Group turns $10 challenge into $26,000
BRANDON - At the end of a November worship service, members of First United Methodist Church of Brandon were invited to take $10. They invested this "reverse offering" and brought back $26,000 at the end of December. The money earned is being sent to their sister parish in Holeta, Ethiopia. "People were incredibly creative in their quest for spiritual profit," said Victoria "Vicki" Harrison, director of member care. "Some pooled their money and invested it; some sold lunches at work; one woman offered foot rubs for donations; and many others baked or made things."The church sponsored two bazaars at which parishioners sold items they made: baked goods, jewelry, wooden bowls, jewelry boxes, ornaments and framed photographs. "There was an incredible energy at each of the bazaars. People were so excited to be using their God-given talents and resources to earn money for the kingdom," Harrison said. First Choice Southern Bar-B-Que and a Sunday school class served lunch at the events and donated all profits. Harrison chose to host a garage sale and involved her three young children, who contributed a guitar and large playhouse. The seed money was distributed from the church's missions budget. Of the 300 envelopes offered, about 250, representing $2,500, were taken, Harrison said. Harrison, who attends seminary, occasionally shares a message with the congregation. "In November, I preached on the parable of the talents," she said. "I challenged them to take the $10 and earn a 'spiritual' profit on it, to pray about what God wanted them to do, be creative and think out of the box." The project targeted a basic need in the Ethiopian community: proper sanitation facilities. The current situation breeds disease and parasites, especially among children, said Harrison. Building latrines will be the first project to be completed with the talent-challenge money. Because they raised more than the $10,000 needed for the latrines, they also have enough to build a vocational training center for the villagers. Church member Denise Gower said it was amazing to learn "what can be done with an idea and a little cash … and God's help."
Contact Barbara Routen at Neighbors@tampabay.rr.com.