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March 18 is One Great Hour of Sharing offering

A UMNS Report
By Linda Beher*
Feb. 23, 2007

Goharik Gevorgyan can now afford to attend school in Armenia because the United Methodist Committee on Relief helped her family start a fish-smoking business through its micro-credit program for women. A UMNS photo by Zavan Khachikyan, UMCOR.

Goharik Gevorgyan lives in rural Yerevan, a “marze,” or province of Armenia, where interlacing mountain ranges surround her home.

She attends school regularly because her mother now can afford school fees that were once a constant worry. Thanks to a small-business loan from a micro-credit program run by the United Methodist Committee on Relief, Mrs. Gevorgyan operates a fish-smoking business that provides a decent living.

UMCOR operates such ministries in Armenia and around the world because of extra financial support through the annual One Great Hour of Sharing offering received by United Methodist congregations across the United States. This year’s special offering will be conducted March 18.

For more than 50 years in the United States, millions of Christians have joined annually for One Great Hour of Sharing—to share God’s love through a special offering to help vulnerable people around the world. This year’s offering is sponsored by Church World Service and nine Christian denominations, including The United Methodist Church. Together, the offering supports ministries that help people and communities suffering from the effects of disaster, conflict or severe economic hardship.

Through United Methodist congregations, One Great Hour of Sharing is a primary funding source of UMCOR, which does not receive denominational apportionment or World Service funds. UMCOR is the agency that, in behalf of The United Methodist Church, brings hope and aid when catastrophe strikes anywhere in the world.

UMCOR has worked in Armenia since 1994 in response to chronic war, extreme poverty and natural disasters. Through agency ministries such as the AREGAK micro-credit program for women, Goharik and children like her now live with hope.

The word “aregak,” or “sunshine” in Armenian, is an acronym for the ministry established in 1997 aimed at raising the living standards of poor women throughout Armenia.

The AREGAK program provides small loans backed by groups of guarantors selected by the applicants themselves. Before a loan is granted, the applicant and her financial support group attend training sessions to ensure success. More than 15,000 clients have built home businesses, expanded existing enterprises and, most importantly, transformed hopelessness into hope.

One Great Hour of Sharing donations are essential to UMCOR because the funds help underwrite the cost of doing business so that 100 percent of the money donated to a specific UMCOR project goes to that project and not to home office and administrative costs, according to the Rev. R. Randy Day, chief executive of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, UMCOR’s parent agency.

“The One Great Hour of Sharing offering on March 18 is a gift of stability to UMCOR,” said Day. “Our ability to respond and remain until the job is done is in direct proportion to the generosity of United Methodists at this time of offering.”

Offering gifts from One Great Hour of Sharing over and above those used to cover administrative costs are channeled where they are most needed, Day said. UMCOR’s specialized ministries—responding in disaster, fighting hunger, alleviating poverty, providing relief supplies around the world and offering hospitality to immigrants and refugees—all assist the world’s most vulnerable people.

To learn more about the offering and how to order free resources, visit the UMCOR Web site. To request free leaflets/offering envelopes and posters, visit United Methodist Communications online or call (888) 346-3862.

Those who cannot donate through a local church can send a check, designated for One Great Hour of Sharing, directly to UMCOR at P.O. Box 9068, New York, NY 10087. Credit card donations can be made by calling (800) 554-8583.

*Beher is communications director for the United Methodist Committee on Relief.

News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or newsdesk@umcom.org .

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