“Hannah UMC near Gordo, AL has done something rather noteworthy,” says pastor Joe Acker. “For the second year this small membership church has made a significant contribution to missions.”
Last year the congregation’s special Christmas offering was sent to Uganda to support work with refugees in the Kaibermaido district. This year the Christmas offering went to Latvia to provide vitamins for elderly people who are ministered to by the 13 Methodist congregations in Latvia as well as the children in the impoverished village of Sarkani. This was actually a continuation of a ministry in Latvia other United Methodists had started years earlier.
In 2006-2007 the Southwest District gathered vitamins for this purpose and they were carried by United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM) teams to Latvia. In 2007-2008 the Fairview church in Maryville, TN made it possible to continue this program by providing the vitamins. In 2008-2009 one family in the North Alabama Conference made it possible for the UMC in Latvia to purchase the needed vitamins.
Vitamins are especially important because in the bitter winters of Latvia the diets of the elderly and the poor are often reduced to potatoes only. Distribution of the vitamins is made through the Methodist congregations of Latvia.
So in 2009-2010 the Hannah church set a goal of raising $7,000 to purchase vitamins. When the offering was collected the total was $8,250. The church decided to send all of this money to Latvia and to instruct the Latvian district office to use the extra $1,250 where it was needed most.
The money arrived one day after a request came in from the Hope Center, a home for unwed mothers and their babies, to use funds to purchase gas for heating the Hope Center building. The cost of the gas, which had to be prepaid, was over $1,000.
Acker explains, “They had determined that there was not enough money in the Hope Center bank account to buy any gas. District Superintendent Gita Mednis called this gift a Godsend.”