Special Sundays call for generous giving

United Methodist together give and support many missions and programs that further God's work around the world. Among the giving channels are six churchwide special Sundays, during which congregations large and small collect special offerings for particular causes.

"Special Sundays are our celebration as a global church," says Bishop Hee-Soo Jung of the Wisconsin Annual Conference and a member of the General Board of Global Ministries. "These invitations to give are a kind of global communion where we think about how we can live out God's call for us. In responding," he notes, "we intentionally lift up important missionary engagement."

While the One Great Hour of Sharing is best known, five other special Sundays provide ways to help with ministries as diverse as providing scholarships, working toward lasting peace on the Korean peninsula and establishing new Native American faith communities.

Jara Reya passes the collection plate at West Nashville United Methodist Church in Nashville, Tenn. Photo by Kathleen Barry/UMNS

Part of what makes churchwide special Sundays different from the other 46 Sundays is that each invites United Methodists to make an additional offering designated for a particular ministry emphasis. Dates are designated for celebrating each; however, local churches may choose other dates that are more convenient. Supporters can make gifts on the day their congregation celebrates the special Sunday or online anytime at www.umcgiving.org.

Each special Sunday is an opportunity to teach and celebrate the power of connection in ministry, explains Bishop Hope Morgan Ward, president of the General Board of Global Ministries. As individuals and families learn how their dollars will help brothers and sisters in different ways, they have the opportunity to support the work of Christ far and near. "The dollars given," she says, "impact lives both globally and in the communities in which we live." Ward leads the North Carolina Annual Conference.

Each special Sunday offering supports distinctive ministries, and supporters can tell of lives changed.

Human Relations Day, set on the Sunday before the birthday observance of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in the United States. Your generous gifts support missions, programs and projects that encourage social justice, Community Developers Program that works in racial- and ethnic-minority communities, United Methodist Voluntary Services and Youth Offender Rehabilitation Programs.

One Great Hour of Sharing is celebrated on the fourth Sunday in Lent, One Great Hour of Sharing gifts help the denomination to offer refuge and relief to some of the world's most vulnerable people — in the United States and worldwide — during times of distress.

Native American Ministries Sunday, the second Sunday after Easter, honors the gifts and contributions of Native Americans by providing scholarships for seminarians, planting Native American churches and cultivating Native American outreach. In addition, annual conferences keep half of the funds to develop and strengthen Native American ministries in their conferences.

Peace with Justice Sunday offerings are shared on the first Sunday after Pentecost. Your gifts support programs that work for peace, love and compassion worldwide and within the your local annual conference

On World Communion Sunday, observed on the first Sunday of October, offerings provide college scholarships for racial- and ethnic-minority undergraduate students in the United States and for international students — graduates and undergraduates – as well as those seeking second careers in church-related vocations.

Finally, United Methodist Student Day, observed the last Sunday in November, provides scholarships and to deserving United Methodist students. Scholarships assist students from diverse backgrounds working toward various degrees.

Carrie Madren,  freelance writer, Great Falls, Va.

This article was originally published in Interpreter, January-February 2014. Interpreter, www.interpretermagazine.org, is a ministry of United Methodist Communications.