Report to the 177th from the United Thank Offering

November 23, 2016
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In August of 2015, I took over the Diocese of Missouri UTO ministry as our diocesan coordinator. The total of ingatherings from this diocese for 2015 was $8,343.30 (as confirmed by Rev. Heather Melton, Missioner nof the United Thank Offering).
Also during 2015, the Diocese of Missouri received a UTO grant for $31,804.00. This grant was awarded to St. Stephen’s in Ferguson to update the church kitchen in order to achieve health code certification, which will allow St. Stephen’s to continue to be highly engaged in the community through its ministries and to become a partner with local organizations by providing a place where food can be prepared. The updated kitchen has allowed the parish to partner with several community organizations that will benefit Ferguson, a community that has experienced extremely difficult times especially since the summer of 2014.

Thus far in 2016, the diocesan ingatherings have amounted to $3,157.36. (as confirmed by Rita Benson, Financial Assistant, Diocese of Missouri). Parish fall ingatherings have yet to be collected or recorded.

In 2016, the Diocese of Missouri received a grant from the UTO for the amount of $ 3,112.00. This grant was awarded to Trinity Food Ministry Feeding Our Community, Trinity Episcopal Church, (CWE) St. Louis, to expand the food ministry of the church by adding an afternoon meal to the Thursday food pantry session and to replace Styrofoam items with washable dishware. This past year, the food pantry provided food for 9,000 individuals. Many of the patrons are the working poor or homeless. The grant has enabled the food ministry to purchase the dishware, the storage racks, tables, and other equipment needed for sustainability. By using reusable dishware and utensils, the food ministry is being a faithful steward of God’s creation.

The long standing tradition of two UTO ingatherings a year (usually the Sunday after Ascenion and the Sunday after All Saints) has been changed. With the stress that many churches are under with events, fellowship, outreach etc., I have encouraged the parishes of the diocese to do one ingathering a year and make it a thankful event at any time their particular parish finds works for them. 

This promotion is in hopes that more than the 8 faithful parishes in our diocese will be inspired to support and preach the theology of gratitude, and encourage their parishioners to count their blessings by putting coins in blue box and then honor that “counting-of-blessings” by collecting the coins so that our diocese is contributing to the growth and welfare of our world, our country, our diocese, and our churches through the grants awarded by UTO. 

The UTO national ingathering currently raises between $2.5 to 3 million yearly. One hundred percent of the donation goes to grants awarded around the world. Every cent that is collected through Blue Boxes and Blue Envelopes is given away in grants. Remember that the United Thank Offering is a sacramental sign of our inward gratitude for each blessing/gift we receive, turned to outward visible mission. 
May we all continue to grow in God’s love and grace. 

Jeanne Lucas King
Diocese of Missouri UTO Coordinator
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