United Thank Offering

Important Update: UTO at General Convention

May 11, 2022
United Thank Offering

Dear UTO Members, Coordinators, and Community,

On Monday, the UTO Board made the difficult decision not to attend the 80th General Convention and Triennial this July in person. We fully support the discernment of the Presiding Officers and Executive Council to shorten and condense Convention to essential work and participation. The original impetus for the decision came from planning around the potential financial impacts of COVID, but further consideration of the costs and benefits of the UTO Board’s attendance made it clear that our money could be spent more effectively to promote UTO’s mission. The Board fully believes in the importance of General Convention, but it is not the best use of UTO’s budget to continue to be present at the event as we were pre-pandemic. We want to be respectful of the concerns shared by deputies, bishops, and others about COVID safety at Convention; we share those concerns and want to be a part of making Convention safe for those who need to be there. 

Doing something simply because we have always done it that way may not actually serve our mission well, and the UTO Board tries to be flexible, curious, and invested in our members and leaders. Last summer, we were able to use the funds normally spent on a Board meeting to ship materials free of any cost to those who requested it. By decreasing our meeting times and staff travel, we’ve been able to hire consultants to create new materials and resources that many of you have been requesting for years. We’ve collaborated with artists, liturgists, and formation experts. We believe that these investments will continue to increase the membership of UTO and deepen practices of gratitude throughout the church. The UTO operating budget is entirely for supporting and promoting UTO’s ministry of gratitude and granting, neither of which is best served by the Board’s costly attendance at General Convention/Triennial. 

There are still unknowns, and we await partnering with and supporting those making the hard decisions regarding Convention planning. This includes Blue Boxes in the Houses, Ingathering, and the Children’s Program. We also will be releasing some exciting new things during General Convention virtually. We are quickly pivoting to offer all of our workshops via Zoom on July 9 and 10 and another day for Spanish-language workshops on June 18. The schedule is included here. This transition also means that we will be able to ship Spanish-language materials to any diocese that wants them over the summer free of charge. So many UTO members and coordinators are unable to attend General Convention because of vacation time and money restraints, and we’re very happy to eliminate those concerns by meeting online. We’ve learned over the past two years that virtual community is still real community. Most importantly, we will pray for those who are gathering, for their discernment as they continue to lead the church with gratitude, grace, and integrity, and we will give thanks for the hard work of the staff and leadership who have brought about Convention planning as safely as possible. We also give thanks for your support as we continue to grow and try new things. 

With a grateful heart,

Sherri Dietrich
UTO Board President

Contact:
The Rev. Cn.
Heather Melton

Staff Officer for the United Thank Offering