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Friday, May 24, 2013
That Time of YearPosted Monday, April 19, 2010, at 10:04 AM
The churches in our area serve both our memberships and the greater community.
One of the ways we serve the greater community is through outreach and missions.
We're nearing the end of April, a time when churches start receiving more telephone calls than usual from people and families in financial need asking for assistance. All of the pastors I know serve congregations that are willing to help and do what we can, each one in their own way with their own guidelines.
And, it seems like this April there is more need than what I've seen since coming to Putnam County.
Most of the congregations in this county are Christian and take very seriously the Scriptures about serving the poor and needy. Yet, most of the congregations in this county are struggling to survive economically just like everyone else. In the words of one television news commentator, "there are limited resources to assist a larger pool of requests."
We've worked out a very good system of checks and balances. We first ask those with needs to go to their Township Trustee to see what government assistance might be available. We then ask that persons go to The A-Way Home Shelter and talk with Debbie Ziegler, the Housing Authority director.
And, like every other agency, these two resources have guidelines they must follow and a dwindling financial "well" from which to draw.
Then our churches get contacted. Sometimes we have to say no to requests because they fall outside of our guidelines. Sometimes we're able to give some assistance but not enough to cover the entire need. I've spent several hours on the phone with other pastors to coordinate assistance; now many of us are meeting throughout the month to share ideas and suggestions.
You hate to say no, but it helps if you can steer the request towards another resource.
And, sometimes it breaks your heart to say no because you know there aren't any more resources available at that time.
I serve as the pastor of Gobin Memorial Church, a congregation that is still recovering from a robbery that nearly wiped us out. There were times last fall when the Missions Committee chairperson and I nearly cried over having to reply that we had nothing with which to help when requests came our way.
Say what you will about the fraternities connected to DePauw but I must sing the praises of the ATO house. They have now given us two donations and specified that their monies had to be used for local assistance to families in need. Indeed, if it hadn't been for the ATO house, our congregation wouldn't have been able to give assistance to anyone during the last several months.
Yeah to the ATOs!
We've got good people in place to do what they can for those in financial need. Give your Township trustee a call to thank them! Send a card of appreciation to Debbie Ziegler. Send a donation to The A-Way Home Shelter.
If you are participating in a local congregation, give a contribution to your Missions Committee. Thank these people as well as your pastor for being the "face" or the "voice" on the other end when families are in need.
And pray. We've got a lot of good people in Putnam County who are going through some desperate times economically. If spirituality involves a community of support then giving assistance is a spiritual responsibility.
How we meet all the needs right now ... I don't know!
That we must try to help ... is a requirement.
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P.T. Wilson is the senior pastor at Gobin Memorial United Methodist Church, Greencastle, and is also the University Chaplain at DePauw University.