Dear People of God in the Episcopal Church
I love a good party, so I’m glad to have an excuse to throw one on September 24 when the Episcopal Church celebrates the 165th birthday of Julia Chester Emery, the founder of the United Thank Offering.
Miss Julia, as she was called, is one of my favorite Episcopal saints. She led the Women’s Auxiliary of the Board of Missions for forty years—that is a very long time to hold a job—and she was unstinting in her devotion to the church’s mission. In 1889, she founded the United Thank Offering, and today we still fill blue boxes with coins to mark our gratitude for God’s gifts. Miss Julia was so devoted to her work that, when a priest proposed marriage to her, she refused because she knew that she would be expected to give up her work. Among the things for which I am most grateful is that women in today’s church are not forced to choose between ministry and family.
You’ll find that it’s easy to throw Miss Julia a party. The UTO office has provided photo booth props, posters, Sunday School lessons, bulletin announcements and more. You can also visit pinterest.com/unitedthankoffering for more inspiration. Post your photos and videos on Facebook and Instagram so we can celebrate together online.
In its first year, the United Thank Offering raised $2,188.64, which was used to build a church in Anvik, Alaska and to send a female missionary to Japan. Last year, the UTO made 32 grants totaling $1,161,314.62 to congregations, missions, and ministries across the Episcopal Church. On September 24, I hope you’ll join me in celebrating Miss Julia’s extraordinary legacy to all of us in the Episcopal Church and in expressing your gratitude by giving to the United Thank Offering.
The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings
President, House of Deputies of the Episcopal Church