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One Great Hour of Sharing ministries provide support during the pandemic


Three PC(USA) ministries receive OGHS financing, made even more crucial by COVID-19

July 16, 2020

Churches generally receive the One Great Hour of Sharing Offering on Palm Sunday or Easter Sunday.

In a world beset by disaster, hunger and oppression, One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS) is dedicated to aiding the millions of people who lack access to sustainable food sources, clean water, sanitation, education and opportunity. Never has this been more prescient than in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Accordingly, in an webinar titled “Engaging in OGHS During COVID-19,” leaders from One Great Hour of Sharing ministries (Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, the Presbyterian Hunger Program, and the Presbyterian Committee on the Self- Development of People) discussed just how crucial these programs are at a time when the populations these programs serve are being hit the hardest. The staff of Special Offerings underscored the many resources available to congregations for use even while not physically meeting together.

Click here to view the webinar.

Self-Development of People (SDOP) partners with community groups of low-income people by providing grants for many projects in the United States and globally. The Rev. Dr. Alonzo Johnson, SDOP coordinator, highlighted ministry partners like We the People Detroit, which has prevented water shutoffs in a time when hygiene and sanitization are vital.

The Presbyterian Hunger Program (PHP), whose mission is to “alleviate hunger and eliminate its causes,” similarly partners with organizations and churches that serve those who will be hardest hit by this crisis.

In the webinar, the Rev. Rebecca Barnes, PHP coordinator, talked about how One Great Hour of Sharing makes its dispersal of national and international grants possible. It also enables the Hunger Program to give out what Barnes referred to as “congregation-based community organizing grants,” or CBCOs.

“CBCOs are really important in communities working to identify the needs in that community,” said Barnes, “and a lot of them focus on affordable housing, which we expect will be a huge need in this time. So, the way that we can support CBCOs through One Great Hour of Sharing is really key to keeping people afloat during the current crisis.”

The final program featured in the webinar was Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA). PDA, a ministry that provides immediate and long-term assistance to disaster-affected areas, announced the drawing of over $2 million from its reserves. The grants, which are made possible by OGHS, will, according to a Presbyterian News Service article published last week, be “divided between international response and grants to mid councils (synods and presbyteries) and their congregations to support work in response to and impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.”

“It’s been amazing to watch how congregations that were already doing disaster work have been pivoting in the face of this,” said the Rev. Dr. Laurie Kraus, PDA coordinator, “and figuring out how to reframe long-term disaster understandings and projects.”

To assist congregations with online giving, Ellie Johns-Kelley of the Presbyterian Foundation walked through how churches with pre-existing accounts can easily add OGHS (or any of the special offerings) to their especially as the Foundation has seen a spike in new online giving accounts.

As OGHS ministries continue to walk alongside the most vulnerable populations, Special Offerings Director Bryce Wiebe underscores that the ministry exists “because of who God is and who we are. In light of this pandemic, those reasons keep returning to me: We give to OGHS because we know our God to be one who comes to ‘a broken and fearful world,’ offering healing, help and hope, and witnessing to the final triumph of love over death,” Wiebe said. “As the Church, we are called to join together and offer those same things. ‘Though the Earth should change, God is still God, we are still us.’”

 One Great Hour of Sharing is the largest single way that Presbyterians come together every year to work for a better world. The three programs supported by One Great Hour of Sharing — Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, the Presbyterian Hunger Program and Self-Development of People — all work in different ways to serve individuals and communities in need. COVID-19-specific information related to OGHS can be found here.

 Mari Graham Evans, Former Social Media Specialist, Mission Communications, Presbyterian Mission Agency

Today’s Focus:  One Great Hour of Sharing

Let us join in prayer for: 

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Lee Hinson-Hasty, Presbyterian Foundation
Stephen Hirsh, Presbyterian Mission Agency

Let us pray:

Gracious God, may we be open to your freshness and your recreative work in our midst. Repurpose us to do your work as we live into your kingdom. Amen.

Creative_Commons-BYNCNDYou may freely reuse and distribute this article in its entirety for non-commercial purposes in any medium. Please include author attribution, photography credits, and a link to the original article. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDeratives 4.0 International License.

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