In the heart of the Glenville community, a neighborhood in Northeastern Cleveland bordering Lake Erie, Cory United Methodist Church has been hard at work during the COVID-19 pandemic. Though some of its in-person ministries had to close, others, like the food pantry and kitchen, expanded as the needs of its community increased.
Since World War II, Glenville has been home to a predominantly African American population (97%). Cory UMC was founded nearly 150 years ago, one of the first Black churches in the East Ohio Conference.
It’s newest outreach, for which it received a United Methodist Voluntary Services grant from Global Ministries in 2021, is a financial education program that seeks to provide guidance that many in the community have not had the opportunity or access to learn. Made possible by gifts given on Human Relations Day, the grant supports the program and provides a small cash incentive for participants who complete the course.
Human Relations Day is a denominationwide special offering taken the Sunday before Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. Gifts received for the offering build King’s vision of “the beloved community” through programs such as Community Developers and United Methodist Voluntary Services.
Cory UMC has a legacy of providing equity in financial planning and opportunity for the Black community. In 1958, the church opened a credit union because it was hard for African American residents to access bank accounts and loans to buy houses or cars. Community members came together to pool their money to loan to each other, a kind of cooperative economics. The church also helped other Black churches provide this opportunity, opening several branch offices. The church credit union continued its mission until the early 2000s, when it merged with another credit union.
Kendrick sees the new financial education ministry as a successor to the earlier intentional efforts to provide economic opportunities in Glenville.
He is also eager to introduce the Saving Grace curriculum developed by Wespath, the United Methodist retirement and investment agency, and published by Abingdon Press. “I love the way this curriculum talks about financial well-being and freedom – it’s got a Wesleyan ring to it. Methodists talk about money in a different way, more holistic, and it makes room for people in various places and offers grace, even if you make mistakes.”
January 2022, Cory UMC will launch its first pilot project, offering workshops to about a dozen or more people. It is designed as an in-person and online hybrid program. “The pilot will include community members, but we are positioning some folks that we hope will then lead the study in other churches, kind of a ‘train the trainers’ model,” Kendrick explained. As they learn more, they will eventually open the program to the constituents served through the pantry and hot meals program.
Gifts given for Human Relations Day Sunday, January 16, support congregations like Cory UMC and the communities they serve. United Methodists can donate through their churches or give directly online.
excerpt from a story by Christie R. House, consultant writer and editor, Global Ministries and UMCOR.
One of six churchwide Special Sundays with offerings of The United Methodist Church, Human Relations Day calls United Methodists to recognize the right of all God’s children in realizing their potential as human beings in relationship with one another. The special offering benefits neighborhood ministries through Community Developers, community advocacy through United Methodist Voluntary Services and work with at-risk teens through the Youth Offender Rehabilitation Program.