Deemed Advent: Journey from Gratitude to Hope, the United Thank Offering board is challenging Episcopalians to support refugee welcome in the United States through its 2015 Ingathering Challenge.
“Jesus was part of a refugee family,” commented Sandra Squires, President of the United Thank Offering board. “We should be able to relate to the upheaval of today’s refugees through our love of him. For Advent and Christmas 2015, Episcopalians are asked to express gratitude with increased prayers of thanksgiving and daily giving to their Blue Boxes in remembrance of Jesus and today’s refugees.”
United Thank Offering will match the first $30,000 given by December 31, 2015 that is marked “EMM-UTO.” The challenge, which kicks off immediately, will continue throughout December 2015.
Known worldwide as UTO, the United Thank Offering grants are awarded for projects that address human needs and help alleviate poverty, both domestically and internationally in The Episcopal Church.
Each year the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, through its Episcopal Migration Ministries refugee resettlement service and a network of local organizations, faith communities and volunteers, welcomes 5,000 refugees to more than 30 communities across the United States. Refugees arrive in the United States having fled from the most violent and war-torn places on earth. With just a few months of support to get started, refugees become productive, resilient members of our society and economy.
“We encourage you to give thanks for your safety, for your home, for your family this holiday season and connect, through the Blue Box, to the refugees who do not have the luxury of such safety,” commented Caitlyn Darnell, United Thank Offering Board Member. “Every penny collected for the Ingathering, through Blue Boxes or online donations, is granted the following year.”
“This Challenge will help ensure that every refugee welcomed by The Episcopal Church has the resources they need to feel welcome and securely on their way to a new life,” explained Samuel McDonald, Deputy Chief Operating Officer and Director of Mission. He continued that refugees, especially Syrian refugees, have received increasing attention in the media. Programs funding refugees are in jeopardy of being cut or severely limited, which would result in this most vulnerable population of new Americans having limited access to food, housing, health care and the other basic needs they need to get on their feet during their first few months in the United States.
The Rev. Heather Melton, the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s Missioner for United Thank Offering, noted, “Episcopalians are encouraged to begin using their United Thank Offering Blue Box as an expression of gratitude this Thanksgiving and to continue the journey with United Thank Offering and Episcopal Migration Ministries through Advent toward the hope Episcopalians embrace through the birth of the Christ child.”
“Episcopal Migration Ministries is thankful for the generosity of the United Thank Offering,” noted Deborah Stein, Director of Episcopal Migration Ministries for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society. “This is the same hope that every refugee embraces as they undertake the treacherous journey away from war, away from violence, away from certain death. It is hope that drives every refugee to journey to new life away from everything they know in a faraway place like the United States.”
Checks or online donations should have UTO-EMM in the memo line/comments section.
Donations are also accepted online at https://episcopalchurch.thankyou4caring.org/ just select UTO from the drop down menu and then put EMM in the comments.
Episcopal Migration Ministries
Episcopal Migration Ministries is the refugee resettlement service of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society. Each year this ministry works in partnership with its affiliate network, along with dioceses, faith communities and volunteers, to welcome refugees from conflict zones across the globe.
For more than 75 years, The Episcopal Church has welcomed refugees to the United States, helping them find safety, security and new lives as American citizens. Now, with at least 60 million people displaced from their homes and lives, the global community is facing the largest refugee crisis since the end of World War II.
United Thank Offering materials are available in Spanish and are available for download here. Included are both Blue Box designs which can be printed out on cardstock, cut and folded.
“The hope is that offering the materials for download will allow our dioceses that would have had to pay a high fee for shipping or import into their country to have access to United Thank Offering materials for just the cost of printing in their diocese or parish,” Melton added.
For more information contact Melton.
Resources to support the challenge - a December 6 bulletin insert, fact sheet about refugees – will be available here