One Great Hour of Sharing is This Sunday

One of the great things about being United Methodist is the ability to participate in what God is doing through the church throughout the world. This Sunday we’ll be celebrating One Great Hour of Sharing and receiving an offering which funds the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR).

The United Methodist Committee on Relief is a world-class relief organization. Here’s a  description provided by the United Methodist News Service in 2010 (I’m reusing it because it’s one of my favorites):

Eight days after the January earthquake in Haiti, Melissa Crutchfield led a small team to the island to start assessing emergency needs for the United Methodist Committee on Relief.

The ability of her team to get to Haiti quickly was due in part to One Great Hour of Sharing, an annual churchwide offering for UMCOR taken on the fourth Sunday in Lent. This year’s offering is on March 14.

To Crutchfield, who coordinates international emergency response for the relief agency, One Great Hour of Sharing “is the backbone of what makes everything possible.”

Because that fund pays for everything from staff salaries to electricity to cell phones, UMCOR is able to pledge that it will use 100 percent of donations earmarked for specific disasters and projects on the projects themselves.

And by supporting UMCOR’s headquarter operations, One Great Hour of Sharing allows for both emergency and long-term responses to a wide range of domestic and international disasters and ongoing projects related to hunger and development issues. “All of that takes an enormous amount of coordination and communication,” Crutchfield said.

The high-profile disasters that receive extensive media coverage—the Haiti earthquake, Hurricane Katrina, the Asian tsunami—generally draw enough donations to finance UMCOR’s long-term recovery projects in those places.

But other small-scale disasters do not.

In 2009, for example, localized flooding in New York, Illinois, Hawaii and North Dakota drew requests for assistance but little attention. However, UMCOR can still help with money from One Great Hour of Sharing or other undesignated funds, said the Rev. Tom Hazelwood, who oversees U.S. disaster response.

I’ve always supported giving to One Great Hour of sharing to fund UMCOR’s administrative costs (which are kept below 10% of their total budget). I’m even more happy to learn that part of the money we contribute to One Great Hour of Sharing helps those affected by disasters that draw little or no media attention and thus do not receive designated relief funds.