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Gracie the fish makes a big splash at APCE Annual Event

Superstar of One Great Hour of Sharing Offering’s children’s curriculum draws schools of visitors to pose with the exotic ectotherm

by Emily Enders Odom, Mission Communications | Special to Presbyterian News Service

The Rev. Kira Anderson joined her daughter, Kaylee, and Gracie the fish at the Special Offerings exhibit at the APCE Marketplace & Bookstore in St. Louis. (Photo by Lauren Rogers)

ST. LOUIS — In the vast sea of vendors that populate the Marketplace & Bookstore at the Association of Partners in Christian Education 2024 Annual Event, there’s only one who literally makes a splash.

And that would be Gracie.

Gracie is the colorful fish whose adventures are recounted in the children’s curriculum written annually to interpret the One Great Hour of Sharing Offering.

For 75 years, the ecumenical One Great Hour of Sharing Offering has provided Presbyterians and other Christian denominations a tangible way to share God’s love with neighbors in need around the world. Although the Offering may be taken anytime, most congregations receive it on Palm Sunday or Easter Sunday, which this year fall on March 24 and 31 respectively.

And for nearly 20 of those 75 years, the Rev. Dr. Kathy Dawson, a certified Christian educator and PC(USA) pastor, has breathed life into the gills of Gracie the OGHS fish, who teaches children important life and biblical lessons.

Children like five-year-old Kaylee Anderson.

Kaylee was among the first in line to have her photo snapped with Gracie when the Marketplace opened on Wednesday.

After choosing her favorite undersea props from the well-stocked table, she invited her mom, the Rev. Kira Anderson, to share the limelight.

Although the precocious preschooler couldn’t necessarily recite any of Gracie’s escapades under the sea, she lit right up when her mother described a new family tradition surrounding the iconic OGHS fish banks, which were introduced sometime in the early 1980s.

“We hid quarters in the house every day during Lent for Kaylee to find and deposit in her fish bank,” said Kira Anderson, who serves with her husband, the Rev. John Anderson, as co-pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Joplin, Missouri.

And because mission activities play such a vital part in the life of the First Presbyterian Church community, John Anderson said that Kaylee understands what her fish bank is all about.

“She knows that her quarters help buy things like nets for people around the world who fish for a living,” he said. “So go, Gracie, go!”

To have your photo taken with Gracie, stop by the Special Offerings exhibit at the APCE Marketplace & Bookstore in St. Louis. To make a gift to One Great Hour of Sharing in support of the Presbyterian Hunger Program, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and Self-Development of People, click here.

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