Sat 29 Jul 2006
The United Thank Offering Ingathering at the Convention Eucharist, while a highly visible and moving event, is but one part of a process that moves along year in and year out and is, at its core, all about THANKFULNESS.
The UTO is not meant to be about writing a check once or twice a year for ingatherings at the parish level. Instead, it’s about the discipline of prayer. People of all ages are encouraged to offer prayers of thanks everyday. As these prayers for blessings big and small are offered, donations — just a coin or two — placed inside a UTO “blue box” are encouraged. These offerings are turned over to parish-based UTO coordinators once or twice a year during ingatherings. This money, in turn, is combined with offerings from congregations around the diocese and sent to the national UTO office where it’s added to all other offerings. Overall, over the past few years, gifts given in thank-filled prayer have totaled $2 million-$3 million. This money is returned to dioceses in the form of grants to further mission and ministry, and the circle of thankful people expands.
The grant process begins at the local level in each diocese and province, with an organization or ministry contacting the diocesan UTO coordinator for an application. Once the application is completed, each diocesan bishop must approve the UTO grant requests from their diocese, verifying each meets the two primary UTO criteria:
- addressing compelling human need
- advancing the mission and ministry of the church
Each diocese may submit only two grant applications each year, and the diocesan bishop must rank them in order of need. In the case of the Diocese of North Carolina, the bishop works closely with the diocesan UTO coordinator and her ECW committee in order to complete the grant requests every January.
Applications are then forwarded to the National UTO Commitee. As explained by Joy Tway, immediate past president of the UTO, the review process goes like this: “After months of work talking to every organization and ministry applying for UTO grants and working with diocesan coordinators and bishops to obtain the best information and greatest understanding of each need, the final grant review session is nine days of blood, sweat and tears, and much prayer.” There’s never enough money to meet all the requests.
In a General Convention/ECW Triennial year, grants are voted on and announced during Convention/Triennial. Attending the 2006 grants hearing were diocesan UTO coordinators as well as some ECW Triennial delegates and interested clergy.