Christmas celebrations and children are a natural fit. Unfortunately, many children here at home in Indiana and around the world can't celebrate the specialness of this holiday. We can make a difference in their lives through our gifts during the coming seasons of Advent and Christmas.
As a new Indiana Conference, United Methodist congregations statewide will be receiving this special Indiana Conference-wide United Methodist Offering for Children during Advent and Christmas.
In preparing for this offering, Indiana Bishop Mike Coyner urges all United Methodists to first pray for all the children of the world. Malaria and the AIDS pandemic in Africa, the continuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the civil unrest in the West Bank and Darfur are extreme examples of both children and adults living in disastrous situations.
"Pray, too, for children right here in Indiana who have a difficult time because of broken homes, unemployed parents and an uncertainty about their future. As we pray, God's spirit goes before us and hears our requests on behalf of all the world's children," Coyner said.
Second, please match your prayers with action, by receiving the Indiana United Methodist Offering for Children this Advent and Christmas in your congregation," he said.
Earlier this year, the area special offering committee received more than $129,000 in funds from this past year's offering, a $19,000 increase above the 2007 offering and $39,000 more than what was received in 2006. These funds were sent to 16 projects here in Indiana, seven projects across the United States and ten projects in other needy places around the world through Advance Speials, second mile mission giving. Those projects are listed on the bulletin inserts and envelopes in this year's promotional materials. The Bishop's Christmas Offering committee will equally divide this offering into thirds for projects in Indiana, the United States and around the world.
The poster image for this Special Christmas Offering (see page 12) comes to us from Africa. The girl is a recipient of United Methodists funds in support of health ministries in Africa. Her image reminds us of the millions of children who directly benefit from the generosity of United Methodists here in Indiana and across the world.
A portion of our Christmas Offering will go to the United Methodist ministries to the children of the North Katanga Annual Conference, the Babyfold at Old Mutare Hospital in Zimbabwe and another Babyfold in North India, a children's hospital in Haiti, a fresh water project in Brazil and the Infant Welfare Center in Old Jerusalem.
As your congregation plans for Advent and Christmas, please include in those plans Indiana's Bishop's Christmas Offering for Children.
Posters, offering envelopes and a master for bulletin inserts will be mailed to each United Methodist congregation statewide.
Please send your Children's Christmas Offering to your Conference Treasurer at: Children's Christmas Offering, North Indiana Conference Treasurer, P. O. Box 869, Marion, IN 46952 or Children's Christmas Offering, South Indiana Conference Treasurer, 1520 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5167.
Thank you for your generous contribution to this special offering for children this Advent-Christmas.