Ogden Memorial Presbyterian Church in Chatham, New Jersey, typically supports a Mission of the Month – ranging from food pantries to animal shelters to housing for domestic violence survivors – that receives a great response from its members. So when Pastor Kathi Heath suggested spending their summer focused on beekeeping in the Presbyterian Giving Catalog, the small yet supportive congregation was off and running with ideas, “running toward the bees rather than away from them,” joked Penny Moncrief, Office Administrator. This would be the congregation’s first engagement with the Catalog, and the goal was to make the experience tangible and fun.
Bees help crops—and income—grow. In parts of the world where harvesting a seasonal crop might not provide enough money to live on all year, beekeeping can help farmers supplement their earnings. In Guatemala, for example, farmers earn 23% more each month by selling honey.
The gift of beekeeping is $240 which they posted on a bulletin board for everyone to see. Members were encouraged to make gifts of any amount, and with each gift, they placed a paper bee on the bulletin board to help fill Winnie the Pooh’s empty honey pot. The children of the congregation got really excited about the project, motivating their parents to more fully participate.
In addition to the bulletin board, the summer sermon series was the Bee-atitudes (Matthew 5:1-12), and each week a fun fact about bees was shared with the congregation, such as how honey was part of Cleopatra’s beauty routine.
The mission collection concluded at their fall kick-off event where members took pictures with a frame decorated with “I Bee-long to Jesus,” children received stuffed bees, and everyone enjoyed foods that incorporated honey, such as baklava. This gathering also featured one of their many “Concerts on Main” with trumpeter Eganam Segbefia.
When all was said and done, Ogden Memorial reached their goal of $240. Their gifts will provide positive change for a village by contributing to the installation and management of beehives. Pastor Kathi remarked, “We use what God has graced us with to grace others” and help “bring about God’s kingdom.”