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Today in the Mission Yearbook

Soup suppers, flowering crosses and feeding fish


Congregations get creative raising funds for One Great Hour of Sharing

June 16, 2020

On Easter Sunday 1949, four years after the end of World War II, the One Great Hour of Sharing offering brought relief to neighbors in need within the United States for the first time. In the 1960s, it expanded to include international needs.

Dan Cagle Jr., a member of First Presbyterian Church of Salisbury, North Carolina, is a great supporter and promoter of the Feed the Fish competition each year, a fundraising competition among the Sunday school classes that benefits One Great Hour of Sharing. (Photo by Dan DeGraff)

Now, more than 70 years later, OGHS continues to address pressing human needs in the U.S. and around the world through the ministries of Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, the Presbyterian Hunger Program and Self-Development of People. Gifts made through OGHS provide relief for communities after natural or human-caused disasters, sustainable food sources for people experiencing hunger, and empowerment for people who are economically poor, oppressed or disadvantaged.

The 2020 OGHS theme, “You shall be called repairers of the breach,” is taken from Isaiah 58:12. Whether it’s a pot of savory soup to feed hungry souls, a flower placed on a cross for a $5 donation or fishbowls stuffed with coins donated by Sunday school classes, all these creative efforts contribute to God’s work through Presbyterian Mission.

In the Presbytery of Nevada, Shirley Garrett, 85, has been baking homemade bread for the Soup Supper at Wells Presbyterian Church for 15 years. The Wednesday evening meal is held during Lent as a fundraiser for OGHS.

Mike Seech, Jackie Stanhope and Elaine Swanson, who’s the church’s secretary, have cooked up many, many gallons of soup over the years, with Seech and Swanson making meat-based soups and Stanhope preparing the vegetarian soups. Others make salads and desserts. The meal is open to anyone in the community and attended by an average of 18 people each week. People pay or donate any amount they determine, and the church matches the total raised for the OGHS offering.

With matching funds from the church, Wells Presbyterian Church is able to donate an average of $2,000 to the OGHS offering, which represents about 10% of the church’s annual budget, Swanson said.

The Soup Supper began as an outreach to help people experiencing homelessness in the community. It continues today to serve individuals and communities in need all around the world.

The Rev. Jim McCrea accepted the call to First Presbyterian Church of Galena, Illinois, in Blackhawk Presbytery, in April 1992. He brought with him a creative idea from his father’s church in Waterloo, Iowa.

The late Fred Huston, a member of FPC Galena at the time, crafted a large wooden cross and pierced it with 80 holes. The cross stands at the front of the sanctuary and is a source of conversation for visitors. Between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday, the cross is visibly transformed as congregants and visitors donate to One Great Hour of Sharing. Every $5 given adds another colorful, nonperishable flower in one of the holes.

In 2018, the congregation of about 60 people raised $824 for OGHS, according to McCrea. OGHS is just one of the special offerings supported by FPC Galena. In the summer, the congregation has a four-week collection for Presbyterian Giving Catalog projects.

For example, McCrea said, “People campaign for ‘cows’ or ‘pigs’ or ‘bees’ during the four weeks. Then we vote to select the top two or three projects (from the Presbyterian Giving Catalog) to fund.”

The mission statement of First Presbyterian Church of Salisbury, North Carolina, founded in 1821 in Salem Presbytery, is “God’s Love Alive for Mission.” FPC Salisbury has a vision to be a community of faith that thinks with the mind of Christ, loves with the heart of Christ, and serves with the hand of Christ.

Each year during Lent, all Sunday school classes at FPC Salisbury fill plastic fishbowls with donations for One Great Hour of Sharing. The annual Feed the Fish fundraiser has become a successful and enjoyable project, said Elizabeth Snelbaker, director of Christian education. Over the years, the lighthearted competition has helped the church’s OGHS offering to grow from hundreds of dollars to thousands.

“While we play up the competition between Sunday school classes,” Snelbaker said, “the true winners are those who benefit from this very special offering.”

Tammy Warren, Communications Associate, Presbyterian Mission Agency

Today’s Focus:  One Great Hour of Sharing

Let us join in prayer for: 

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Stephanie Fritz, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Rosemary Gallagher, Board of Pensions

Let us pray:

Heavenly Father, grant us grace to live lives of devotion and discipline that reflect your grace and truth. Amen.