Dear Friends in Christ,
Grace and peace to you from God, the source of all our blessings, as we prepare for our national Thanksgiving celebration and the Advent season.
During the Thanksgiving season we offer our gratitude for the many blessings in our lives: food, shelter, loved ones, etc. It is also a time when we are reminded that many around us - and around the world - struggle with those blessings we so often take for granted.
Jesus instructs us to “Let your light shine before people, so they can see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16), our 2022 Thanksgiving Offering provides the opportunity for us to be that light and living hope for those crying out for love, compassion, justice, and grace in their lives.
So with Jesus’ instructions in mind, I am pleased to announce that our 2022 Thanksgiving Offering will go toward alleviating food insecurity across the Dakotas.
One of my memories of serving as your bishop in the Dakotas was the fall mission events that raised several hundred thousand dollars each year. Gifts were received in the form of mission kits and cash each year. The kits were shipped across the world in partnership with the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). Funds collected were distributed to global missions and hungry grants to assist local communities in their efforts to feed the hungry.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created an economic recession, creating greater food insecurity. Additionally, the Dakotas Conference fall mission events have halted. UMCOR is reimagining how and when mission relief kits are collected and distributed.
The need to feed those facing hunger across the Dakotas is still present and increasing. Funds collected from the 2022 Thanksgiving Offering will be distributed to local congregations and communities to help feed those facing hunger. The Missional Impact Link will award grants to United Methodist Churches or United Methodist related organizations. Church partnerships with local food ministries are encouraged.
Feeding America reports that in South Dakota, 1 out of every 9 persons and 1 in 6 children face hunger daily. Collectively, 106, 646 of the state’s population, of which 35,330 are children, deal with the realities of hunger.
In North Dakota, 54,930 people are struggling with hunger including 16,700 children. North Dakota’s reality is that 1 person out of every 15 adults and 1 of every 10 children is struggling with hunger according to Feeding America data.
It is heartbreaking to see people, especially children, suffering from hunger. We pray for the Lord to give the hungry daily bread today (Matthew 6:11). At the same time, we are called to provide the food they need to grow and thrive.
I invite each of our congregations to prayerfully consider a gift of at least $250 to the 2022 Thanksgiving Offering. If we make that commitment, our gifts will feed the bodies and souls of those who are hungry. Let us live out the words of Psalm 146:6-7, 10, “God, who is faithful forever, who gives justice to people who are oppressed; who gives bread to people who are starving; the Lord will rule forever!”
Additional information about the 2022 Thanksgiving offering is available on the Dakotas Conference website at www.dakotasumc.org. Please invite the members and friends of your congregation to experience the joy of participating in this miraculous expression of Christ’s light in the world. Jesus sent the Twelve out to “proclaim God’s Kingdom and to heal … (Luke 9:2), Let us also go forth to bring healing to a broken world.
Your Thanksgiving offering is a gift that will bring honor to God. Thank you for blessing the Lord as you bless others.
With you in the work of Christ,
Bishop Deborah Lieder Kiesey
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