(Greensboro, N.C. – DNS) – Cindy Wiltshire of Lake Ozark, Mo. believes she can now share stories about the many ways Disciples Mission Fund transforms lives.
Wiltshire was among a group of 41 women who participated in a Quadrennial pre-event in Greensboro, N.C. on June 22-23. For seven hours – spread over two days – the women learned about the history of Disciples Mission Fund – the church’s common fund – and ways the fund, typically called DMF, allows Disciples to pool resources to accomplish greater ministry than one congregation might achieve alone. The training was funded by OGMP Promotion Ministries and a grant from the Oreon E. Scott Foundation.
"The information I learned has got me really fired up," said Wiltshire, a fifth-generation Disciple and outreach chair at her church – Lake Ozark Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). "If people really knew all the facts about how DMF supports ministry and mission around the world, there would probably be so much more support."
The training was designed to help women become Disciples Mission Fund advocates. The women will be better equipped when they go back to their home congregations and nearby communities to talk about ways DMF helps connect congregations to worldwide mission.
"I am thankful the women of Quadrennial were chosen to be part of the DMF advocates program because women continue to be dedicated stewards of their time, their talent and their money," said Judy Row, outgoing president of International Disciples Women’s Ministries. "The training will allow participants to go before their congregations and meet with church boards to talk about the importance of giving to DMF and what that means to our church as a whole." Quadrennial was chosen to launch the project because historically, women have been the most faithful supporters and strongest advocates for mission giving.
DMF supports the work of more than 70 ministries of the church, including regions, racial/ethnic ministries, colleges, universities and seminaries, and general ministries. DMF dollars, shared across the life of the church, support regional activities such as church camps, women’s, children’s and men’s activities, congregational nurture, and assistance with the search and call process. General Ministries of the church receive DMF funding for global, domestic, ecumenical, benevolent, and administrative ministries that connect congregations to one another and our partners around the globe.
DMF giving is coordinated through the Office of General Minister and President. Associate General Minister and Vice President Todd Adams and DMF Director Arlene Pimentel were present in Greensboro to lead the training.
"We have to do a better job of telling our story of mission and outreach and our encounters with the holy," emphasized Adams. "We also need to show how DMF connects the church and why others should support it."
Adams pointed out that Disciples agreed to a common mission fund in 1935 at the International Convention. At that meeting, all congregations agreed in covenant to give 10 percent of their operating budget to the common fund. Today, Adams noted, only 128 congregations out of 3,691 congregations honor that covenantal tithe. Approximately 3,000 congregations support ministry beyond the congregation through gifts to DMF, the four special day offerings and the two special mission funds, Week of Compassion and Reconciliation.
"It is important that we orient ministers, Disciples Women, and outreach chairs to the history and the stories connected with DMF," he said.
Rosetta Smith, of United Disciples of Christ Church in Charleston, W. Va. was one of the participants at the sessions who agreed with the need for more outreach about the ways DMF works.
"I had a basic understanding of DMF, but I didn’t realize the many ministries it supported," said Smith. "This meeting has inspired me to want to educate people about our history, our traditions, and our covenants."
The training also gave the women information on the church’s four special offerings: Easter (which supports general ministries); Pentecost (for new church ministry); Thanksgiving (for leadership development through colleges, universities and theological institutions) and Christmas, (which supports regional ministries in the nurture and establishment of congregations). The Advocates also learned about the church’s two special mission funds. Those funds are Week of Compassion (the relief, refugee, and development mission fund of the church) and Reconciliation Ministry (which advances the church’s journey toward wholeness by healing the wounds of separation within our churches caused by racism and the systems that perpetuate it).
In addition, Arlene Pimentel provided the women with a resource book and PowerPoint presentations that will help in their advocacy work. Included was information on ways to create a culture of generosity; tips for cultivating and soliciting donors; generational differences in giving; the history of women contributing to DMF, and stewardship worship resources.
"DMF touches and changes lives all across the church and around the globe," said Adams. "What we need are people who are willing to tell the stories of how people’s lives are changed for mission and ministry because of Disciples Mission Fund."
To learn more, visit: www.disciplesmissionfund.org
By: Wanda Bryant Wills, [email protected]