Episcopal Diocese of Virginia
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2014 End of Year Report

December 30, 2014 

The United Thank Offering Mission:  Put gifts into the Blue Box with thanksgiving, prayer and generosity. Take blessings out of the box for grants to expand the church's faithfulness to God's mission.

It has been a great privilege to serve as the UTO Diocesan Coordinator for the past three years.  I am deeply indebted to the Parish Coordinators, parish administrators, business managers, ECW officers and Bishop Shannon and the diocesan staff, especially Mary Anne Bryant and Buck Blanchard in the Office of Mission and Outreach, for all the support I have received and that the UTO ministry has received. The United Thank Offering is a ministry of the whole Church, and it requires a team approach.

 In January, I attended the 2014 Council in Richmond, Virginia.  With the help of Ed Jones, the Diocesan Secretary and Chief of Staff, we raised $1,027.71. That amount was forwarded to DFMS with the spring ingatherings.

The UTO grant applications were made available on January 3, 2014 by DFMS and the UTO Board. I notified all Parish Coordinators of the timeline for submitting grant applications and sent the instructions for the grant application process.

On February 18, 2014, I convened the Grants Review Committee at Mayo House. The Diocese of Virginia/UTO committee members are chosen from clergy, lay leaders, past diocesan UTO coordinators and past ECW presidents.  Twelve members served on the 2014 committee  to review and select the grants that best met the UTO criteria, and those grants were sent to Bishop Shannon Johnston for his review, final selection and approval. Each applicant was invited to present the grant application to the committee.  Three grant applications were presented. The  Bishop of the Diocese of Virginia may send forward one  request from our diocese and one international request, in partnership with a companion diocese. Two grants were selected and submitted by the Bishop.  Both were subsequently funded by DFMS and the UTO Board and the recipients received the awards in July and were presented with a certificate of the award at the Fall ECW Meeting at All Saints Church in Richmond.

Pastor Cass Bailey, Trinity Church, Charlottesville, received the diocesan award for "Bread and Roses Ministry of Trinity Church." The award was for $17,000 to provide commercial equipment for the church's kitchen for their food outreach ministry to serve the community. Gardens and classes to address many of the food-related problems, such as obesity and malnutrition which often affect the urban poor, were a part of the program.

The partnership award was with the Diocese of South Sudan. "School Vehicle/Hope and Resurrection Secondary School"  received an award for $49,575 to replace its failing vehicle in order to serve its students and the local communities to the fullest extent.  The school is working successfully to bring love and peace through education in a culture where forgiveness and reconciliation have never been fully embraced.  Jennifer Ernst and her husband from Christ Church in Glen Allen founded the school.

Throughout the year, I was invited to visit ECW groups and parishes to present the UTO story.  This included visits to St. Mary's, Colonial Beach; Aquia, Stafford; St. Margaret's, Woodbridge; St. George's, Fredericksburg; and Grace, Goochland. On March 16, I spoke at the Sunday morning service at Grace. I have also attended the meetings of the ECW Diocesan Board.

Record-keeping is a major part of the job of the Diocesan UTO Coordinator.  I have kept the records of Parish Coordinators and other contacts at the 182 churches around the diocese, provided them with an orientation of duties and responsibilities of the coordinator in their parish, and kept them up to date with information on ordering materials available from the Church Website and the UTO Website. I also forwarded the  UTO Newsletter with sample announcements for Sunday Bulletins as it became available from Dena Lee, Province III Coordinator and UTO Board member.  I have completed the bookkeeping of the ingatherings from every church on Excel Spreadsheet, with a documentation folder for each year. Currently, those records are being audited by Anna Lou Flynn, and a report is being prepared for the years 2012-2014.  I maintain a "pass-through" account with PNC Bank in Fredericksburg, and transfer the amounts from the diocesan  account to DFMS several times a year, where the amounts join with all ingatherings across the country and accrue interest.  The total amount, including every penny that is placed in the Blue Box or envelope, is given in UTO grants each year.

From August to November, several Webinars were presented  by the Reverend Heather Melton at DFMS and the UTO Board.  I have participated in all Webinars, which included sharing ideas and procedures from Diocesan Coordinators across the country.  Some of the topics included "Best Financial Practices in UTO," "How to Host a Workshop," and "The UTO Grant Application Process."  The board asked for the process used in the Diocese of Virginia, and in collaboration with Mary Anne Bryant in the Office of Mission and Outreach, we sent a copy outlining our procedures.

All coordinators in The Diocese of Virginia received the new information on the changes in the 2015 granting process and timeline as soon as these changes were published.  As in the past, the recipients of the Viva Voce ECW  award also received this information and have been invited to make application for a UTO grant next year.

I have notified the Grants Review Committee that the screening for the 2015 grants will take place on January 20, 2015.

The 125th Anniversary of the UTO is being celebrated and preparations are in progress for the Triennial to be held in Salt Lake City, Utah this summer.

Below is a list of UTO Ingatherings sent to DFMS for the year 2014:

February 4, 2014                                 $19,000.21

June 16,2014                                         25,000.00

August 4,2014                                       10,000.00

November 20, 2014                              15,000.00

December 18, 2014                               19,500.15

December 30, 2014                                 6,000.00


Total                                                    $94,500.36


With Thanksgiving,

Cindy Helton, UTO Diocesan Coordinator

505 Fauquier Street

Fredericksburg, Virginia 22401