Making a Real Difference

As we formulate our 2018 budget to support the ministries of the church, someone almost always asks about apportionments. Apportionments are the amounts apportioned to each congregation to support ministries beyond the local church. Because United Methodists all over the world are connected in ministry, we can respond to situations such as Hurricane Harvey immediately. Part of that apportioned amount goes directly to ensure that we have the resources and the infrastructure required to respond anytime in almost any place disaster strikes. You might also be interested to know that because of good management on the world, national, annual conference and local church levels, Laurel Heights’ portion required to maintain these ministries for 2018 has decreased by 15% or $11,456 since 2016. Because these apportioned funds support the necessary structure needed, as well as many other connectional ministries, 100% of any money collected for a disaster goes directly to relief.

The September 10, 2017 issue of USA Today highlighted some of these ministries and how effective The United Methodist Church, along with other faith-based organizations, is in making a real difference in the world of disaster response, “the United Methodist Committee on Relief is known for its expertise in ‘case management.’ After the initial cleanup — where the Methodists have work crews helping pull mud out of houses — the church sends trained volunteers into the wreckage to help families navigate the maze of FEMA assistance, state aid programs and private insurance to help them rebuild their lives. UMCOR also trains other non-profits to send their own case managers into the disaster zone.”

You and I are making a difference when we take up a special offering, assemble a Flood Bucket or hygiene kit, train and/or send out an Early Response or Volunteers in Mission team that is directly supported through the tithes and offerings collected each Sunday. The majority goes to support local ministries, administrative and maintenance costs and utilities. Nevertheless, a portion goes far beyond to be the hands and feet of Christ to those we will probably never encounter in this lifetime.

Ninety-four percent of the proposed 2018 budget stays local to provide the ministries, structure and resources needed for Laurel Heights in partnership with God in the ministries God has equipped us to provide. The greatest resource of any congregation is the people and their desire to serve God, as stated in the USA Today article.

“One of the most critical resources the faith groups can provide is manpower. The United Methodists have 20,000 trained volunteers around the country who can be called up for ‘early response teams,’ basically small crews that can help with debris removal and home cleanup, said Cathy Earl, UMCOR’s director of disaster programs. ‘They are trained they are badged they are background checked and they are part of the team that can be called up on short notice to respond,’ she said.” 

These early response teams are only a small portion of the United Methodists involved. In addition to these teams are those who support them. Those who keep the church vibrant, relevant and faithful between disasters. They may never make news with USA Today, CNN or even The Rivard Report. But without these folks, there would be no UMCOR, VIM, ERT or a great host of other ministries.

So thank you to ALL of you who helped and are helping others rebuild their lives after a devastating loss: Those of you who hold a wiggly infant during worship to help a single parent after the loss of their partner, those who help carry a tray during the fellowship meal for someone unable to do so, and those who put a little extra in the offering plate because right now you can.

See you Sunday,