When Hurricane Matthew hit South Carolina in October, the Rev. Reginald Lee was just settling into his new assignment as congregational specialist for the Marion and Florence districts.
Once the storm made its way back to sea, it became clear to Lee that it wasn’t going to be business as usual.
“Immediately,” he said, “the genius of our connectional system kicked into high gear. Those resources were going to be needed in Nichols and Sellers in a major way.
“Not only did churches from the Marion and Florence districts dig deeply to provide precious resources for the rebuilding effort, but United Methodist from all across the state and nation began to give of their time, talents and resources.”
Lee recalls being with the Rev. Eddie Collier, pastor of Nichols United Methodist Church, when Bishop L. Jonathan Holston and the Rev. Kathy James, the director of connectional ministries for the S.C. Conference of the UMC, visited the flood-ravaged town to assess the damage.
“A profound sense of gratitude came over me because of the generosity of the people of the United Methodist Church,” Lee said. “Through our apportioned and extra-mile giving, we prove that we are better and stronger together.
“I believe in connectional giving, and I hope you do to. If you need further proof, ask Pastor Eddie.”
Rev. Collier spoke recently about what the conference’s disaster relief efforts have meant to him, his congregation and to the Nichols community.
“In times like this, you need people,” he said. “When I see all of these people, it uplifts my spirit and helps me to be reassured that what I’m preaching is real.”
Relief work performed by volunteers – most recently during the “Nichols Blitz” in December and this coming weekend during the “Sellers Blitz” – is one of the most impactful ways United Methodists reach out into the world.
“By assisting the most vulnerable persons affected by crisis, we become Christ’s hands and feet in the world,” he said. “We not only help rebuild homes, feed the hungry and give medicine to the sick, we bring hope and restore people’s God-given worth and dignity.
“When you give through the apportionment system, you’re able to put the full connection of the United Methodist Church – through the General Church, the United Methodist Committee on Relief, annual conferences and even local churches – behind each dollar, ensuring that the money, supplies and resources go directly to those in need.”
Over “10 Days of Connectional Giving” – leading up to the Jan. 10 deadline for churches to pay their 2016 apportionments to the conference treasurer – we are sharing short stories to remind you what your church’s annual contributions mean to your fellow United Methodists and to those whose lives are touched by their efforts.
We hope this will encourage your congregation’s leaders to make sure they have submitted your church’s 2016 apportionments so the good work of all of the conference’s ministries can continue.
And to those churches that already have given 100 percent of their apportionments: