United Thank Offering

UTO-mark (1)United Thank Offering (UTO) is a ministry of the Episcopal Church for the mission of the whole church. Through United Thank Offering, men, women, and children nurture the habit of giving daily thanks to God. These prayers of thanksgiving start when we recognize and name our many daily blessings. Those who participate in UTO discover that thankfulness leads to generosity. United Thank Offering is entrusted to promote thank offerings, to receive the offerings, and to distribute the UTO monies to support mission and ministry throughout the Episcopal Church and in invited Provinces of the Anglican Communion in the developing world.

Contact Us


NEW: United Thank Offering e-Newsletter Here

Subscribe to the e-Newsletter: Here

 Webinars Flier Here

  • Best Financial Practices
    Monday, September 19 at 8pm Eastern
    Wednesday, September 21 at 1pm Eastern
  • Young Adult & Seminarian Grants
    Thursday, October 6 at 8pm Eastern
    Wednesday, October 26 at 8pm Eastern

Please join us at https://zoom.us/j/8140408194 or
call in: 415.762.9988, Meeting ID: 814 040 8194.


2017 Young Adult and Seminarian Grant Application Process: Here Young Adult/Seminarian grant Application deadline1st Friday in November, November 4, 2016


Missives from the UTO Board President: Here


Annual Granting  Timeline: Here


Ever wonder where the money you drop into those little blue UTO boxes goes? Here

UTO as Spiritual Practice


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UTO-mark (1)The United Thank Offering Prayer

Gracious God, source of all creation, all love, all true joy: accept we pray these outward signs of our profound and continuing thankfulness for all of life. Keep each of us ever thankful for all the blessings of joy and challenge that come our way. Bless those who will benefit from these gifts through the outreach of the United Thank Offering. This we ask through Him who is the greatest gift and blessing of all, Jesus Christ. Amen.

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October Missive

En Espanol aqui

2 of 4 Tiny Houses—350 square feet on site of St. James Church, Cannon Ball, Standing Rock Reservation


Thanks for a Great Meeting

Many thanks to the work we did in North Dakota and will continue to do.  We have made a great start to the focus and criteria for our 2017 grants, a start to pocket-sized prayer books for 2018, our rubrics for evaluating grants, and our self-study.  Plus we had the visit of a lifetime to the Standing Rock Reservation.


Reimbursement Policy

Just a reminder, please get your reimbursement request in as soon as possible.  Remember if during the scheduled meeting if UTO provides a meal for the group, you are not eligible for reimbursement for that meal if you choose to eat out.  Once those meal arrangements are made through our General Convention Office, we are obligated to pay for them, and I am not able to change the order—I did check on that.  So if you ate out when a meal was provided at the hotel, that cost is one you will have to absorb.


Questions from our Meeting

After the goal setting exercise, I asked people to submit questions.  I got some related to the survey, some related to the role of the provincial coordinators, related to Heather’s travel, the role of the Julia Chester Emery Intern, and to attracting younger people to serve as diocesan coordinators and provincial reps for UTO.  Some are a little rhetorical, but the substance of all is good.


What I would like to do is answer some and save some for our Executive Committee to answer and include those in future missives.  I am sure there are no answers that will satisfy everyone, but I will share what I know and perhaps we can talk about this at future meetings as well.  Since this question was about Heather’s travel, I have invited her responses so you can hear from both of us.

Perhaps we can have a group discussion through a webinar, pose questions on Facebook or our blog, especially to our younger coordinators.

First Question (quoted directly from questions with added punctuation)

  • Why does Heather go speak at various Diocesan Conventions?  What about Province Representatives?  They can do it.
  • Why is the Province Representative not invited to attend when Heather visit—also paid for?
  • Who made decision for it to be done this way?

Why does Heather go speak at various Diocesan Conventions?

Sandra’s Response

Heather is a staff employee of the Church Center; part of her job is to speak on UTO’s behalf.  She has a working relationship with many bishops in the United States and abroad, and she is known to them and often invited by the bishop of a diocese to come and speak.  She can only attend a diocesan event at the invitation of the bishop.  The General Convention (GC) contributes to the UTO budget to partially staff the office and provide an operations budget.  UTO is given an allocation each triennial, and UTO receives our trust fund income—those two sources give us our operating budget, that is how staff are funded and how we pay for our twice annually held Board meetings and printing materials for use by coordinators. You know this, but it bears repeating, this budget is completely separate from our Ingathering income.

Heather is not an employee of the UTO Board, she is hired by the Church Center and has a direct supervisor there to do UTO’s work, and she operates with us much in the way many non-profit organizations operate with a Board. She would be called an Executive Director in most non-profit organizations, but during the time of the by-laws revisions, we were asked to revise the by-laws to call her a missioner.  So we do.

The Board’s primary role is to raise Ingathering funds, and to review and award grants.

I know that Heather has contacted province reps when she is speaking in their provinces.  She will have to speak to whether she always does that.  She has also been directed by her immediate supervisors at the Church Center to concentrate on certain provinces as well.  And the previous Presiding Bishop, Bishop Katherine, directed UTO to make a priority of indigenous ministries.

Heather’s Response

I am invited by Bishops to come and speak at Convention just as other staff of the Presiding Bishop are invited to do.  Sometimes I am invited to come and support a new UTO Coordinator, a new Ingathering process (if they are moving it from a luncheon to Convention, for example), or simply to promote UTO.  There are other times that I am invited to come and speak simply as a member of the Presiding Bishop’s Staff.  Each staff person is assigned three or more dioceses to partner with and we are responsible for attending events as invited and speaking about our ministry area in addition to the overall ministry of the Presiding Bishop’s staff.  I’m speaking at the Diocese of Northern Indiana Convention in that regard, for example.

Province Representatives can speak at events, and many of you do.  The reality is that we don’t have a budget for you to travel or the insurance coverage during this triennium.

What about Province Representatives?  They can do it.

Sandra’s Response

Regarding budget allocations, however, when the budget for 2015-2018 was approved in 2014 there was no provision for province coordinator funding other than to attend Board meetings.

There had been $4000 annually budgeted for president’s travel in 2012-2015, and that was cut to $1000 in 2014 for the 2015-2018 budget.   That $1000 travel fund are used to represent the UTO Board.  For example, I spent about $850 of that budget when I traveled to the Convocation of Navajoland, at their invitation, and you may recall I privately funded my travel to Europe.

Part of our conversation led by Kathy Mank was to identify things we would like to ask the Budget and Finance Committee of the Executive Council to consider when they start their planning.  So if it is a Board priority to attend diocesan and provincial meetings to speak on behalf of UTO, that should be something you put in writing and submit to the Executive Committee for inclusion as a proposed use of funds when we submit our priorities to the Budget and Finance Committee of the Executive Council.

Heather’s Response

The invitation must come from the Bishop and it is up to him/her whom they want to invite.  Often it is about cost and space and they only want one person to come.  Navajoland is a great example of where this is different, Bishop Bailey specifically invited Sandra to come along with me.  The invitation was to Sandra, Kayla, me and my family.  (My family paid its own way.)

Why is the Province Representative not invited to attend when Heather visit—also paid for?

Sandra’s Response

I think the answer to why the province rep is not paid for is included in the answer above—those allocations were not made in the 2015-2018 budget.  As I said, Heather will have to answer the question of how she handles visits since I only know about some visits.

Heather’s Response

With that said, if we did have a budget for Province Representatives to travel and be invited places, I wouldn’t recommend that they travel with me all of the time.  For one, we have limited resources and a great need to increase visibility of UTO, therefore if we can send two people, I would rather send them to two different places so two dioceses hear about UTO instead of just one.  The other reason is that I travel on a pace that would be considered pretty grueling for most people.  For example, when I go to Northern Indiana, I literally am flying in, driving to the event, driving back and flying out.  I will be there less than 18 hours. I do this because it saves money and that’s all that I have been invited to do while I am there.  Sandra will be happy to share with you how challenging it is to travel with me and how fast we turn things around!

Who made decision for it to be done this way?

Sandra’s Response

The Board determines how to best spend the money it has, directed by the Executive Committee, Finance Committee and Financial Secretary.  We were over-spent on meetings during 2014, and our meetings were cut by the Executive Council from 3 to 2, meetings were shortened, so obviously they have some influence on our allocations as well since they approve UTO’s proposed budget.

During Heather’s pregnancy and the first year of her twins’ lives, she traveled less and allocated money from her operations budget for Board use.  That is how we were able to meet our expenses including significant printing costs in preparation for Triennial.  Since she is now able to travel more freely, that funds are no longer available for Board use.

Heather’s Response

Staff travel approval policies are in place for all staff of the Presiding Bishop and we, like everyone else, follow those policies.  When I receive an invitation, I have to ask my supervisor, David, for approval. If it is international travel, then I have to ask Canon Robertson.  If it overlaps with something someone else is doing, I write and notify them as well, in addition to letting the staff liaison for that diocese know that I am visiting their diocese and why. I then tell Sandra where I’m going so she’s aware of my schedule. I also notify Episcopal News Service in case I can get us press for the event. I then contact the Diocesan UTO person (if there is one that I know about) to let them know I’m coming, to find out what supplies they need, if there are specific things they would like me to do while I’m there to support them and so forth.  Sherri can also share more about that, since I came to Maine last year, or Joyce Landers who I am descending upon in February.

Additionally, as I shared with the Finance Committee in North Dakota, I did ask for budget funds to be set aside for Board travel before last General Convention when our budget was being initially reviewed for this triennium. My recommendation was that with cutting the third meeting we could use those funds for additional travel.  As you all know from looking at our budget that obviously didn’t happen.  As I also shared with the Finance Committee, this doesn’t mean that you can’t ask again, especially since so much has changed in the last year on the Presiding Bishop’s Staff.

Sandra’s Summary Comments

I don’t know that these answers will satisfy the questioner’s need for information, but I will continue to address each question as well as I can in future missives.  I will also reach out to Heather or others to help answer the questions when I think it is needed.

If this is helpful, let me know.  I am never hesitant to answer questions, but some we have talked about at meetings, and apparently are not as clearly understood by Board members as I thought.

Calendar Updates

I have entered the dates of travel that I have received from Board members at the meeting, and asked Sherri to update future vacation plans.

Those who have weekly obligations of meetings at your church, EFM, other meetings, we will do our best to avoid those conflicts, but I have found personally that while serving on the UTO Board, my personal obligations have taken a real hit.  So I have arranged with others in my various groups to anticipate that I will have intermittent attendance during the 3 years I am on this Board.

Webinars typically fall on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8 p.m. Eastern Time.  We have found those two days of the week the optimal to get people engaged.  Predictability is also important, so we try to use the same time, days of the week, and phone numbers and log on information to reduce confusion.


From our Extranet Site

Upcoming meetings

May 3-6, 2017

The Condado Plaza Hilton, Puerto Rico

United Thank Offering Board
September 25-28, 2017

Maritime Institute of Technology, Maryland

United Thank Offering Board


Recommendation:  Reaching Out to Diocesan Coordinators by Phone Once a Year

In light of the information on funds for travel noted above, I would recommend that we make phone calls to the diocesan UTO coordinators in our provinces.  I know many of us have unlimited phone time on our landlines at home or on our cell phones.

Here is my recommendation:  make a list of your diocesan coordinators in your province with both phone numbers and emails.  Contact them at least monthly with some encouragement as a group, but make it a goal to call or see each diocesan coordinator at least once a year.  Make sure they are all on the e-newsletter list.  After the call, I suggest you follow-up with a short email.

If any of you have too many coordinators in your province to call once a year, let me know and I will ask members of our Executive Committee to help.  I am glad to help in anyway I can.  It doesn’t have to be a long call, but just a reminder that you are out there.


Slight Change in Focus and Criteria for 2017 Grants

The Grants Committee and majority of the Executive Committee has approved a change to grant requests for vehicle for our aided dioceses.  In the past, those vehicle requests coming outside the United States were fully funded, and those inside the US funded for half of the vehicle cost.

This change was noted and corrected so that aided dioceses will now be treated the same as companion dioceses and allow requests for full vehicle funding.  If you recall this does not include insurance, licensing and other costs.

That change is being incorporated into the material being sent to the Executive Council for its approval of our 2017 regular grant cycle.


See you in mid-November

I will be gone from now until mid-November.  I hope you all have a great time of trick or treaters, holiday preparations, and beautiful fall colors.  I will be in Morocco and Spain for the next month.  Based on my previous travel experiences, I doubt I will have reliable internet service.  So don’t forget to vote, and enjoy your fall knowing you have done great work and that you are much appreciated.




No matter what accomplishments you achieve, somebody helps you.



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September 16 Missive

Ingathering celebration at St. Augustine’s Church in Elkhorn, Nebraska


Ingathering celebration at St. Augustine’s Church in Elkhorn, Nebraska

Reminder of September 22 Zoom meeting with Canon Michael Hunn

Remember that we are meeting next Thursday with Michael Hunn via Zoom.  This is in preparation for our meeting in North Dakota.  He will talk about the Jesus Movement.  Note the Zoom log on is September 22, at 7:55 p.m. on Thursday.


