Publisher’s Page: More blessed to give
More blessed to give
As the parent of three – and soon to be four – young children, I can attest that there is no shortage of children's books declaring the virtues of generosity. From a young age, award-winning books ranging from Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree to Marcus Pfister's The Rainbow Fish abound to share why, paraphrasing the familiar Bible verse in Acts 20:35, "It is more blessed to give than to receive."
The message of generosity, the theme of this issue of Interpreter, isn't only for children. It's a lifelong message. The Bible is filled with dozens of passages about generosity, nuggets of wisdom for all ages. "Give, and it will be given to you" (Luke 6:38); "Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord" (Proverbs 19:17a); "...for God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Corinthians 9:7b); "You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way" (2 Corinthians 9:11a).
Now that we are a few months past General Conference 2016, I have reflected on the kindness we experienced while in Portland, Oregon. The most diverse General Conference ever, due to an increase in delegates from the central conferences, gathered for the denomination's quadrennial legislative assembly. Kindness, which after all is offering generous friendliness and consideration toward one another, was in abundance during General Conference. Amid the challenging and difficult work of those 10 days in May, we watched many delegates and others interact with a generosity of listening and concern, positively impacted, I believe, by first-time simultaneous translations from the plenary floor so every delegate could use her or his own first language. Generous helpings of grace were delivered daily, and prayer certainly was in generous supply.
As we moved between making decisions for the future of The United Methodist Church and celebrating successes, we witnessed our global connection in the flesh as thousands of people gave generously of their time and resources to be part of the event. We launched new goals for the next quadrennium:
to make a million new disciples of Jesus Christ;
to engage 3 million new people to make a difference in the world;
to transform 400 communities for vital abundant living;
to reach a million children with lifesaving health interventions; and
to double the number of vital congregations.
It will mean taking generosity to a new level as United Methodists around the world commit time, talents and resources to reach these goals.
At the end, the most important action was, to quote Bishop Bruce R. Ough on behalf of the Council of Bishops, "we affirmed our commitment to stay united."
United. Together. Connected.
The essence of United Methodist connectionalism is based on the idea that together we can do so much more than we can do alone. Every United Methodist congregation is connected throughout the denomination through a unique, interlocking chain of conferences. United Methodist churches share their resources, both financial and human, to support ministries beyond the local congregation. It is this common mission and shared governance that result in United Methodists' collective impact for the kingdom of God.
You'll read more about how United Methodists share the gospel and impact the world in this issue, stories about the many ways that the 12.4 million members of the denomination give generously to transform people through education, advocacy, ecumenical ministries, disaster relief and other outreach.
United Methodists, according to statistics from the General Council on Finance and Administration, gave more than $135 million to support various ministries of the church in 2014. More than $373 million benefited benevolent causes, such as soup kitchens, clothing drives and non-United Methodist outreach and mission. When disaster hit, United Methodists contributed $28 million for disaster response locally and internationally. (Source: "State of the Church Report," Interpreter, January-February 2016)
In a word, the people of The United Methodist Church are givers. The single generous action of giving, repeated over and over, by United Methodists in more than 135 countries enables The United Methodist Church to provide ministries and services that advance our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
Because, together, we know that we are more blessed to give than to receive.
Dan Krause is general secretary of United Methodist Communications in Nashville, Tennessee, USA, and publisher of Interpreter.