From the desk of Bishop Mark J. Webb: Why Ministry Shares matter
November 8, 2016 / By Bishop Mark J. Webb
Editor's Note: The fall 2016 issue of the Advocate reveals the UMC Connection and how Ministry Shares spark change locally and around the world. Here is an excerpt of Bishop Mark J. Webb's article. See the full article in the print copy of the UNY Advocate/2016/Issue 4 (coming out the third week in November).
United Methodists accomplish big things together. That is true around the world and it is certainly true in Upper New York. We share a common mission “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” It is this mission that propels us into the world around us. We live out this mission in a variety of ways, including the sharing of our financial resources.
Shared Giving or Ministry Shares is a distinctive feature of our United Methodist identity. The willingness of each congregation to participate fully in connectional giving allows us to engage together in ministry beyond the local church, as well as support multiple resources that have as their primary goal to partner with the local congregation for the purpose of increasing vitality and fruitfulness. Connectional giving is an amazing opportunity and gift, not a dreaded obligation!
I have been blessed many times over, as I have witnessed the generosity of United Methodists in Upper New York. The response of giving financially for ministry that stretches throughout our Conference and around the world is amazing. As local congregations participate fully in Ministry Share giving, our dreams for living out God’s call upon us together in this time, become a reality. Not only do we strengthen the impact of our local congregations, but also, we support ministry and mission that no one congregation could accomplish alone. United Methodists do big things together.
We have much to celebrate, but we also must recognize that too often we have been living beneath our potential in the opportunities God gives us through connectional giving. There are realities beyond our control that have limited the resources we are able to share. To ignore that truth would be irresponsible. However, we must also wrestle together with the truth that sometimes our inability to participate fully in connectional giving has been about other things. Sometimes, it’s been about our failure to recognize that God is enough and to give fully in a spirit of trust. Other times, it’s been a way to demonstrate our disagreement toward “something” or “someone.” When we fall short in our giving, ultimately it is us that suffer the impact. Our ability and the ability of sisters and brothers, right here in Upper New York, to accomplish the mission is compromised.
I am so grateful for the hundreds of congregations that participate in payment of Ministry Shares. The commitment and the work that has been done to strengthen this area of our ministry over the last few years is inspiring. Watching churches stay committed to 100 percent giving and seeing other congregations working tirelessly toward that goal has been incredible! Thank you!