Presiding Bishop Video and Text on the Jesus Movement

This new video by Bishop Curry with his explanation of the Jesus Movement and what it means to him.  You can find the link here to the text in both English and Spanish of the video and the video:  http://www.episcopalchurch.org/posts/publicaffairs/episcopal-presiding-bishop-michael-curry-new-video-loving-liberating-and-life

The video link is both at the top and the bottom of the text message.  I think the points summarized in the text are very useful to us in preparation for Canon Hunn’s meeting with us and our meeting in North Dakota. http://www.episcopalchurch.org/library/video/jesus-movement  (video only)

Bishop Curry’s points from this video:

Putting Jesus at the Center



Life Giving

Relationships With God


Relationships With Each Other


And With All God’s Creation

Environmental Stewardship

The Jesus Movement


Texas Bishop C. Andrew Doyle gave the following sermon during the opening Eucharist of the fall 2016 meeting of the House of Bishops underway from Sept. 15-20.  http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/ens/2016/09/15/the-jesus-movement-reconciling-reality-and-ideal/


Webinars on Best Financial Practices

Kathy Mank, our Financial Secretary, will be providing two webinars on Best Practices for United Thank Offering.  September 19 is the webinar geared toward coordinators at every level.

Please join us on
Monday, September 19, 8 p.m. EDT or Wednesday, September 21, 1 p.m. EDT (Designed for Diocesan Administrators)  Online at https://zoom.us/j/8140408194
or by telephone 415.762.9988,

Meeting ID: 814 040 8194


Shout Out to Heather for the E-Newsletter

Thanks to Heather we have a regular avenue for communicating with local and diocesan coordinators as well as Bishops, support staff, and all of our Board.  We will see how this works out and whether it will have an impact on the frequency of sending out missives to the Board.


North Dakota Update

You may have seen the national news about the attack dogs that came in with security forces in North Dakota where the protests were being held.  It was horrible.

The outcome of the lawsuit was that the judge ruled against the tribe, but within minutes of that decision, a governmental order signed by President Obama stopped the building of the Dakota Access Pipeline. How that will all work out in flux.  I am sure there will be a great deal Fr. John Floberg and others in North Dakota will have to tell us about their experiences.

I have a copy of the latest North Dakota diocesan newsletter with opinions on both sides.  I will bring that with me for those who would like to see it.

Agenda for North Dakota with Worship Assignments

Also in this e-mail is an up-dated version of the agenda from what I posted on the GCO site.


We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.



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Rachel McDaniel named 2016-2017 J.C. Emery Intern

United Thank Offering/Young Adult Service Corps Intern

Read about it Here

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September 1 Missive

Lots of stuff coming out next week

The Young Adult/Seminary grant announcements will be on the blog tomorrow, September 2, but the official announcement will be on Tuesday, September 6.  Also on Tuesday, the letters regarding this announcement will be sent to the Deans, Bishops, etc.  Wednesday, a letter from Kathy Mank, our Finance Secretary, will come out regarding up-coming webinars on Best Financial Practices, and Thursday, Heather’s e-newsletter will be sent out if it gets through all the hoops in time.


Meeting in North Dakota

When we gather at the end of the month in Bismarck, North Dakota, we will be there at an important time in diocesan history.  The Episcopal Church of North Dakota has members engaged in protests about the building of the Dakota Access Pipeline.  Below you will find a few links that will give you some idea of what is going on.

This protest is getting attention throughout Indian Country and the Upper Great Plains.  I believe it will be much in the news when we are in North Dakota.  Protests are related to Dakota Access Pipeline building its pipeline to move the oil across Indian land from the Bakken Oil Fields and the turmoil it is causing because of its effect among native people, their water source and on native land.


Photos and Links to Articles on Protests to Dakota Access Pipeline



Presiding Bishop’s Statement: http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/ens/2016/08/25/presiding-bishop-statement-in-support-of-the-advocacy-of-the-people-of-standing-rock-sioux-reservation/


Below are some maps that might be helpful in getting a handle on this issue.  As you can see we will be visiting the exact site of the protest.  Native people are coming from all over the US to support the protests, so this may be a more interesting visit that you anticipated.



North Dakota History Timeline
History Timeline of the Native Indians of North Dakota
10,000 B.C. Paleo-Indian Era (Stone Age culture) the earliest human inhabitants of America who lived in

caves and were Nomadic hunters of large game including the Great Mammoth and giant bison.

