The Bishop’s Christmas Offering: Providing Hope for the Holidays

The Bishop’s Christmas Offering is an Indiana United Methodist commitment that has supported faith-based ministries actively engaged in transformation in the lives of children around the world for over the past 30 years.  

Each holiday season, Indiana United Methodist Churches are invited to participate. Some churches collect offerings throughout Advent season while others donate the offering of a single Sunday. Over the past four years, the Conference has received nearly 900 checks totaling $316,713 from churches, individuals, and annual foundation grants that have contributed to the offering.

Driven by a passion to support vulnerable children, the core mission of the Bishop’s Christmas Offering is to strengthen ministries worldwide and improve the lives of young people. The funds raised benefit various missional programs, including:

  • Indiana Conference Camping Program (20%)
    • Indiana United Methodist-related children and youth homes (20%)
    • United Methodist Advance Projects (national and global) (20%)
    • Bishop’s fund for emergency children’s projects and offering promotion (20%)
    • Local outreach projects (20%)

From local outreach endeavors to global education projects, the following testimonials and stories offer a glimpse of the direct impact that the Bishop’s Christmas Offering has had on various ministries.

Brightwood Community Center

Local outreach programs dedicated to improving children’s lives are encouraged to apply for the annual Bishop’s Christmas Offering grant. A 2022 recipient, Brightwood Community Center, is a central Indiana nonprofit dedicated to building stronger families and vibrant communities.

Executive Director of Brightwood Community Center, Shonna Majors, attests to the profound impact of the Bishop’s Christmas Offering grant on their programs, sharing heartwarming stories from their ministry.

“We are so grateful for the funding received by the INUMC,” said Shonna. “We were able to purchase backpacks, school supplies, and hygiene items for each of our 29 students from summer camp as well as 15 additional children from another camp during our summer block party.”

Addressing the challenges faced by the children in low-income communities, Shonna emphasized the importance of ensuring access to basic school supplies and hygiene items.

With rising food and gas prices, the initiative aimed to alleviate financial burdens for families. The impact was evident through the joyful responses from the children that received the backpacks. “The kids were surprised and very happy with these backpacks. The parents were so grateful – plenty of hugs to go around!” Shonna said.

Impact 2812 Camping Program

Every year, 20% of the funds raised through the Bishop’s Christmas Offering are donated to the Impact 2818 general scholarship fund. This money helps children and families attend camp that may not have been able to otherwise.

Tanner Ginder, site manager at Camp Lakewood, shared one scholarship recipient’s story:

“This summer, we went through the book of John and utilized Jesus Being the Good Shepherd. To help tell this story, we had sheep on-site all summer. While petting and feeding the sheep one day, a camper exclaimed, ‘Is this what the sheep in the Bible feel like?’ To our great joy, we got to say yes, and further share the Gospel and how we are like sheep and how God is our shepherd.”

Each year, Tanner hears stories of campers returning home and getting baptized as a result of their time being at camp, But the impact doesn’t stop there. Returning campers at Lakewood recall scripture memory verses from previous summers.

Scholarships from the Bishop’s Christmas Offering enable children and families to experience camp, but it also prompts moments of spiritual discovery and growth, which changes lives.

Operation Classroom

Another ministry that is impacted annually by the Bishop’s Christmas Offering is United Methodist Advance Projects like Operation Classroom. This ministry helps young people in Liberia and Sierra Leone receive education and break the cycle of poverty.

In-county coordinator for Operation Classroom, Helen Roberts-Evans, said that without the scholarship funds raised through the Bishop’s Christmas Offering, none of the students would be able to attend school. With no help from the government to provide secondary education, students’ parents must pay fees, oftentimes putting their families into a stressful financial situation.

In October 2023, 25 students graduated at the First UMC in Greenville, Liberia. Abraham, the valedictorian, gave a heartfelt speech to his graduating class, during which he specifically thanked Operation Classroom for the scholarship that made it possible for him to attend and graduate high school.

‘Tis the Season for Giving

As we approach the holiday season, churches and individuals are encouraged to join in fostering hope and positive change through contributions to the Bishop’s Christmas Offering. For more information on how to donate or mobilize your community for this special offering, click here. Together, we can create a lasting impact on the lives of children worldwide.

For resources to help promote Bishop’s Christmas Offering within your congregation, click here.