|Gifts you cannot find in stores|
Whether you are embracing the Advent Conspiracy call to "spend less, give more" or simply want to recognize family or friends with something other than a purchased gift, opportunities for alternative giving abound. And all are gifts of peace -- making life easier for the recipients. As you decide what missions or charities to support, consider these suggestions, as well as Radio Methos.
The Rev. Willie Babopotongerenyi Marare and his wife rely on support from their daughters and others to survive.
UMNS photo by Kathy L. Gilbert.
Central Conference Pension Initiative
The Rev. Willie Babopotongerenyi Marare of Zimbabwe has suffered imprisonment, attacks on his home and the deaths of his two sons. He retired in 1994 but preached until 2001, when he lost his eyesight. Now the United Methodist pastor and his wife look to his five daughters and "Christians" for help. He receives no pension.
In her 80s, Erna Kunstimees has been widowed for more than 10 years. When the Soviets occupied her country, she served beside her pastor husband at Methodist churches on the island of Saaremaa in the Baltic Sea. She is a surviving spouse who receives no financial support from the church.
Marare and Kunstimees are but two of the many retired pastors and widows in United Methodism's central conferences in Africa, Asia and Europe. They served for decades and now have no pensions from the church. The global economic crisis makes their lives even more difficult.
The Central Conference Pension Initiative (CCPI) launched in 2006 to raise $20 million for short-term relief and to enable the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits to develop pension programs in the central conferences. To date $18 million has been raised -- and pilot projects are underway in Liberia and Mozambique.
In a letter to pastors, Bishop Gregory V. Palmer, president of the Council of Bishops, and the CCPI steering committee are asking United Methodists to "close the gap and put us over the top, so we can provide the economic security our retired clergy and their spouses have justly earned by their faithful service."
Visit www.ccpi-umc.org or call (847) 866-4230
'Imagine No Malaria'
Sita Sangare, 4, clutches the insecticide-treated mosquito net she received during a Nov. 11 Nothing But Nets distribution in Alepe, Cte d'Ivoire. UMNS photo by Mike DuBose.
Most of the approximately 1 million deaths from malaria reported worldwide in 2006 were African children under 5 years old. In 2006, The United Methodist Church and its partners launched "Nothing But Nets" to provide insecticide-treated bed nets to families in Africa at a cost of $10 each. Building on "Nothing But Nets," "Imagine No Malaria" has the goal of eliminating deaths from malaria by 2015.
Saving Lives in Sierra Leone -- An effort to provide mosquito nets to all vulnerable people in the country in 2010. Donate online at www.UMCNothingButNets.org or send checks for UMC-Saving Lives in Sierra Leone to Foundation for United Methodist Communications, P.O. Box 440228, Nashville, TN 37244-0228.
Nothing But Nets (Advance #982015) and Community-Based Malaria Control (Advance #982009) -- Drop checks in offering plates or mail to UMCOR, P.O. Box 9068, New York, NY 10087. Put name and UMCOR Advance number on the memo line. Donate by credit card online at www.umcor.org or by calling (800) 554-8583.
When giving through The Advance, donors are assured that the designated project receives 100 percent of the donation. The Advance supports nearly 1,000 projects in 100 countries. Donors can support ministries reflecting their areas of concern. Visit www.advancinghope.org to learn about projects or order a copy of the print guide by calling United Methodist Communications Customer Service, (888) 346-4862.
And if you want to shop ...
Consider online craft stores such as that operated by Red Bird Mission. The store promotes cottage industries for Appalachian craftspeople.