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AC 2020 is a time for giving

Hands giving

Haitian Assets for Peace International, the Bishop Judith Craig Children’s Village, and Michigan Disaster Response are the 2020 recipients of Annual Conference giving.

KAY DEMOSS
Senior Content Editor

The baskets will not be passed among the rows of chairs in the Annual Conference assembly hall this year. However, the Virtual Annual Conference presents the opportunity for all United Methodists in the state to support significant projects with generous giving.

Again this year, Michigan’s Covenant Partners in Liberia and Haiti will benefit from the majority of the dollars given to the annual ingathering. Each will receive 45% of the entire offering. A 10% tithe of the opening worship offering will go to the Michigan Disaster Response and Recovery Fund. This fund allows the Michigan Conference to initiate response to disasters within the state and to begin mobilizing response to disasters outside of Michigan. 

Helping moms in Haiti

Two General Advance Specials are lifted up this year as recipients of the Covenant Partner gifts. Haitian Assets for Peace International (Advance #3020490) or HAPI puts special focus on their “Start Right” program for maternal and newborn health. Valerie Mossman-Celestin, U.S. Executive Director of HAPI, explains. “Our maternal and newborn care impacts families profoundly by saving the lives of the ‘smallest’ as well as keeping mom, the center pole of the household, healthy and well.” The cost for an individual “Start Right” experience is $150. Valerie hopes to be able to support 100 moms with gifts from the 2020 Ingathering.

Women on the frontlines of COVID-19
On the front lines of health in Haiti. On Nurses’ Appreciation Day, HAPI celebrated four dedicated health professionals who staff Felisane Health Center in Mizak, Haiti. (L-r) Mirleine Gard, Myriane Destin, Yolande Zephir, and Fabiola Chery.

HAPI has been in operation in the mountain-top community since 2007. When asked what accomplishment she is most proud of in the past two years, Valerie says, “Reducing the mortality rates of moms, infants, and young children through Start Right.” Start Right midwife Myriane Destin concludes, “Sometimes the baby cannot breathe; we do reanimation for them. Sometimes the women have hemorrhage; we treat them. Sometimes the mothers cannot deliver; we help them with artificial delivery. In the community of Mizak, where we work, we have saved many life thanks to our training.” Read more about how Start Right is making a difference for moms in Haiti.

Feeding kids in Liberia

The Bishop Judith Craig Children’s Village (Advance #11820A) has been meeting the needs of orphans in Liberia for the past 20 years. In March of this year, Bishop Samual Quire formed a COVID-19 Task Force to raise awareness and to slow the outbreak in the country. Two months after the formation of the task force, the Rev. Jon Reynolds, chair of the Michigan Conference Liberia Covenant Partners, talks about what has transpired. “Bishop Quire asked all United Methodist churches in the country to shut down to help prevent the spread of the disease.” Reynolds adds that the government also shut down all schools and non-essential businesses. “That has led to complete economic collapse. And due to the dire economic situation in Liberia, there is no government bail-or or stimulus for the people.”

Food reaches Liberia from Michigan
Liberian church leaders receive food paid for with the giving of their Michigan Conference partners. Food security is a critical issue in Liberia, made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. ~ photo courtesy Jon Reynolds

Food is as critical a concern as coronavirus at present. The Liberia Conference hopes to participate in food distribution to avert a “mass extinction event with more than 10% of the population lost to disease and starvation.” The Michigan-Liberia Partnership has sent some funds for  health, sanitation, and food support during this time. Reynolds said on July 7, “The Bishop Judith Craig Children’s Village needs the support of the Michigan United Methodists now as much as any other time in the orphanage’s history. When I think of all these children have been through, a civil war, Ebola Crisis and now this global pandemic all I can say is those students could teach all of us something about resilience and hope.” The Rev. Robert Sieh, Director of the orphanage, says that dollars from the Ingathering will buy much-needed food. Read more about the situation on the ground in Liberia.

Supporting flood recovery in mid-Michigan

Two months after epic flooding struck the Central Bay Region of Michigan, Conference leaders are partnering with the United Methodist Committee on Relief to assist those whose lives were upended by the raging waters. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) estimates that 907 households suffered significant flood damage on May 19. Hundreds are left homeless since that time. These residents lived in a five-county region, over half in Midland County.

Nancy Money on the scene for weeks
(Right-left) Michigan Conference Coordinator of Disaster Response Ministries Nancy Money shown giving an update to incoming Central Bay District Superintendent John Kasper, Bishop Bard, Coleman Faith UMC Pastor Scott Marsh and Disaster Response Coordinator Dan O’Malley, on long-term recovery plans for the region. ~ mic photo/Mark Doyal

Disaster case managers received UMCOR training on July 20. The Michigan Conference is engaged in preparedness for the long haul, mustering supplies and volunteer labor that will be needed to support the recovery phase. Repairs and rebuilds are expected to take 18-24 months to complete. UMCOR trainer Christy Smith says, “As it seeks to alleviate the suffering of Michigan’s most vulnerable citizens, communities will witness firsthand that resilience is in the Michigan Conference’s DNA.” Nancy Money, Conference Coordinator for Disaster Recovery Ministries, adds, “We have hope and a way to move forward together.” Read more about how hope is pouring onto troubled waters.

Instructions for giving

This offering is open to all congregations and individuals across the state, 

Members of the Annual Conference are encouraged to write a check payable to “Michigan Conference” noting “AC Offering” in the memo. The check may be included in the pre-paid envelope in which the member’s ballot is returned.

Others may donate via PayPal through the Michigan Conference website at bit.ly/AC20offering.