Rachael Barnett, staff member of The Advance at the General Board of Global Ministries, addressed members of the 2010 Annual Conference Session on Tuesday afternoon, June 8.
“On behalf of the General Board of Global Ministries,” Barnett said, “I would like to thank you for your gifts in 2009 totaling $290,103 through The Advance, including $82,883 for missionary support.”
The Advance is an official program of The United Methodist Church for voluntary, designated, second-mile giving. Through The Advance, United Methodist annual conferences, districts, local churches, and organizations - and individuals and families - may choose to support particular, approved mission programs or mission personnel with their financial gifts. One hundred percent of all Advance giving goes to the chosen mission project or ministry.
In her talk, Barnett specifically highlighted Covenant Relationships, which build partnerships between United Methodist congregations and particular United Methodist missionaries.
Barnett presented a video that illustrated how various missionaries around the world address the denominations’ Four Areas of Focus. Affirmed by the 2008 General Conference, the Four Areas of Focus offer a clear path for United Methodists to fulfill their mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world by addressing ministry areas in global health, poverty, church growth, and leadership development.
In 2009, only five percent of all United Methodist congregations had Covenant Relationships with missionaries through the General Board of Global Ministries. One hundred percent of all gifts through The Advance go to the designated ministry. The annual financial contribution for a covenant is at least $2,500, or five dollars per church member. The Advance recently announced the opportunity for individuals to make covenants with missionaries at the level of $500 per year.
An expanding number of such partnerships are needed to spiritually and financially sustain the church's missionary community. The Advance is challenging all annual conferences in the United States to increase the number of their covenants.
Information on establishing a Covenant Relationships at your church is also available online at www.advancinghope.org or by calling The Advance at 212-870-3718.