United Thank Offering – Why It Matters to Me
I grew up Baptist. We didn’t have the UTO or mite boxes like other churches had; we had the penny march. Every Sunday, the children would get up and march down the aisle of the church gathering pennies for mission. Fast-forward several years to a marriage and confirmation into the Episcopal Church, where I was introduced to the United Thank Offering (UTO). Twice a year, there were announcements made about a Blue Box, coins, and a date to turn in the money collected. A check was written and dropped in the offering plate, and well, that was it until the next announcement and the process was repeated.
Fast-forward a few more years. We have one daughter. Her name is Kayla. Kayla is a cradle Episcopalian and has been very involved in the church since she was big enough to carry a candle. Kayla was the first Young Adult Service Corps (YASC) member from the Diocese of Upper South Carolina, during which she served in the Philippines. She also was chosen to serve as the first-ever Julia Chester Emery UTO/YASC intern. This is how I really came to know what the UTO mission is.
As Kayla would tell us all the who, what, where, and whys about the UTO mission, all I could say is REALLY? They do all that? REALLY?
It’s a little overwhelming! All of the grants given each year by UTO are funded from the coins in your little Blue Boxes. Blessings given from blessings you receive. All the money collected is used for the grants, which are given out worldwide. In 2016, Gravatt Camp and Conference Center in South Carolina received a $46,800 grant! See the UTO website for all the grants.
I’ll admit though, my Blue Box is a little lacking. Not because I haven’t been blessed, but because I never have cash or change; debit card is too easy. I have decided to keep some scraps of paper next to my box to write my blessings on and put those in the box. I will then write a check and put the check in the UTO envelope. If you’re like me and short on change or cash, I hope you’ll join me in using your Blue Box to mark moments of gratitude and help your blessing go on to transform communities throughout The Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion.