What’s in a little blue box?
In Africa some might say “life-giving water”, in Central America others might say “education”, and in the U.S. some might say “health and well-being”. What is this little blue box? It is the vehicle for a personal spiritual discipline of thanksgiving.
The Blue Box is the source of funds for the United Thank Offering (UTO), a ministry of The Episcopal Church for the mission of the whole church. According to The Episcopal Church website, “through United Thank Offering, men, women, and children nurture the habit of giving daily thanks to God. These prayers of thanksgiving start when we recognize and name our many daily blessings. Those who participate in UTO discover that thankfulness leads to generosity. United Thank Offering is entrusted to promote thank offerings, to receive the offerings, and to distribute the UTO monies to support mission and ministry throughout The Episcopal Church and in invited Provinces of the Anglican Communion in the developing world.”
In the past four years, two ministries in the Diocese of Southern Ohio have received grants from UTO: St. James’, Clintonville (Columbus), for kitchen improvements; and Confluence, an Episcopal Service Corps ministry of St. John’s, Town Street (Columbus), for infrastructure improvements to the house. In 2014 the grants from UTO ranged from $2500 to $124,750, for a total of $1.5 million.
In the Diocese of Southern Ohio, we have an ingathering of all parish UTO offerings in honor of All Saints’ Day (November 1) each year. Milicent Eason, our UTO coordinator, receives all of the UTO checks from congregations and passes them on to the church wide United Thank Offering office. All of the funds received are distributed to dioceses throughout the Anglican Communion for mission work.
This year at our convention Eucharist, in addition to the bread, wine and convention offering, we also will bless the United Thank Offering gifts received by that time. These offerings improve the quality of life for people throughout the world, at home and abroad. Our change changes lives.