When people of faith give, we put ourselves and our money to work for God’s mission near and far.
General Bd of Global Ministries
At least since its formation in 1968, The United Methodist Church has pursued its global mission through four goals, as expressed in the work of its mission society, the General Board of Global Ministries. Those are:
- Making disciples of Jesus Christ, which also forms the mission statement of the denomination as a whole: “To make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”
- Strengthening churches and communities, which means increasing the capacity of congregations to witness to their faith, to better serve their local community, and to promote better relations among neighbors.
- Alleviating suffering, a goal pursued through disaster relief, development, health ministries, and offering service to women, children, and families—and notably at present—with immigrants.
- Promotion of justice, peace, and freedom—covering a range of causes including human and civil rights; religious liberty; equal treatment regardless of race, nationality, or gender. This work also includes the reconciliation of parties in conflict and respect for and the inclusion of indigenous people who have been long marginalized in church and society.
Our gifts toward the accomplishment of these goals have many specific uses. Currently, Global Ministries emphasizes giving for four types of ministry and mission:
- Missionary Support. As of late 2017, the agency employed 355 missionaries, including 183 in international places, 51 in the United States, and 121 young adult Global Mission Fellows around the world (including 21 in the U.S.). In addition, Global Ministries provides grants to help fund 309 “Nationals in Mission,” mission workers in their home countries outside the U.S.
- Disaster Relief. Millions of people around the world are affected each year by natural disasters, such as storms, earthquakes, and volcanoes, as well as famine, warfare, and discrimination. Relief and redevelopment is the responsibility of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), a Global Ministries’ unit, which is also committed to sustainable agriculture, clean water, and effective sanitation.
- Ministries that connect United Methodists in mission. As a connectional people, The United Methodist Church is most effective when its conferences and congregations partner together in mission. I often hear United Methodists enthusiastically speak of how we can do more together than we can apart. This is especially true in mission initiatives, where our church is newly introduced to remote areas of the world.
- Abundant Health for All. Long a commitment of the people called Methodist, our passion for health ministries was reignited by the Imagine No Malaria campaign. Today, Abundant Health coordinates a wide range of ministries, including a network of hospitals and clinics, annual conference health boards, and coordinators in Africa, congregation-based programs in the U.S., and a commitment to provide life-saving interventions for a million children by 2020. Global Ministries provides leadership to the Abundant Health initiative, working across the denomination to be a global connection striving for mental, physical, and spiritual well-being.
How We Give
United Methodists give to mission in direct and indirect ways. One of the primary ways is through apportionment contributions made by local congregations across the connection. The World Service Fund, one piece of the apportionment, supports many general church causes, including Global Ministries.
Many individuals and congregations go a “second mile” and support disaster relief, development projects, and missionaries through The Advance. The Advance, our denomination’s shared program for designated mission giving, ensures that 100 percent of each gift goes to the donor’s chosen project or program or for missionary support. Many individuals also give direct gifts to Global Ministries and UMCOR and remember our work through planned giving and estate gifts, financial vehicles that carry their legacy forward for generations.
We Do More Together
Many of us are familiar with the custom of naming buildings, rooms, schools, and other spaces for donors. This is common practice at universities, hospitals, and even in some churches. A friend recently asked a group of us what we’d want our name on—if we had the money to do it. One person said a scholarship—with the knowledge that the resources would help educate another generation. One said he would fund an endowed position in homiletics at his seminary to ensure great preaching for generations to come. I said I’d fund a bridge on a greenway trail because I love the idea of connecting the two sides.
As I reflected on our answers, I realized that each of us was more interested in the impact than in the recognition. I also realized that it would take more than just our individual gifts to make a difference. One scholarship or one professor is not a whole university. It takes more than a bridge to make a trail. And the same is true when we give to mission.
One gift is seldom enough to accomplish the whole task or project. It takes many gifts—from individuals, churches, and conferences. Indeed, it takes the people of The United Methodist Church to have a global impact for Christ and the Kingdom.
READ MORE about why we give.