One Great Hour of Sharing 2014
from Global Ministries
One Great Hour of Sharing lays the foundation for the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) to share God's love with communities around the world.
This material appears in Interpreter Magazine, March/April 2014 edition. The issue is dedicated to the work and ministry of UMCOR.
By Barbara Dunlap-Berg
For more than 50 years, historically on the fourth Sunday in Lent, United Methodist congregations and their predecessors have participated in a special One Great Hour of Sharing offering. Their gifts lay the foundation for the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) ministries of hope and healing.
Donations UMCOR receives through this offering, along with other undesignated gifts made throughout the year, cover UMCOR’s costs of doing business. One Great Hour of Sharing and undesignated gifts make it possible for UMCOR to use 100 percent of all other contributions made through The Advance and other channels on the projects donors specify, instead of on administrative or fundraising costs.
UMCOR receives no World Service or other apportionment funds, so without the special offerings and other gifts, UMCOR would not exist.
According to the General Council on Finance and Administration Report in the Advance Daily Christian Advocate for the 2012 General Conference, “General Board of Global Ministries receipts from the World Service Fund account for about 60 percent of the current annual operating budget. … World Service funding is an income source for the General Board of Global Ministries but not for UMCOR….”
The report continues, “An average of $2.7 million is received each year from the One Great Hour of Sharing offering that covers a significant portion of the administrative costs of UMCOR.”
“When we say that we cover administrative or ‘overhead’ fees through the One Great Hour of Sharing,” said James Rollins, UMCOR director of communications, “we mean salaries for all headquarters staff and the majority of field office staff, rent, supplies and electricity. Should the One Great Hour of Sharing offering not cover all of these expenses, we can pull from the UMCOR Undesignated Advance #999895. Additionally, we cover the expense of some staff in the field offices through institutional grants [such as USAID] where we can add salary expenses to the overall grant.
“We do not take any portion of [designated] Advance specials to cover any of these expenses. This is why the One Great Hour of Sharing offering is so vital to our work. It literally keeps the lights on.”
Because UMCOR keeps operating costs under 10 percent of its total budget, undesignated gifts may actually exceed UMCOR’s administrative needs. When that happens, gifts go to under-funded programs, where the need is the greatest. They also may enable UMCOR to respond to disasters immediately, even before specific fundraising begins.
The following denominations also observe One Great Hour of Sharing/Week of Compassion:
- American Baptist Church,
- AME Zion,
- Christian Church (Disciples of Christ),
- Church of the Brethren,
- Cumberland Presbyterian Church,
- Presbyterian Church (USA),
- Reformed Church in America,
- United Church of Christ.
Offerings support disaster relief and rehabilitation efforts linked to each denomination. In various ways, all work in cooperation with Church World Service (CWS), the relief, development and refugee-assistance arm of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.
UMCOR has a long-standing partnership with CWS and provides funding to it and to CWS partners through grants. In the United States, UMCOR works closely with CWS in refugee resettlement. The CWS Blankets and Crop Walk are Advance projects.
One Great Hour of Sharing
One Great Hour of Sharing, one of United Methodism’s six churchwide Special Sundays with offerings, enables UMCOR to live out its mission to alleviate human suffering.
UMCOR’s specialized ministries — responding in disaster, providing relief supplies around the world, fighting hunger, alleviating poverty, offering hospitality to immigrants and refugees, and promoting global health and strong hospital systems — assist the most vulnerable people whose need is greatest. Often, the offering benefits under-funded programs.
One Great Hour of Sharing gifts lay the foundation for UMCOR to share God’s love. The offering underwrites UMCOR’s “costs of doing business.” This helps UMCOR to keep the promise that 100 percent of any gift to a specific UMCOR project will go toward that project, not for administrative costs.
United Methodists celebrate One Great Hour of Sharing on the fourth Sunday in Lent (March 30, 2014), although gifts to the offering can be made anytime. Through this special offering and UMCOR, we share the goodness of life with those who hurt. Consider a few recent examples.
- After Super Typhoon Haiyan, which struck the Philippines last November, UMCOR is working to rebuild homes that are more resilient.
- In Democratic Republic of Congo, UMCOR is preparing local leaders to steer international health-care efforts.
- In Haiti, UMCOR classes are helping women start and succeed in small businesses.
- With UMCOR’s assistance, residents in flood-damaged Colorado towns are beginning long-term recovery.
As of Nov. 30, gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing in 2013 totaled $2,421,338, about 33 cents per U.S. member.
Bulletin insert/offering envelopes and other resources to promote the offering can be ordered by calling 888-346-3862 or visiting www.umcgiving.org.
Barbara Dunlap-Berg is associate editor of Interpreter and Interpreter Online.