Weekly Mission Spotlight: One Great Hour of Sharing

Around the world, millions of people lack access to sustainable food sources, clean water, sanitation, education, and opportunity. The three programs supported by One Great Hour of Sharing — Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, the Presbyterian Hunger Program, and Self-Development of People — all work in different ways to serve individuals and communities in need. From initial disaster response to ongoing community development, their work fits together to provide people with safety, sustenance, and hope.

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) is the emergency and refugee program of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). It enables our congregations and mission partners to witness to the healing love of Christ through caring for communities adversely affected by crisis and catastrophic event. Find an interactive world map with OGHS recipients at pcusa.org/oghsmap. In the first half of 2020 (1/1/20-6/30/20) PDA granted $4.1 million as 487 grants in the United States and 57 countries. Of that, $2.5 million was for COVID-19 response. Receives 32% of funds raised

The Presbyterian Hunger Program (PHP) takes action to alleviate hunger and eliminate root causes, care for creation, and the systemic causes of poverty so all may be fed. In 2019, PHP gave 94 grants totaling over $1 million, impacting 20 countries, including the United States. This included $161,000 that specifically went to alleviate famine in South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and Northern Nigeria. PHP partnered with 17 presbytery Hunger Action Advocates, 175 Hunger Action Congregations and 234 Earth Care Congregations across the country in 2019. Receives 36% of funds raised

The Presbyterian Committee on the Self-Development of People (SDOP) works with low-income communities to overcome oppression and injustice and educate Presbyterians about the impact of these issues. In 2020, National SDOP entered partnerships with projects that focused on advocacy, youth-led initiatives, skills development, farming, worker rights, immigration/refugee issues and capacity building. Through gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing, projects in economically poor communities around the world have had an opportunity to develop solutions to their own challenges. Find an interactive map with OGHS recipients at pcusa.org/oghsmap. Receives 32% of funds raised

The pandemic has stretched the Church in many ways — but we are still very much … here. Although it was surely hard at first, we have expanded our thinking, and our doing, in new and innovative ways to close the distance, and be together. We have continued to worship. We have continued to build and shape community; we have continued to take care of one another.

And on top of all that, we have continued to come together to serve those in need; both here in our own community and all over the world through our participation in special offerings and in the spirit of shared mission. Despite the difficulty, struggle and loss, the Church continues to declare its presence in the world, through different means, certainly, but toward the same purpose.

The Church has found life and vitality in a bevy of different places: online, in parking lots, on social media, and even on the phone. This reminds us that the Church has always existed beyond the doors of our own, and all buildings. Although we value our community and time together, and we surely miss those bonds when we are physically apart, the plain fact is the Church is not the building.

Scripture reminds us time and again that God’s people belong with those in need, releasing people from the bonds of injustice and with the hungry whom we are to welcome into our homes. The Church finds itself with those who are thirsty, imprisoned, and suffering illness, as Jesus says in Matthew 25. “When did we see you?”— in a time of need, in a time of weakness? In a time of hunger, in a time of thirst?

Even without a pandemic, it is a truth, a reminder, that in every time and season, the Church finds itself through relationships with those in need. We belong in this place, not just to help address those needs, though that is surely part of it. We belong there, also, because it is through relationships that we might be transformed, too, as we become/experience/create/live the Church, together.

For more than 70 years, One Great Hour of Sharing has been the largest way Presbyterians come together to do mission and ministry with those whom we see are in need. Through these gifts, we declare that the Church belongs with people whom we see suffering from the terrors of howling winds and natural disasters; those from whom we see COVID-19 took futures and livelihoods, and the whole cultures threatened as a result. The Church finds itself with those whom we see are thirsty because of too few water wells, and with those who are thirsty because of a lack of political will and the failure of powers and principalities to act in order to secure safe water for everyone. The Church belongs always, and forever, with those struggling for justice, righteousness and peace.

Received during the season of Lent (February 17 – April 4), each gift to One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS) helps to improve the lives of people in these challenging situations. The Offering provides us a way to share God’s love with our neighbors in need and to work for a better world.

If you would like to contribute to One Great Hour of Sharing, please send a check to the church made out to First Presbyterian Church, and notate One Great Hour of Sharing in the memo line.