Upholding a 33 year tradition, the Asbury United Methodist Church in Webster City took part in the Methodist Church's annual statewide Thanksgiving Ingathering recently with the Iowa churches raising over $1 million for the Iowa-Nigeria Program.
The annual Thanksgiving Ingathering has been held the first Saturday of November for the past 33 years, said co-organizer Cathi Griswold. The event raises money and supplies for the mission in Nigeria that is supported by all of Iowa's Methodist churches.
The combined Iowa total was $1.014 million, said Griswold, who noted it was the third year that Iowa's Methodist churches have raised over $1 million for the event.
According to co-organizer of the Asbury event, Nicole Chamness, the Webster City site included 87 area churches that raised a total of $135,861.
At five sites across the state, Methodist church members gathered to pack six types of kits which are sent to Nigeria and to sites in Louisiana, said Griswold.
The different kits serve different needs, said Griswold. The variety of kits include: school kits equipped with pencils, rulers and notebooks; birthing kits for birth and delivery; dorm kits; flood buckets for emergency operations; and seminary books.
Eighty-seven Methodist churches came together at the Webster City church with 50 youth and 30 adults volunteering, said Griswold.
The event actually began on Friday evening when the 50 middle, high
school and college age youth gathered for an overnight lock-in beginning at 6 p.m., said Griswold.
Then on Saturday morning, they were joined by the adult volunteers who worked side-by-side to sort, assemble and pack the kits. Throughout the day, a luncheon was served for participants and visitors. A quilt auction was also held with all proceeds donated to the kit project, said Griswold.
The Webster City site's 600 boxes were loaded into two semi-trailers with 100 of those destined for Nigeria, said Griswold. The event concluded around 2 p.m., said Griswold.
In addition to the kit program, Methodist churches sponsor additional programs overseas, explained Griswold.
One such program is Heifer International which funds the purchase of animals such as cows, pigs, ducks, geese or honey bees. Each Nigerian recipient is then trained in animal management. Nigerians in the program receive an animal with the understanding that when the first female animal
is born, it will be given freely to another person.
"That way, it is a gift that keeps on giving," explained Griswold.
The programs are part of the overall mission of the Methodist Church, explained Nicole Chamness.
"We gather to take part in feeding and providing care for people around the world," she said.