By Jessica Brodie
GREENVILLE—Tuesday at Annual Conference celebrated the many ways South Carolina United Methodists engage in missions and global health. From packing health kits to lifting up global and in-state mission work to taking on a world hula-hoop record, it was all designed to celebrate how the Annual Conference works together for healthy bodies, healthy homes and healthy communities.
As Bishop Jonathan Holston said before the offering Tuesday night for the Global Health Advance, “Being healthy is also spiritual, also physical. It’s how we look at ourselves and feel God is calling us and creating in us something new, something bold, something great.”
Teams gathered on the ground floor of the TD Center Tuesday afternoon to pack more than 10,000 health kits for people affected by disasters. The items were purchased with funds donated all spring by United Methodist churches across the state, then assembled by youth and adult volunteers over the course of several hours Tuesday.
Then, while the health kit-packing was finishing, 584 United Methodists gathered in a massive connected line looping a dozen times from one end of the room to the other to break a Guinness World Record for the number of people to pass through a hula hoop without breaking the human chain. It took about an hour, but the connectionalism and fellowship opportunity was well worth it, several said.
“It feels wonderful to be part of something this large,” said Larry Littlejohn, member of Level Green UMC, Bennettsville, sharing a laugh with the man on his right, Bill Reames of St. Luke UMC, Spartanburg, as they demonstrate how to scratch Littlejohn’s face with hands connected.
Jane Harlin, of St. Mark UMC, Seneca, said she and her friend, fellow church member Melissa Higgs, weren’t worried about getting the hoop over their heads. “We had a plan,” Harlin said, nudging Higgs and laughing. “Head first!”
Chris Lynch, who organized the event, said the roomful of people, all joining hands, was a perfect example of the body of Christ.
“The greatest thing was seeing the joy of those who participated, cheering each other on, encouraging each other,” Lynch said.
After a quick break for dinner, the crowd re-gathered that evening for a worship service lifting up global health and our Methodist response.
Tuesday also celebrated other critical missions the South Carolina Conference engages in, including Salkehatchie Summer Service and United Methodist Volunteers in Mission.
“For 40 years in the life of this Annual Conference we have shared in the ministry of Salkehatchie and also in the ministry of volunteers who work both nationally and internationally through UMVIM,” Ken Nelson, conference secretary, said from the stage as thousands applauded the ministries.
Salkehatchie was started in 1978 by the Rev. John Culp to help repair homes for people in need and has served more than 6,000 families since its start. Every summer, about 3,000 volunteers gather in 50 camps to serve 225 families across South Carolina.
“Across South Carolina and whole world, people live in wretched houses that are wet, cold in winter and inaccessible for people with disabilities. Many people with resources do not know or do not care,” Culp said on the video showcasing both Salkehatchie and UMVIM. “But the United Methodist Book of Resolutions calls on churches to help families have a decent place to live.”
Several also spoke about UMVIM, which helps train team leaders to lead foreign and domestic mission teams.
The Rev. Tony Rowell, former UMVIM chair, called it “a wonderful ministry” that helped him to focus his call. He said his time as UMVIM chair was one of the most meaningful in his ministry.
Billy Robinson, coordinator of the UMVIM Early Response Team, said it’s exciting to have God use them as His hands and feet. So far this year, they have responded to disasters across South Carolina, Florida, Georgia and Puerto Rico.
“These are perfect examples of how to be in mission from anywhere to everywhere,” Bishop Jonathan Holston said.
For more photos, click here.
God provides: Wholesale distributor helps UMCSC get needed health kit items for low price
By the Rev. Daniel Eplee
For the 2018 Annual Conference Mission Initiative, Rev. Chris Lynch and the other conference leaders heeded Bishop Jonathan Holston’s call to dream God-sized dreams.
Doing our part in The United Methodist Church’s Abundant Health Mission Initiative, the plan was to pack more than 10,200 health kits for the United Methodist Committee on Relief.
The conference then began to ask each of the local churches to contribute financially so all of the items for the health kits could be bought. The kits cost $12 each, so the conference needed to raise $122,400.
The task for the committee organized by Lynch was to find where it could purchase the items for the kits. The first calls were to local businesses and pharmacies around Greenville. With more than 100,000 total items needed, and more than 10,000 of each item, the orders were too large for local businesses.
The next calls were to corporate businesses, which had all of the items needed, but not for much of a discount for the conference.
It was looking like we were going to need every single dollar that could be raised and then some.
After some research online, the committee found Dollar Days, a wholesale distributer of products. Dollar Days was able to provide all of the items needed for the packing of the kits for less than $22,000.
These items were packed during the Mission Initiative on Tuesday, June 5, during Annual Conference. It included all items, except the $1/kit for UMCOR to provide the toothpaste and the $1/kit for shipping.
Where the conference dreamed the God-sized dream of raising more than $120,000 to pack 10,000 health kits, God provided a way to pack these kits for less than $50,000.
Dollar Days is a wholesale distributer of products with a mission “to provide an extensive assortment of high-value wholesale products with outstanding customer service, while supporting the growth of nonprofits, small businesses and giving back to our community.” Dollar Days, located in Phoenix, Arizona, is fulfilling their mission as they support the South Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church and give back to the community in our partnership, as well around the world as health kits are given in response to disasters.
In fulfilling their mission, Dollar Days helps our conference and all our local churches to fulfill our mission of making disciples of Christ for the transformation of the world.
By Jessica Brodie