The Illinois Great Rivers Annual Conference has had a long and fruitful ministry in Liberia. Many churches and individuals in our Annual Conference have taken countless trips to Liberia and remain in a close partnership with Districts and UM Churches in that country.
Sue Busler, an active Disciple at Troy UMC, who also serves on our District Committee on Lay Servant ministry proposed an idea to me that I shared with Karen and your incoming DS Rose Booker Jones. A new UM church has been built in Liberia called Bethany. Though they have a new church building, they lack the financial resources to furnish their new sanctuary. Each congregant has to bring their own chair to worship.
Here is the bottom line and the challenge to our District: The Bethany church would like to have 50 pews at a cost of $145 each for a grand total of $7,250. We have 72 churches in our District. Even if 50 of our churches would take the challenge we would achieve the goal. Any of the funds over and above can be earmarked for Lessie Bates Neighborhood House in East Saint Louis.
Here are some creative ideas on how to raise the money: 1) Rope off one pew in the center of your sanctuary and invite individuals to drop off donations in the bucket provided. 2) Invite folks to donate pies for an after church bake sale – call it “Pies for Pews.” 3) Have the UMW or UMM fund a pew. 4) Attach cups or envelopes to the end of each pew in the church for the payment of “pew rent,” – that will go over big – as was common in the early days when churches charged to sit in the pews. (Since so many sit in the back charge more for back pew rent and then you will raise more money or you will get more people to begin sitting in the front. Ha!). You get the idea. Have fun with this.
Now, here’s the catch – we want to do this in May. I know, May is right around the corner, but, when June comes with Annual Conference as well as pastors transitioning in and out of the District, this makes the most sense.
So, here is the action plan: 1) Cast the vision to your congregation. 2) Spend the month of May raising the $145 to purchase a pew for Bethany church in Liberia. 3) After you raise the funds send your check to the District office made out to the IGRC and mark on the memo line “Liberia – Pew Purchase.”
As your outgoing DS, this would be a fitting conclusion to our time together!