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Advent offering for migrants set

The Connectional Table and the Council of Bishops designate December 3 for one-time Special Offering.

UMNS — The Connectional Table of The United Methodist Church is designating $100,000 of the denomination’s World Service contingency funds — with the possibility of an additional $100,000 next year — to help United Methodists stand with immigrants.

During its meeting in Oslo, Norway in May, the group joined the Council of Bishops in backing “A Global Migration Sunday Offering” to raise still more funds, which will directly aid migrants and refugees. This one special day was set for Dec. 3, the first Sunday of Advent 2017. Funds received in the offering will go to the denomination’s Global Migration Advance (#3022144), a fund set up in 2014 for donors to designate gifts specifically to support migrants around the globe.

Thomas Kemper, general secretary of the General Board of Global Ministries, stressed this is not a denominational “Special Sunday” – times designated by General Conference for special offerings the denomination collects annually. For now, the request is only for a one-time collection — not unlike what the church is sometimes asked to do in response to devastating natural disasters.

The $100,000 in contingency funds will go toward organizing advocacy work on behalf of immigrants in annual conferences and jurisdictions in the United States, said the Rev. Lyssette N. Perez. She is a Connectional Table member, pastor in New Jersey and the president of MARCHA, the denomination’s Hispanic/Latino caucus.

Originally asking for $200,000 in contingency funds for the advocacy work, the Council of Bishops’ Immigration Task Force noted that the immigration and migration work of The United Methodist Church has been left in the care of its boards, agencies and racial-ethnic plans and caucuses but without any designated funding for it.

The Connectional Table’s budget advisory team recommended instead granting half the request with the expectation that immigrant advocates will request more funds in a year. By then, the budget team expects, the advocates will be able to report results and buy-in from leaders across the denomination.

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