First UMC in Brookings, South Dakota is in the midst of a banner year for giving to missions. This congregation has always managed to do their part for missions, ever since LaRayne Wahlstrom of this church served on the UMC’s General Board of Global Ministries. She planted seeds of mission-mindedness, and urged the members to be generous.
This year the church joyfully matched a $10,000 gift of ‘new’ mission giving so that $5000 went to Feeding SD, $5000 went to Solar Oven Partners and the match of $10,000 was received by Give Ye Them to Eat (GYTTE), a community-based agriculture and health program in Mexico, run by Brookings First UMC covenant missionary and husband, Nan McCurdy.
Two gifts of $10,000 and $5600 came in unexpectedly, and were designated for UMCOR.
The gifts in Brookings have been pouring in throughout the year. The July Arts Festival booth raised over $8000 and received another $4000 donation. In September, a drive-in Turkey Dinner served 540 meals and another 85 meals at the Harvest Table, netting over $4,000. Dozens of volunteers are needed for each of these events, which continue to evolve in scope and dedication to creation stewardship. For the first time, ecologically friendly cups, trays, and utensils were used for both events.
Brookings First UMC also gathers annual Church World Service Mothers’ Day and Fathers Day Habitat for Humanity offerings. Some people pledge mission dollars monthly, as well. The Christmas Eve offering is always dedicated to missions - in 2022 it will go to the Pastor’s Emergency Fund for local folks who need extra assistance for gas, heating, food, lodging, etc. In the past, members have invested in KIVA, a micro-loan program which reinvests funds as the principal is repaid. In addition, the church has a covenant with two missionaries associated with the UMC and one Wycliffe Bible Translator.
Because of the congregation’s culture of generosity, the Mission Committee has dispersed over $57,000 to local and Conference programs and International Advance Specials so far this year. In addition, the Monday evening Harvest Table (free meal to community and run from our Community Life Center) is up and running after the COVID-induced pause. The Harvest Table also gives out thousands of baby diapers each year and is supported by local churches and community organizations.
Several members who knew LaRayne Wahlstrom while she was alive, think LaRayne is smiling. They give thanks and they give joyfully.
“Freely you have received; freely give”
Matthew 10:8 NIV