“Open Wide Your Hearts!” was the theme of the 2016 Annual Conference, and many members, guests and churches did just that with their generous giving to support higher education and disaster relief mission.
The conference received three offerings during its two-day session, June 16-18; and additional donations have come in since the session to add to giving totals. One offering eventually raised $8,511 to provide undergraduate students with financial aid through the conference’s higher education scholarships program. That amount exceeded the 2015 offering of $7,000.
The offering received during Friday’s ordination service raised about $3,330 for Ministerial Education Fund scholarships to aid Eastern PA Conference seminary students preparing for ordained ministry careers.
And the offering received Saturday morning raised $5,282 to support the construction of a Sports and Fitness Center, named for Bishop Marcus Matthews, at United Methodist-related Africa University in Zimbabwe.
Matthews, who preached during the conference’s memorial service, is the previous bishop of the Eastern PA Conference. He will retire in September as bishop of the Baltimore-Washington Conference, which is raising funds to help build the fitness center. A longtime leader on the Africa University Board of Directors and Development Committee, he joined in a ground-breaking ceremony to begin construction of the new center in June.
In addition to offerings, Eastern PA Conference members and churches also contributed to disaster relief mission by collecting supplies and assembling health kits to aid UMCOR in responding to needs of disaster victims.
The Order of Deacons sponsored the project in celebration of its 20th anniversary since the 1996 General Conference approved the ordination of deacons. Many churches responded to the call to donate supplies that the deacons and others could assemble into health kits during the annual conference session.
About 30 people participated in collecting, assembling and packing 242 kits, according to the Rev. Greg Ellis, Deacon, who reported on the operation. Ellis is Disaster Ministry Coordinator for the conference.
Plus, there were enough extra supplies and cash donations to create another 350 kits. And at least 10 other ministries in the conference received supplies that could not be used in the kits for various reasons.
The kits were taken to the Northwest District HUB of Mission Central at Immanuel UMC in Cleona. The team there verified contents, completed partial kits and had them delivered to Mission Central for delivery worldwide through UMCOR.
Since annual conference, four churches have contacted Ellis about assembling health kits as service projects for their youth and small groups.