Westminster Presbyterian Church’s pitch: ‘Give a gift, kiss a cow’
December 21, 2022
While most organizations work tirelessly to break down silos, Westminster Presbyterian Church in Bay City, Michigan, decided instead to build a few of their own.
All to the glory of God for the benefit of Presbyterian Mission, of course.
Because Bay County is a top agricultural producer for the state, the church naturally gravitated toward the Presbyterian Giving Catalog when it came time to designate a mission project during their Children’s Sabbath last year.
Now in its ninth year, the increasingly popular Presbyterian Giving Catalog — which is available both in print and online, in English, Spanish and Korean — is filled with a wide variety of gifts that provide real and positive impact around the world, including agricultural tools and training, livestock, aid kits, access to clean water and helping to end hunger.
After selecting the farm bundle as their Giving Catalog project, the congregation then devised a clever way to raise the necessary funds.
“We had three different silos set at the front of our sanctuary,” explained Brandi Higgins, Westminster’s director of Children and Youth Ministries and director of Bell Choirs. “Each silo had a different name on it — one for our pastor, Jamie Milton, one for our parish associate, Linda Williams, and one for me as the children and youth director. We allowed people to place their donations into whosever silo they wanted to see kiss a cow; and whoever had the most donations at the very end had to kiss a cow. We ran the donation time for about a month, and at the end we had an anonymous donor sneak in and equal out all the amounts. This made it so that all three of us had to kiss the cow.”
But since no one wanted to kiss a cow in the middle of winter, Higgins planned the church’s excursion for the day after Easter.
“We reached out to a local farm that had a petting zoo to see if they had a calf that they wouldn’t mind if we kissed,” Higgins recalled. “They did, and the rest is really history. It was really a fun opportunity that many members of our congregation got behind to support.”
But for those PC(USA) congregations for whom visiting a farm, taking a mission trip or kissing a cow would be an impossibility, they need only let their fingers and their collective imagination do the walking, straight through the pages of the new Presbyterian Giving Catalog in order to reach out and touch people’s lives.
“No matter the language a Presbyterian speaks, we know that we share common commitments to Matthew 25 ministry, like those supported through the Presbyterian Giving Catalog,” said William McConnell, interim director of the Presbyterian Giving Catalog for the Presbyterian Mission Agency. “Opportunities abound on every page for congregations and individuals to choose a cause that’s close to their heart and that will make a significant, lasting impact in the lives of people and communities around the world.”
The new Giving Catalog builds on the momentum created by the previous editions. Since it debuted in 2013, nearly 68,000 gifts have been given by congregations and individuals. The gifts are organized in broad categories — aid kits, livestock, agriculture, water and people — for ease of use when selecting a project or cause. Its pages contain everything from farming tools for a family in the developing world to a deep rock well, suitable for those parts of the world where clean water is found only by digging hundreds of feet below the Earth’s surface.
Each section also features a heartfelt prayer written by thankful supporters of the Giving Catalog.
In 2021, the most popular items by far were the family of chickens and the sewing machine, giving the kissable cow some friendly competition.
“It’s hard to believe that many, many more congregations do not engage with the Giving Catalog,” said Jane MacDonald, a ruling elder, former trustee and the current treasurer at First Presbyterian Church of Newton, New Jersey, which has supported the Giving Catalog annually since it debuted. “Giving a gift through the Catalog is a meaningful way that people can make a difference in the lives of others.”
Emily Enders Odom, Associate Director of Mission Communications, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Today’s Focus: Presbyterian Giving Catalog
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Tim McCallister, Coordinator, Mission Program Grants & Schools & Colleges Equipping Communities of Color, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Doris McCray, Director, Employer Services, Board of Pensions
Let us pray
God, may Christ’s body and blood be the seed that bears fruitful growth. Amen.