Christmas Joy – Helping and Empowering Others

Minute for Mission: Board of Pensions

No one should have to choose between food and medicine, but Sharon was approaching that. 

Battling advanced thyroid cancer since 2001, Sharon was facing the growing number of additional prescriptions and the copays that come with them. “I didn’t know what I would do,” she shared. “You hear about others in this situation, but I never thought it would be me.” 

Sharon retired after serving as a lay worker at the First Presbyterian Church in Liberty, Missouri.  “Even though I am not clergy, my 24 years was a ministry of service,” she says. “Who knew that another ministry, that of the Board of Pensions, would come to my rescue?” 

Sharon’s pastor, Rev. Nikki Cooley, felt sure there was something that could be done after she learned of Sharon’s situation, but she didn’t know what. “Sharon gives me too much credit. I merely made a phone call,” says Cooley. “It was the regional representative—Rev. Dr. Edward Thompson—who exceeded everyone’s expectations.” 

They had hoped there would be a one-time matching grant in partnership with her church to help with a housing situation. However, with Thompson’s guidance, she learned of and applied for the Income Supplement and Housing Supplement programs. 

“It is hard to ask for help,” says Sharon. “But I cannot explain the depth of gratitude I felt towards not only Rev. Cooley, but also Rev. Edward Thompson and Dick Liberty from the Board of Pensions. I was rendered speechless.” 

But not for long. 

“It is a gift from God and that has left me with an attitude of gratitude,” Sharon says. “I believe in paying forward by giving and tithing to the Christmas Joy Offering to help someone else.” 

Sharon says the first time she went to the grocery store after receiving the assistance, “I felt wealthy.” Not because she could buy anything, but that she could buy without sacrificing something else of equal importance. “This is more than a physical blessing, but a deeply spiritual one for me.” 

Eating healthy isn’t always the most economical way to eat, and her disease restricted her diet. “With this assistance, she can now have good food,” says Cooley. “I am delighted. As a newly ordained pastor, I have learned as much in this process as she did. I am happy to be proud of an organization that offers programs such as this.” 

“This experience of generosity has empowered me to do for others,” Sharon says. “We are a connectional church, and sometimes those connections save lives. We need to share and make people more aware what the Christmas Joy Offering does for people, people like me.” 

The Christmas Joy Offering assists active and retired church workers in their time of need through the Assistance Program of the Board of Pensions as well as education and leadership development at Presbyterian-related schools and colleges. 

Please give generously.

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