Outpourings and Ingatherings
By: Sherri Dietrich, President, United Thank Offering Board
For I have learned, whatever state I am in, therein to be content.
Difficult times bring out both the best and worst in us, and the COVID-19 pandemic and self-isolation are doing just that. Some people have hoarded hand sanitizer and toilet paper that they then try to sell to desperate people at a huge profit. A few truly troubled souls have walked around grocery stores licking packages to try to spread the virus as widely as possible. But for every person behaving selfishly, there are thousands doing their best to help others, by staying home alone, sewing and giving away face masks, delivering food to people who need it, and connecting with others through online media in innovative ways. The worst will eventually pass and we will return to life as usual, but some things may be changed forever – some for the better and some for the worse.
UTO also is being affected by this pandemic, and the UTO Board and staff are planning for the long recovery period to come. First, many of you have expressed concern about collecting the Spring Ingathering when churches are not meeting in person, and there are many ways to give to UTO that do not involve gathering at church. Everyone is encouraged to send their Spring Ingathering using one of the following methods:
- To give via your phone, simply text INGATHER to 41444
- Give online at https://unitedthankoffering.com/give/
- Mail a check, made payable to UTO with Ingathering Diocese of (name) in the memo line, to:
The United Thank Offering
DFMS – Protestant Episcopal Church
PO Box 958983
St. Louis MO 63195-8983
Every donation will be acknowledged with a card and recorded. Dioceses can request their donation lists quarterly from the UTO staff. If you usually hold your Spring Ingathering at a retreat or luncheon, we encourage you to hold that event online. If you need help with Zoom or would like Heather to speak at your Zoom event, please email her. She is happy to help.
And please remember that UTO is about gratitude first, money second. Encourage people to practice gratitude and place monetary offerings into their Blue Boxes if they can, but if they can’t give money, encourage them to write notes of thanks for their blessings and put those into their Blue Boxes. They can later read all of those notes, remember their blessings, and give thanks again, either with simply a prayer or with a monetary offering. First and foremost, practice gratitude, which will help us and our loved ones get through this difficult time.
Second, the UTO Board plans to change the focus for the next round of grants to center around recovery efforts from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. We will give you all of the details on this new focus after it is approved by the Executive Council in June. We wanted you to know about this change as soon as possible so you wouldn’t put effort into grants based on the previously announced focus for 2021. We also thought you would want to know that UTO will be there to help with the spiritual and economic recovery process. We plan to return to the important creation care focus in 2022, so just put those grant ideas on hold for now.
As always, the UTO Board gives thanks every day for all those who participate in the United Thank Offering by practicing gratitude – noticing the blessings in their lives, giving thanks for those blessings, and making an offering to share their blessings. And gratitude is even more important than usual during these difficult times because it helps with emotional health and resilience. Practicing gratitude is like staying home to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 – it’s good for you and good for everyone around you. Stay safe, stay well, and stay grateful.