Zion Calendar

Monday, 2 December 2013

Advent Generosity


The people of The United Church of Canada are being extremely generous. We are thankful for all the many gifts being given to serve God's mission. Your donations are an expression of compassion, build community and offer hope.

We are also grateful for the careful management of all financial gifts by ministers and lay people in congregations. All of this is happening in the context of stewarding gifts for our local ministry and Mission and Service, other year-end financial demands, while responding to the emergency appeal for Typhoon Haiyan.

Many year-end annual stewardship programs are wrapping up now and the focus turns to the spiritual practices and celebrations of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany. There are many worship resources (http://www.united-church.ca/planning/seasons/advent) available on the United Church website. May this be a time of hope-fulfilling connection with people in your community, joyous celebration, and loving hospitality.

Mission and Service (http://www.united-church.ca/funding/msfund) campaigns are in high gear. We remain faithfully optimistic that United Church people are doing all that they can to encourage generous giving for Mission and Service and to forward these gifts as quickly as possible so that they are put to work. Already in 2013, the whole church has raised over $15 million Current M&S Givings (http://www.stewardshiptoolkit.ca/current-m-s-givings for Mission and Service work! We will receive Mission and Service contributions for 2013 until January 31, 2014. Please consider sending (http://www.united-church.ca/files/funding/msfund/cong_remittance.pdf) your Mission and Service gifts monthly or quarterly.

Thank you for making Mission and Service a vital part of the life and ministry of your church. What we accomplish is far greater than what any one of us could do alone. The generous financial support of each congregation makes all this possible.

The extraordinary response to the Typhoon Haiyan appeal is so inspiring. As usual, people are giving very generously. As well, we know there are many gifts on route from congregations. Be assured that funds are flowing to the partners on the ground to provide relief and begin long term reconstruction.

There is a new deadline for receiving individual donations eligible for matching funds from the Canadian government. The new deadline is December 23, 2013. This may be considered a mixed blessing for administration volunteers in congregations as reporting for so many things converge.

Remember that our way of working is always with partners in the region on the ground. This emergency funding and our long-term relationship with these partners increase the capacity of the Filipino people themselves to address such emergencies. The long-term relationship is sustained by your generous gifts for Mission and Service.

Daily updates of funds received will be posted on the website (http://www.united-church.ca/haiyan). You will find some other updates on the website including the FAQ sheet .

Gifts with Vision, (http://www.giftswithvision.ca/) the United Church's giving catalogue, is more popular than last year at this time. Gifts with Vision is a great way to give gifts, honour loved ones, spark a conversation about our hope for the world. Check out the Gifts with Vision badges and banners (http://www.giftswithvision.ca/page/downloads) for posting on your church's website. Thank you for being part of these hope-inspiring activities.

At year end in a year that provided strong growth in the stock market many donors are giving gifts of stock through the United Church of Canada Foundation to their local congregation. This saves in capital gains tax and supports the generosity of members across the country. The Foundation provides this service at no fee and can be contacted at fdn@united-church.ca; 866-340-8223.

All of these financial stewardship activities are taking place as we enter the time of patient waiting for the birth of the baby Jesus into the world and into our hearts. You know the best balance and focus for your community. We thank you for encouraging generous giving. In the flurry of activity, may we all take a moment (or more) to slow down and breathe in Advent's hope, peace, joy and love that prepares us for the work of relationship with our neighbour. It is there that we will find the Christ child.

David Armour
Director of Philanthropy
President of The United Church of Canada Foundation
416-231-7680, ext. 2022, or 1-800-268-3781, ext. 2022