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Robust year-end giving heralds hopeful 2021

Presbyterians united to raise more than $156,000 on #GivingTuesday 2020

by Emily Enders Odom | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE — As yet another Christmas has come and gone — and, along with it, the Magi from the East bearing their unique gifts — the spirit of giving that so characterizes this holy season lives on in these ever-lengthening days through the continued generosity of faithful Presbyterians.

Looking back on a year in which charitable giving was expected to drop precipitously, the improbable increase experienced by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) on #GivingTuesday 2020 was nothing short of a Christmas miracle, surpassing all expectations and previous records.

As reported by the Presbyterian News Service on Dec. 10, 2020, the PC(USA)’s #GivingTuesday campaign yielded gifts totaling just over $150,000 as of that date, with a final number promised in the New Year as gifts were continuing to come in.

Now that the 2020 books have closed, the Rev. Rosemary C. Mitchell, senior director for the Presbyterian Mission Agency’s office of Mission Engagement and Support (MES) — which organized and sponsored the PC(USA)’s ambitious, multi-agency, cross-departmental #GivingTuesday digital telethon on Dec. 1 — announced a final total of $156,531.

The amount raised in 2020 exceeds the prior year’s giving total by over $32,000.

Of even more significance for the PC(USA), however, was the overall increase in the total number of #GivingTuesday donors, reflecting a national trend of larger donor numbers giving smaller gifts.

The Rev. Rosemary Mitchell is senior director of Mission Engagement and Support.

“On Giving Tuesday, the most important thing is that we all join together in a national day of generosity, regardless of the amount of each individual gift,” said Mitchell. “It is a day when every gift at every level matters.”

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.

The Rev. Dr. Diane Moffett is president and executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency.

 

“Giving Tuesday 2020 gave us another important opportunity to share with those who participated more about how we are living into our Matthew 25 call and being a church of action,” said the Rev. Dr. Diane Moffett, president and executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency (PMA). “Now is the time for people of faith to bear down on our call to be a Matthew 25 church — dismantling structural racism, eradicating systemic poverty and building congregational vitality. And that is what we are seeking to do in 2021.”

The funds raised in 2020 were distributed equally among Shared MissionSpecial Offerings and Per Capita, as the Church continues to embody Matthew 25.

The Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II is Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

“We are in a new age and the church of the 21st century requires innovative thinking and action,” said the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). “That innovation comes only through the gifts and contributions from across the denomination. What greater message can we send than to meet and exceed our Giving Tuesday goals? That means a stronger commitment from our current donors and the involvement of new ones.”

In fact, the PC(USA) observed — with gratitude — just such a trend among its current donors.

One notable example is the Presbytery of Donegal, based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS) is the most heavily supported and widely-known of the four Special Offerings of the PC(USA).

The Rev. Dr. Erin Cox-Holmes is Presbytery of Donegal’s executive presbyter.

“In order to encourage stewardship, our presbytery each year sends a contribution to the Presbyterian Mission Agency,” said the Rev. Dr. Erin Cox-Holmes, executive presbyter. “We have a long and proud history of general mission support. And our Engaging Our Mission Committee also designates some of our gift to specific causes under the PMA umbrella.

“Since the traditional time for receiving OGHS was right as the pandemic began, we knew there was a major financial need there,” Cox-Holmes said. “Our mission committee decided to designate all of our gift to OGHS, and to encourage extra giving by our congregations.”

Donegal’s stated clerk, the Rev. Dr. Michael Wilson, concurred.

“In our context, which spans rural, urban and suburban communities, our congregations have experienced disasters like flooding and tornadoes,” said Wilson. “They are hands-on people and have participated in the work of Presbyterian Disaster Assistance. They know about disasters, and they care. Our congregations also care about issues of hunger. Hunger is an ongoing issue for many families in our context. Our people see it, experience it, and they care. And Donegal congregations simply care about people. All told the values of OGHS are a great fit with the passions of Donegal Presbytery. We’re proud to be a part of the OGHS and we are glad to support it.”

Because most PC(USA) congregations were not able to meet in person on Palm Sunday or Easter in 2020, the traditional times when OGHS is received, many had to reschedule their efforts, or missed the opportunity to support OGHS altogether, which is why Mitchell said she is especially grateful for Donegal’s designation.

“We give thanks to God for Donegal’s witness, as the presbytery brings the selfless love of Christ to people and communities they might never meet,” said Mitchell. “We also hope that other presbyteries might follow their example and prayerfully consider designating a future presbytery offering to OGHS.”

As the pandemic continues to make virtual worship and meetings for most congregations and mid councils a necessity nearly a year after it began, finding alternative days, ways and seasons when the Special Offerings may be received has become more important than ever.

“It’s encouraging to see how Presbyterians came together in 2020, in the midst of dual pandemics — COVID-19 and racial unrest — to continue building the kingdom of God through their generosity,” said Lauren W. Rogers, Project Manager for Digital Fundraising, Special Offerings and the Presbyterian Giving Catalog in MES. “I am prouder than ever to be a member of this denomination, and I look forward to seeing what we can accomplish in 2021.”


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