“‘Love came down at Christmas’ as the song goes, and as we enter this season of Advent and Christmas the best way to show love is by giving,” says Bishop Peggy Johnson. “Giving Tuesday can encourage, strengthen and enliven our many outstanding ministries. Don’t let this day or season pass without donating a gift out of love for Christ.”

The bishop sees many worthy but needful churches and causes that can benefit from this special day of widespread public giving that follows Thanksgiving, “Black Friday” and Cyber Monday. And just like the latter two heavy shopping days, Giving Tuesday’s generosity should also stretch beyond a day and become a whole Season of Sharing, lasting through the end of the year. That is how great the need for public benevolence is, especially during this economically challenging year.

While many Eastern PA Conference churches have increased their food giveaway ministries and other outreach efforts, no doubt some are also making Giving Tuesday appeals. And many are receiving, and perhaps responding to, appeals from service agencies and organizations like Family Promise, Partners for Sacred Places, the Salvation Army and so on. Meanwhile, Facebook is renewing its Giving Tuesday Challenge, offering a 100% match for the first $7 million in donations made via Facebook today.

Conference camps seek year-end donations

Moreover, our four Camp and Retreat Centers also hope to benefit in their time of dire need. They all have suffered severe financial losses caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, leading to drastic staff reductions and furloughs. Nearly $14,000 was donated by early November in response to the Bishop’s Fundraising Appeal for Camps, launched in August. But much more is needed.

“God is good, all the time, even during a pandemic,” begins the Rev. Ron Schane, Director of Pocono Plateau, in his new fundraising appeal letter. The forced cancelations of summer camps and retreats will now extend into winter 2021. Yet, he expresses thanks for the many blessings, including donations, volunteer work teams and families who paid to enjoy the camp for weekend getaways.

Like his fellow camp directors, who are also navigating this rugged “unchartered territory,” Schane is appealing to supporters for year-end contributions, large or small, to help sustain the camp into the New Year. All of the directors are eager for spring retreats and summer camps to return in 2021 to produce much-needed revenue and ensure their survival. Visit Pocono Plateau’s website to find out how to support them.

Carson Simpson Farm Christian Camp is hoping to reap generous donations on Giving Tuesday and beyond to help fund scholarships for campers in the summer 2021 season. “We offer general scholarships, and other aid for our PEACE Ministries campers and military families,” said Jonathan Curtis, Camp Director. “As we enter into the season of giving, please let others know about CSF for Giving Tuesday, and give as you are able through our new website.” Curtis has posted videos to bolster the effort on the camp’s active, colorful Facebook page.

Innabah Camp & Retreat Center received over $26,000 in donations through the Amazing Raise one-day matching-funds effort in October, similar to Lancaster’s recent Extraordinary Give matching funds public fundraiser that benefited Gretna Glen Camp & Retreat Center. All the camps are striving to raise funds through special events, like Gretna Glen’s Run the Glen races in November, plus online sales of specialty foods and souvenir merchandise, and other fundraising efforts.

Meanwhile, the denomination’s general agencies that support ministries in our Conference are also soliciting funds through Giving Tuesday—including UMC Church and Society, the General Commission on Religion & Race, UM Women and UM Global Ministries. But Global Ministries is engaged in a longer, $1 million fundraising campaign, lasting through December, with the Advent-influenced theme “Give Love, Joy, Hope, and Peace.” Read “Ways United Methodists can make giving count the most.”

Giving is most needed to support UMCOR (UM Committee on Relief) for its disaster recovery work, as well as Global Ministries’ Abundant Health programs and its missionaries serving in the U.S. around the world. In 2019 Eastern PA Conference churches and individuals gave $285,791 to UMCOR, reports Barbara Drake, a Deaconess and Conference Mission Secretary.

Our Conference supports a number of missionaries, including the Rev. Luky Cotto, a UMC National Hispanic/Latino Plan missionary and pastor of Casa del Pueblo, a ministry of Lehman Memorial UMC in Hatboro. She is hoping to raise at least $3,000 today, on Giving Tuesday, to support her ministry. (Give online to support her, or send checks to Advance GCFA, P.O. Box 9068, New York, NY 10087. Put Advance Project #3021466 in the memo line.)

Also: Don’t miss these special upcoming events:

1.   World AIDS Day worship service today, Dec. 1, 2 PM
The United Methodist Global AIDS Committee has planned a worship service to observe World AIDS Day Dec. 1, at 2 PM, on Facebook. Indiana Conference Bishop Julius Trimble, the chair of the committee, writes about how United Methodists can take action on behalf of people infected with HIV or AIDS. Read commentaryRead press releaseWatch worship service.
2.   Digital Ministry for the Rest of Us, Saturday Dec. 5
Need help getting your church online? Attend this interactive presentation on Zoom, provided by the Eastern PA Conference Congregational Development Team. Saturday, Dec. 5, 10-11:30 AM.
  • Foundations of Church Technology: Rev. Kevin Rutledge, Covenant UMC
  • Livestream or Recorded? Pros and Cons: Rev. Amy Banka, Senior Pastor, Hopewell UMC
  • DYI Livestreaming & Recording: John Mattox, Technology Volunteer, Linwood UMC

3.   Leading in a Liminal Season book discussion, Dec. 8
A discussion on Zoom with Susan Beaumont, author of Leading In A Liminal Season. Sponsored by and for Women in Professional Ministry and Commission on the Status & Role of Women (COSROW) on Tuesday, Dec. 8. 10 AM–12 PM. Register.

4.   Celebrating our Cultures at Christmas, Dec. 13
A Conference-Wide Christmas Celebration on Zoom, Sunday, Dec. 13, from 3 to 5 PM.
Featuring Celebrations from Around the World to be shared:
§ Three King’s Day
§ Korean Celebrations
§ Kwanzaa and New Year’s Celebrations
§ Democratic Republic of Congo @ Christmas
§ Native American Traditions @ Christmas
§ Indian Celebrations
§ Evangelical Bretheran/German Traditions
§ British Traditions
§ Sierra Leone @ Christmas
We will also hear church traditions, family traditions and close by lifting the light of Christ together.