7000 BC Archaic Period in which people built basic shelters and made stone weapons and stone tools
2500 BC Gulf Formational Period with development of ceramics and pottery
1000 AD Woodland Period including the Hopewell cultures established along rivers in the

Northeastern and Midwestern United States which included trade exchange systems and

burial systems

1682 Area claimed by René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle (1643-1687) for France
1775 1775 – 1783 – The American Revolution.
1776 July 4, 1776 – United States Declaration of Independence
1803 The United States bought the Louisiana Territory from France for 15 million dollars for the land
1812 1812 – 1815: The War of 1812 between U.S. and Great Britain, ended in a stalemate but

confirmed America’s Independence

1823 Arikara War – Campaign against Arikara Indians, upper Missouri River, Dakota Territory
1830 Indian Removal Act
1832 Department of Indian Affairs established
1837 Smallpox virtually wipes out the Mandan people at Fort Clark
1862 Sioux Indian war in Minnesota and Dakota. The Sioux killed upwards of 1,000 settlers

in Minnesota then fled to Dakota territory pursued by 5000 US Cavalry soldiers

1861 1861 – 1865: The American Civil War.
1862 U.S. Congress passes Homestead Act opening the Great Plains to settlers
1863 1863 – 1865 Major military expeditions searched rebellious Indians
1865 The surrender of Robert E. Lee on April 9 1865 signalled the end of the Confederacy
1870’s The deliberate great slaughter of the northern bison herds to prevent the Native Indians

continuing the Great Plains lifestyle

1876 1876 – Battle of Little Bighorn, Montana. Sioux and Cheyenne defeated General Custer and the

Seventh Cavalry.

1878 1878-1879 — Campaign against Cheyenne Indians in Dakota (Territory) and Montana .
1887 Dawes General Allotment Act passed by Congress leads to the break up of the large

Indian Reservations and the sale of Indian lands to white settlers

1890 Battle of Wounded Knee – Ghost Dance War (1890–1891) aka Pine Ridge Campaign.

The Wounded Knee Massacre in South Dakota followed the killing of Chief Sitting Bull.

Chief Big Foot led the last band of Lakota Sioux and were massacred by the US Army

at Wounded Knee Creek.

1969 All Indians declared citizens of U.S.
1979 American Indian Religious Freedom Act was passed


Is it Native American?  First Nation?  What do we say?

There is a long-standing debate about how to address members of our American tribes.  Some people prefer Native American, some First Nation, and some Indian. Tribal people may correct you because it is not the same for every tribe.   So just ask, “Do you prefer the term Native American, First Nation, or to be called by your tribe?”  Trust me, I have been corrected many times, so best to just ask, and it may end up being the name of their tribe.


Committee Appointments

I am happy to announce Barbara Schafer and Vernese Smith have agreed to co-chair the Communications Committee.  A big project will starting work on our 2018 Prayer Book.

Birdie Blake-Reid has agreed to chair the Education and Training Committee.  A possible co-chair has not yet been named.

An ad hoc self-study committee has recently formed and met to look at issues related to how to maintain Ingatherings when there is no ECW in place in parishes or dioceses, and how to be fair in appointing members to the UTO Board from Provinces that do not have full representation of ECW in their province, and all things that affect UTO.  We will be talking about this at our meeting in North Dakota and are gathering ideas about how to proceed.  Caitlyn has gathered some information to share.

Prayer Request

The leadership of The Episcopal Church is in a series of meetings on reorganization of the Presiding Bishop’s staff.  The outcome of these meetings could affect UTO.  Please pray for the best possible outcome for Heather and the United Thank Offering in this shuffle.  The meetings will be taking place throughout at least the first half of September.  Your prayers are requested and appreciated.

Zoom Meeting Reminder—September 22, 8 p.m. EDT

Canon Michael Hunn will be meeting with the Board at 8 p.m. on September 22.  Since he is not able to join us in person, this is his meeting with us to clarify what our Presiding Bishop means when he refers to us as Jesus People and the Jesus Movement.  We will have an opportunity to ask questions, and we will certainly want to know how he translates these terms into action for the UTO Board.



Best UTO Financial Practices (a letter will be coming out on this)

Monday, September 19th, 8:00 pm EDT

Wednesday, September 21st, 1:00 pm EDT (Designed for Diocesan Administrators).

