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Church uses bequest to helps others meet connectional giving obligations

Church uses bequest to helps others meet connectional giving obligations

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Church uses bequest to helps others meet connectional giving obligations

Jan. 11, 2005    News media contact:  Michael Wacht*    
407-897-1140     Orlando  {0222}

An e-Review Feature
By J.A. Buchholz**

PINE ISLAND — When Pine Island United Methodist Church received a $200,000 bequest after the death of two of its long-time members, the Rev. Scott Harris knew exactly what he wanted to do with it.

Harris wanted to place a large portion of the funds in the general reserve fund and also purchase real estate to accommodate the church’s growing congregation. But he also had in mind helping other United Methodist churches in the Fort Myers District that had been badly hit by hurricanes that ripped through the area in the latter part of 2004 and were suffering financial hardships as a direct result of the storms.

Harris approached the administrative board of the church and requested 10 percent of the bequest be tithed, or set aside, for the district to assist churches in the area that may not be able to meet their connectional giving responsibilities to the Florida Conference.

Harris said he knew the church had done something similar years ago when the church tithed 10 percent of its income to missions. He said giving to others is part of the church’s DNA.

“There was not one dissention,” Harris said. “We knew how blessed we had been to receive the money and wanted to be a blessing to others.”

The Rev. Sharon Patch, the Fort Myers District’s superintendent, said of the 35 churches in the district, only two needed financial assistance in meeting their connectional giving obligations, an amount totaling about $17,000. She said the message Pine Island United Methodist Church is sending by giving the money demonstrates “we are all connected.”

“We are stronger when we work together,” Patch said. “The connection of working together is strong.”

Harris said his church saw the value of churches working together after hurricanes Charley, Frances and Jeanne swept through the area last year. He said his church sponsored mission teams from other United Methodist churches that came to the hard-hit area to lend helping hands.

“We know the importance of the connectional system,” he said. “We have witnessed the best of the connectional system. We are aware of the value of what our dollars are doing through the connection.”

The Rev. Benton Mangueira, pastor at Friendship United Methodist Church, said the dollars from Pine Island United Methodist Church that were tithed to the district assisted his church in fulfilling its connectional giving commitment.

“I think it’s a wonderful idea,” Mangueira said. “It means that church has a great understanding that we’re a connectional church and lets us know we’re not a lone church just hanging out here minding our own business.”

Mangueira said the church was on track to meet its connectional giving until six weeks of storms pounding the area kept members and visitors away and left very little in the offering plate.

“This means a lot to us,” he said. “It means we’re cared for. It’s really been a blessing.”

Harris said that’s exactly what John and Pauline King, who left the money to the church, would have wanted. He said the Kings, who had been members of the church for about 20 years and died within months of each other, always helped the church financially when it was in “some tight spots.”

“The church was their family,” he said. “They were there for us with no strings attached. They were very generous and had always been there to pull the church up when needed.”

About $1,000 remains from the amount set aside to help other churches, but Harris isn’t abandoning the idea of reaching those who need help. The remaining money will go toward helping victims of the tsunamis that hit the Indian Ocean area Dec. 26.

“Helping is what this church, the United Methodist Church, is all about,” he said.


This article relates to Outreach and Connectional Giving.

*Wacht is director of Florida United Methodist Communications and managing editor
of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Buchholz is a staff writer for e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.