Thanksgiving, Advent and Christmas add vitality to the dark days at the end of each year. We are coming into what I believe to be the most celebrative time of the year. A great legacy of faith left by our forebears during the past two millennia fills this holiday season.

The initial Thanksgiving feast was probably based upon the Jewish fall thanksgiving festival of Sukkot (Tabernacles) also known as the Feast of Booths, making Thanksgiving even older than Christmas. Each of these holidays is punctuated by giving of ourselves, our hospitality and our resources to meet the needs of others.


Because of our Thanksgiving remembrances, November also is Native American Heritage Month, a month first proclaimed by Congress in 1994. We are reminded of the rich heritage in food, land, customs and wisdom given to us by the native peoples, who continue to inhabit Indiana as our neighbors and friends.

In keeping with this emphasis, American Indians who are members of The United Methodist Church are in dialogue with our Indiana Conference Native American Ministries Team as well as the national United Methodist Native American Comprehensive Plan leaders. Our American Indians hope to partner and create a United Methodist America Indiana worshipping community in Indianapolis. (Read the story here.)

Advent and Christmas

As we move toward Advent and Christmas, our thoughts are drawn to children and their joy counting down to and celebrating Christmas. Bishop Mike Coyner reminds us to not only to pray and give to our own children but pray for and give to all the children of the world. We draw closer to receiving the Indiana Conference Bishop’s Offering for Children. This year $100,000 was given to children’s ministries here in Indiana, across the United State and around the world through your generous gifts given to the 2009 Bishop’s Offering for Children.

This coming Bishop’s Christmas Offering for Children will be divided differently than in previous years. Here is how our gifts will be distributed in early 2011:

  • Indiana Conference Camping program will receive 20 percent to go to first-time campers and children in need;
  • Indiana United Methodist-related children and youth homes will receive 30 percent;
  • Indiana Conference-related Operation Classroom will receive 10 percent;
  • Local outreach projects will receive 20 percent;
  • Bishop’s fund for emergency children’s projects will receive 10 percent;
  • United Methodist Advance Projects (global and national) will receive 10 percent.

These programs are among those endorsed by the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries or as Indiana Conference Advance Specials. Programs supported by this offering are selected by the Indiana Conference Special Offerings Committee in consultation with the Bishop’s office.

Posters, offering envelopes and bulletin insert masters to assist your congregation in giving to this offering for children will soon be sent to your church. Other materials will be available on the Indiana Conference website. A promotion ad on the page 12 of this issue will give you a glimpse of the four-color poster being sent to your church.

Add to the vitality of others through your generous contributions and celebrations this Thanksgiving, Advent and Christmas.

Daniel R. Gangler

Each of these holidays is punctuated by giving of ourselves…