international partners, 91 cents of each OGHS dollar helps provide clean water and food, education and health care, small business micro-credit, emergency relief, and advocacy and resettlement for refugees and displaced persons. OGHS also supports domestic and international ministries for disaster preparedness and response.
Nearly 70 percent of UCC congregations took part in OGHS, which is one of the five special mission offerings of the UCC. Donations have long supported emergency relief efforts, disaster response, sustainable development and social services in 138 countries around the world.
“A majority of the One Great Hour of Sharing offering goes to support water, hunger, disaster relief and empowerment programs,” Richards said. “By addressing those issues, we address some of the root causes of suffering in our world.”
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