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#GivingTuesday gifts surpass $150,000

Twelve-hour telethon on Dec. 1 brought Presbyterians together in the power of prayer and the joy of giving

by Emily Enders Odom | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE — The PC(USA)’s clarion call to be a Matthew 25 church united Presbyterians during this unrelenting season of COVID-19 and racial unrest in raising an unprecedented $150,031 toward the PC(USA)’s mission and ministry on #GivingTuesday, Dec. 1.

The Rev. Rosemary C. Mitchell, senior director for the Presbyterian Mission Agency’s Mission Engagement and Support, which organized and sponsored #GivingTuesday, said that because she expects that gifts will continue to come in, she plans to release final numbers by the end of the month.

The amount raised this year exceeds last year’s giving total by nearly $30,000, attributable, in large part, to the efforts of a multi-agency, cross-departmental planning team under the leadership of Lauren Rogers, project manager for Digital Fundraising in the PMA’s office of Special Offerings.

“Putting together a 12-hour telethon was a huge undertaking, which was only possible because of the contributions, support and work of members of every ministry office and the Office of the General Assembly,” said Mitchell. “Although it truly took a village, I am especially grateful to Lauren Rogers, who led our effort.”

Inspired by telethons of the past, the PC(USA) was successful in hosting an ambitious livestreamed #GivingTuesday event titled, “We are the Church…Together,” which provided a platform for Presbyterians to gather virtually in support of building congregational vitality, dismantling structural racism, and eradicating systemic poverty, the three foci of the churchwide Matthew 25 invitation.

Highlights of the telethon included worship and reflection, prayer, mental health breaks, ministry area presentations, the debut of a video on General Assembly Per Capita giving titled “Blessed be the tie that binds,” and a reunion of current and former General Assembly moderators in a spirited and good-natured Presbyterian trivia competition.

“It was a full of day of learning, fun, sharing and prayer,” said the Rev. Dr. Diane Moffett, president and executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency. “I especially appreciated the opportunity for prayer. It was a new component of Giving Tuesday and given all the concerns in the world right now, the power of joining with someone in prayer is a gift in and of itself.”

The team was co-chaired by Kathy Maurer, a ruling elder at First Presbyterian Church of Taymouth in Birch Run, Michigan, and a member of the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board, and the Rev. Dr. Blythe Denham Kieffer, pastor and head of staff at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Springfield, Illinois, and a member of the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly.

“We want to thank everyone who participated and donated on Giving Tuesday, keeping in mind that it’s not too late to make a gift,” Maurer said. “I personally am in awe and grateful for the Giving Tuesday team for their leadership, creativity and dedication to the work of PMA.”

The funds raised this year will be distributed equally among Shared MissionSpecial Offerings and Per Capita as the Church continues to embody Matthew 25.

“In these times of pandemic, unemployment and unrest, my heart is moved by the faith and commitment of so many Presbyterians across our country and the world,” said the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).  “Churches stepped up on Giving Tuesday to meet the needs of a society in transition. As I have said many times over the past nine months, I am excited by what God has in store for the church of the 21st century, and the commitment shown during this special day is a sign of better days ahead.”

The PC(USA)’s success on #GivingTuesday was the effort of well over 100 members of the PMA and OGA staff, including those who volunteered as Prayer Partners, members of the national staff who made themselves available to listen to the concerns of those who called in to the designated number, and offered a brief personal pastoral prayer.

“Praying aloud with others is probably one of the most centering practices for me,” said Bryce Wiebe, director of Special Offerings, who along with Rogers, Destini Hodges, interim coordinator of Young Adult Volunteers; and Lee Catoe, managing editor of the journal “Unbound,” alternated as the telethon’s emcees. “Praying with and for [our mission co-worker] Michael Ludwig was a gift to me on a day full of gifts from the whole Church.”

Ever since the launch of #GivingTuesday in 2012, nonprofits, small businesses, corporations, schools and faith-based organizations all over the world have mobilized to celebrate this global day of giving, held annually on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. The PC(USA), which has run a campaign for #GivingTuesday since 2014, is already looking forward to next year’s event.

“Giving Tuesday was one of those silver linings in the COVID-19 cloud,” said Kieffer. “I was honored to be a part of a well-coordinated team with so many creative and faithful people. Our day was filled with stories of hope as the church together and, once again, the generosity of Presbyterians did not disappoint. Thank you, thank you, thank you!”

For those who were not able to tune in on Dec. 1, a video recording of the telethon is available by clicking here. Pre-recorded segments, including mental health breaks, are also available to view and download individually on Vimeo.

It’s not too late to join the PC(USA) in responding to a world in need! Give now.

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