Young Adult and Seminarian Grants, October 6, 8 p.m. Eastern

Joel Nafuma Refugee Center, 8 p.m. Eastern Time, November 15 and 16


Human Trafficking Links

Trinity Episcopal Church, Redlands, offers seminar on how to recognize and fight human trafficking




Report and Recommendations Regarding Establishment of the Nebraska Human Trafficking Task Force



An App for your phone to Upload Photos of Hotel Rooms Where Most Human Trafficking Takes Place




Heather is starting an e-newsletter starting next week to be widely distributed.  She plans to send it quarterly, and it will also appear on the blog.  Please encourage people to read it.  It will emphasize gratitude and share information about UTO.


Bring Something to Share About Yourself

For this meeting, please bring a favorite vacation photo.  OR

Bring a photo or story of a protest you were a part of.  OR



Gratitude Books

Bring your recommendation of a favorite book on Gratitude.  We may want to have another discussion as we did with Soul of Money.


You simply will not be the same person two months from now after consciously giving thanks each day for the abundance that exists in your life. And you will have set in motion an ancient spiritual law: the more you have and are grateful for, the more will be given you.




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The Joel Nafuma Refugee Center: Rome, Italy, and Rakin’s Story

In April, The Rev. Heather Melton, UTO Missioner, Kayla Massey, our UTO Intern, and Board president Dr. Sandra Squires, went to Europe in part to witness UTO’s work related to refugees.  These two videos:  The Joel Nafuma Refugee Center:  Rome, Italy, and Rakin’s Story were filmed during that visit.  We share them here to see the impact of your donations and the impact of grants from the United Thank Offering.

In late 2015, UTO set aside $30,000 to Episcopal Migration Ministries and issued a challenge to The Episcopal Church.  You responded, and within 6 weeks UTO received almost $60,000, making our 2016 gift to Episcopal Migration Ministries $89,054 for work with refugees in the United States. That recently issued grant will staff and provide office furnishings for two new EMM offices: Charleston, West Virginia, and Asheville, North Carolina, and will provide support staff to all EMM offices and a resource library to address mental health issues among refugees.
Watch the videos and learn about the work of United Thank Offering in the area of helping refugees in Rome.
 The Joel Nafuma Refugee Center:  Rome, Italy  and Rakin’s Story  Here
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UTO doante 2016_new logo_cropped

Clicking the UTO box will open the donate page. Under “Donation Information” “Designation” click the down arrow and choose “United Thank Offering (UTO).”  Then proceed with the contribution form.



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Allan Yarborough: Missionary in the Diocese Haiti

AllenSermon by Alan Yarborough Missionary in the Diocese Haiti

Full sermon Here

“Tiyolen stood up in her seat–now I don’t know if you know this, but Episcopalians in Haiti are just like here–they have their seat in church and won’t sit anywhere else. Tiyolen sits right back here.

And she moves her way out into the aisle–the musicians dragging on a little bit more unsure of what is going on… and she begins to dance, her tall body and outstretched arms towering over everyone in their chairs.

And she dances, all eyes in the church turn towards her. And she moves with grace. And the music picks back up, carrying her forward toward the altar. And it seems as if she is entranced by the music, having her own moment in her own space.

And just at the moment she reaches the UTO box and places an envelope inside, she stops dancing. And she turns toward the congregation. And she looks around at everyone very carefully, not as if checking on people to make sure they’re noticing her altruism, but rather as a passionate challenge to them to serve.”

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The Friends of Tamar – Combatting Violence with Love

Suitcase Project

The Friends of Tamar is a community of survivors of sexual violence in all its forms, and the volunteers who have helped them start a new life.  Through faith and friendship, we work to transform darkness and despair into sunlight and hope.  Our most active initiative to date is called the Suitcase Project.  Often, survivors of violence find themselves unable to return home and without any material goods.  We provide a packed bag – we call them rays of hope – with approximately three days of essential material goods for survivors, and their children in those cases, as they move into transitional living arrangements.  In 2015, we delivered 120 of these bags to survivors via social service partners in the Omaha, Nebraska metro area.  Thanks to the UTO grant, we’ve been able to significantly expand this effort by having the temporary staff resources to create new partnerships and funding possibilities.  Not only have we delivered over 90 bags in the Omaha area during the first five months of 2016, but we’ve also been blessed to create a network of participating churches supporting survivors in their communities throughout the diocese of Nebraska.  The Suitcase Project was featured on an evening news report in March:  Here  Having dedicated staff also allowed us to research the feasibility of other initiatives in to address the systemic causes of violence in our communities and find the best ways to continue expanding our efforts to combat violence with love.  You can find out more at our website, Here or “Like” us on Facebook:  Here  Thank you for enabling us to make such a difference UTO!

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