2023 Annual Conference special offering to support new ways of offering Christ
Each year North Alabama collects a special offering during our Annual Conference session. The money goes to support mission work locally, regionally and globally.
In 2022, the generous North Alabama United Methodists gave $74,841 through the 2022 Special Offering “Love & Support for Ukrainian Refugees” and an additional $13,022 during the in-person December 10 called special session that was earmarked for UMCOR’s response to Hurricane Ian.
In keeping with this year's Annual Conference theme, Offer Christ Every Day, the 2023 Special Offering will go to support ministries of evangelism here in North Alabama and around the world.
This year's Annual Conference guest speakers Dr. Jack Levison and Rev. Dr. Priscilla Pope-Levison will be focusing on the Annual Conference theme of offering Christ to equip local churches and individuals in different types of ministries of evangelism to reach more people in their communities for Christ.
The Special Offering will support North Alabama's growth in evangelism and the ways we offer Christ every day in two ways:
- The offering will fund grants that will serve as seed money for North Alabama local congregations who begin a new ministry of evangelism in the next year.
- A portion of the offering will also support the current General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) Missionaries from North Alabama serving in different parts of the world by providing needed supplies and tools to help them offer Christ every day in their contexts abroad.
Local congregations are encouraged to make a contribution to the special offering and send it with their pastor or lay member to Annual Conference on June 21-24 in Huntsville.
Here is a special message from North Alabama Conference Director of Connectional Ministries Rev. Dr. Adlene Kufarimai inviting your congregation to give to this year's special offering.
Here is a video message from GBGM missionaries Rev. Joe and Ashley Riddle sharing about their ministry in Zambia in reaching children and young adults in their communities. They also share some of the hopes and dreams they have for future ministry in Zambia.
Here is an update from GBGM missionary Rev. Rhett Thomas on how the Methodist Church in Panama is sharing the stories of Jesus and knowledge of God's love with children in inner-city Panama City.
The Blessing of Children in Offering Christ Every Day
Rev. Rhett J. Thompson, Panama
“And a little child shall lead them.” Isaiah 11:6
Resurrection Methodist Church is in an inner-city neighborhood of Panama City, Panama, surrounded by many multi-story apartment buildings. Our child development center, which is in its 30th year of operation, reflects our commitment to serve children, particularly of working-class families. The teachers apply all the knowledge gained in their university training, but they also share with the children the stories of Jesus and help them to know the love of God.
One little girl always listened intently to the stories and often shared them with her grandmother after school. Quite frequently, the grandmother would call Mary, the director of the center, to ask if this or that story was really in the Bible. Mary would assure her that it was and tell her where in the Bible she could find the story to read it herself.
One day, renovations were being done on the room where the children usually take their nap, so the children had to sleep in the sanctuary. The teacher was afraid that the children would run all over the sanctuary, climb on the pews and generally run amuck in that big space. She gave them a “little talk” before entering the sanctuary, explaining that it was God´s house and that it would not be polite to run all over and make a mess in God´s house. Much to her amazement, the children entered in total silence, walked directly to their pallets, lay down and went right to sleep. Afterwards, when the parents came to pick up their children, two of them, twin brothers, ran to their parents shouting, “Mom! Dad! We SLEPT with GOD today! We SLEPT with GOD today! And there was a big cross on the wall, but Jesus wasn´t on the cross because he´s ALIVE!”
Our center is not open on the weekends, but on Saturdays our Children’s Ministry has activities for the children of the neighborhood. The ministry team decided to canvas the neighborhood going door to door to invite children to take part. However, we quickly learned that almost all the buildings had locked entrances. Gone are the days when buildings were wide open, and neighbors kept their front doors open all day long. Fortunately in most of the buildings there was at least one child who attended our child development center, so they became our team guides, leading us to all the apartments where there were small children like themselves.
During the worst days of the pandemic, we continued our Saturday meetings online, giving the children an opportunity to see each other and enjoy at least some of their favorite activities. A few days before one Saturday that coincided with Panama´s Independence Day, one little girl asked her grandmother if the meeting would be held that day. Grandmother replied, “Probably not, because it´s a national holiday.” Her granddaughter responded, “Abuela, tell the Pastor that a national holiday is no excuse not to have Children´s Ministry!” The grandmother gave me the message, and the ministry team decided to have the meeting. It turned out to be one of the best online meetings we ever had.
Each of these anecdotes illustrates a principle that should always be a part of our ministry with children: recognizing children as protagonists, seeing them as subjects, not objects of mission and evangelization. In an adult-centered world, that is not always an easy task. We thank God for the blessing of children. May we always be willing to let them be active partners in mission and ministry.