One Great Hour of Sharing

One Great Hour of Sharing

What does that phrase mean to you? One Great Hour of Sharing. Having grown up in the Presbyterian church, One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS) makes me think of the little fish banks that we used to collect coins in for Sunday school on Palm Sunday. Some years it was a plastic bread loaf bank. Do you remember those?

As an adult, I came to understand that OGHS was an opportunity for giving, outside of our tithe, to the greater work of the church beyond our doors. This is still true today. The money we give to OGHS doesn’t stay at BelPres. Every bit of it gets divided three ways: Youth Impact Trips, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, and World Relief for Syrian Refugees.

Our youth have three trips planned this summer. The middle school kids will be going to Yakima, the incoming freshmen to Seattle’s Rainer Valley, and the high school are going to Nashville. Why Nashville? Here’s a bit from the information packet:

  • We will immerse ourselves in the city by experiencing firsthand the sights, sounds, smells, and textures of urban life. Our lodging will be located in the heart of Nashville.
  • We will educate ourselves about the city – the unique issues and problems that the people of Nashville face and what God is doing to foster and further His Kingdom there, through the indigenous organizations that operate on the front lines of urban ministry.
  • We will become part of the solutions for the city by offering our time, energy and talent as we support the Nashville ministries. CSM will provide a variety of hands-on ministry opportunities to ensure that our time in the city is spent supplying substantive help to God’s people in the city.

More about all of these trips is to be found at belpres.org/events, among the summer events.

One third of OGHS goes to the work of Presbyterian Disaster Assistance. https://pda.pcusa.org/page/your-gifts-at-work/ Presbyterian Disaster Assistance has been the relief arm of the PCUSA, enabling “the church to share God’s love with our neighbors-in-need around the world by providing relief to those affected by natural disasters, provide food to the hungry, and helping to empower the poor and oppressed.” OGHS helps people as far away as Lebanon, Philippines, South Sudan, and Malawi.

Finally, one third of your OGHS gift goes to the work of World Relief Seattle with Syrian Refugees. The World Relief website shares: Our world is currently in the midst of the greatest refugee crisis in history. By the end of 2014, nearly 60 million people were forcibly displaced, with nearly a third—20 million—living outside of their countries as refugees. Desperate for protection and surrounded by unfamiliar, sometimes unwelcoming faces, refugees are truly some of the world’s most vulnerable people. Working in partnership with the local church, World Relief is committed to helping refugees and immigrants from all countries resettle and rebuild their lives.

So, you can see, whether your gifts are pennies in a fishy bank, or checks in the envelope from your bulletin, your giving to OGHS matters. It matters for the people who are served, and it matters for God’s kingdom work here on earth. See you Sunday!

Responding to the Refugee Crisis in Syria

As more and more people are requesting information about how they can respond to the refugee crisis in Syria, it seemed like a good idea to provide some sources.

First, it is good to know that BelPres was able to put 10,000 from the general fund to the work of Presbyterian Disaster Assistance both in the Syrian Refugee crisis, and to Forest Fire relief here in Washington.  Of course, the magnitude of the refugee crisis is staggering, so we wanted to provide resources for those who feel called to go beyond, to DO something.

BelPres Global Outreach, through Becky Gonzalez, has been working for the last two years with one of our mission partners (not named here, because of the sensitive nature of their work) specifically to be involved in the ongoing refugee crisis coming out of Syria. That work will continue. (ed. In first posting, this working relationship was incorrectly desribed as with World Relief.  We do work with World Relief, just not for the last two years to work with Syrian refugees. Our apologies for the error.)

World Relief Seattle has plans to bring refugees here to the Seattle area for resettlement. If you are looking to get involved in relief for Syrian refugees on a local level, click HERE.

Both Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and the World Relief sites are pointing people to this petition, which calls on the US President and government to resettle 65,000 Syrian refugees in the United States.  Several BelPres members have read and signed.

World Concern is also active in Syrian Refugee relief.  Their story and how you can get involved is HERE.

Mercy Corps has posted some interesting graphics as well as information about how they are working with Syrian Refugees HERE.

The church is alive and moving to help the people of Syria displaced by violence within their own country.  Go ahead and visit these sites.  Pray for all who have fled their home seeking safety in unfamiliar lands that they may find courage, strength, peace and welcome. And that those who provide shelter may find courage, strength and not be overwhelmed in their outreach.

1 Great Hour of Sharing: A Lenten Practice, An Invitation

“Three million refugees is not just another statistic. It is a searing indictment of our collective failure to end the war in Syria.”

In August 2014, the actress Angelina Jolie made this statement about the crisis in Syria in her role as UNHCR Special Envoy (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees). On February 4, 2015, Amnesty International published statistics showing the refugee population to be nearly four million people, with half the refugees being children. The statement made by Jolie found its way into the consciousness of the American public and is now finding its way to us at BelPres. (more…)