Golden Cross funds fill needs of ministries, clergy

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Golden Cross funds fill needs of ministries, clergy

Nov. 16, 2006    News media contact: Tita Parham* 
800-282-8011    Orlando {0575}

An e-Review Feature
By Jenna De Marco**

Mary Harris felt God calling her to begin deaf ministry at her church, even though no members had yet requested those services. The Rev. Dan Parrish’s family was facing a health crisis and unexpected medical expenses.

Golden Cross funds were there to help them both.

Launching ministry

Harris, who coordinators sign language interpreters at Conway United Methodist Church in Orlando, remembers when she applied for a Golden Cross grant for her church about 10 years ago. “Nobody said to me: ‘You don’t have deaf people in your church,’ ” Harris said.
That year the church won an initial “seed” grant of $2,000 from Golden Cross, which is designed to give “Christians an opportunity to help friends through emergency aid funds, seed money grants and other Health and Wholeness ministries,” according to a bulletin insert available to churches on the Florida Conference Web site. Money for the fund is collected as a special offering on Golden Cross Sunday, typically in the fall, but churches can designate any Sunday Golden Cross Sunday. The funds help ensure people with both ordinary and extraordinary needs and visions find the help they need.

Conway United Methodist Church immediately began to use its seed money to begin a deaf ministry that continues to expand today. And the church now budgets for maintenance of that ministry.
Among the many changes since it first began: two worship services with sign-language interpretation provided by a rotation of four interpreters, an ongoing free sign language class that meets every Tuesday evening, a membership of about eight deaf people, a Christmas cantata that includes more than 20 people signing, and a regular dinner gathering of members of the deaf community. Additionally, Harris is now a nationally certified sign-language interpreter.

“If I hadn’t had the money to be able to go to workshops, be involved and get trained … I really wouldn’t be where I am right now,” Harris said. “ … I can’t tell you the lives we have touched.”
About six years ago the church applied for and received an additional Golden Cross grant to launch a deaf clowning ministry. Two deaf and four hearing participants have been trained through “clowning college” to speak in sign language and minister as clowns.
“(It’s) really a ministry to children that are deaf that couldn’t relate necessarily to a hearing clown,” Harris said. “ … They sign to them, and they are all excited that this clown is communicating with them.”
The Rev. Ginny Pearcy, the Florida Conference Health and Wholeness Ministry chairwoman and associate pastor at Grace United Methodist Church in Merritt Island, wants people in the conference to know Golden Cross funds affect a wide range of people, churches and organizations.
“It was set up to be a ministry to do several things (including) health and wholeness missions, death and disabled (assistance), the Wesley group home and Camp Pioneer, and the parish nurse program,” Pearcy said. “There’s been some talk about raising awareness of mental illness … . Another one that we are looking at is AIDS and HIV and education, and another one is Hepatitis C.”
Golden Cross is a United Methodist Church initiative in which each conference can set aside a Sunday to collect offerings. Annual collections for the past three years in the Florida Conference ranged from about $10,500 to $13,000.

Pearcy considers physical health and wholeness a biblical calling equal in importance to spiritual, relational and emotional wholeness.

“We’re asking that (churches) set aside some time in the fall (for a collection),” Pearcy said.

Help with the unexpected

The Rev. Dan Parrish. Photo #06-466.

Parrish is pastor of First United Methodist Church in Port St. John. He says he always ensures his congregation receives an opportunity to give money for Golden Cross.

Parrish and his family have received Golden Cross funds twice during his ministry to assist with unexpected medical bills.

“I’ve been helped a couple of times by Golden Cross. The time that was most important was 1981¬ ¬¬— my little girl was born with a diaphragmatic hernia, which means her digestive tract was in her lungs,” Parrish said.
After two major surgeries, the family faced about $30,000 in bills not covered by insurance. Parrish’s district superintendent assisted the family by providing some money from Golden Cross. Recently, Parrish also needed help with other, unrelated medical expenses.
“It really made a difference to us in feeling like we could really get through this,” Parrish said. “ … It’s knowing that you are not there alone and seeing God’s hand at work through the connection. It’s one of the wonderful ways that we can help each other.”
The baby’s surgeries were successful, and the Parrishes managed to pay all of the bills that same year.
“It’s not the size (of the gift) that’s important; it’s knowing that we are not forgotten and out there on our own,” Parrish said.

Many groups depend on grants from Golden Cross. A list of organizations that benefit from the ministry is available on the conference Web site at under the Health and Wholeness Institutions option, which can be found by selecting the Connectional Ministry option and then Health and Wholeness.

Worship coordinators and those needing assistance can access a bulletin insert that can be downloaded and printed and a Golden Cross grant application at under the Health and Wholeness option. Donations should be earmarked for Golden Cross.

This article relates to Health and Wholeness.

*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**De Marco is a freelance writer based in Viera, Fla.

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