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A Letter to Parish Coordinators

The United Thank Offering
The Diocese of Virginia

February 24, 2015

"Our Change Changes Lives"

Dear Parish Coordinators,

It is time to look forward to spring and the new United Thank Offering granting cycle! Before we move forward, however, let's take a moment to review the work you have done during this past year. I am thankful for your faithful work that supports this ministry of our entire Church: to send grants to projects that help those in compelling need at home and abroad through prayers of thanksgiving and the outward sign of coins in the Blue Box.

Last year, we sent $94,500.36 to the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (DFMS). Earlier this month, another $7,732.54 went forward from late-arriving 2014 fall in-gatherings. The total that went to DFMS was $102,232.90.

The United Thank Offering Grant Review Committee, with support from the DOVA Office of Mission and Outreach, met on January 20, 2015 to review five UTO grant applications. Subsequently, Bishop Shannon endorsed two grant requests for consideration by the UTO Board and The Episcopal Church: "St. Peter's Community Kitchen Expansion" ($14,996.16) and "Vehicle for the Rt. Rev. Wilson Kamani in Ibba Diocese, South Sudan" ($46,290). As you know, each diocese may send one request for a local need and one partnership request for an international need. The UTO Board may announce the grant awards after their meeting in May, or we may hear when the awards are announced at Triennial in Salt Lake City, Utah in late June. I will let you know if our requests were granted as soon as the announcements are made.

Looking ahead to the new granting cycle, it will soon be time for the spring in-gathering. As you recall, in-gatherings to collect the coins of thankfulness and prayers from the Blue Boxes are held twice each year, in spring and fall, the seasons that represent new growth and harvest times. The timeframe following Easter through May and October through November are recommended; however, selecting the best time for your church calendar requires coordination with the clergy. Easter is a good time to announce the upcoming UTO Spring In-gathering in your Sunday Bulletin and in the church communications. I have attached some excerpts from the above mentioned grant applications to show how the "change in the little Blue Box changes lives." I have also attached other information which you may find helpful, including the Remittance Form for the in-gatherings in 2015.

Please take the time to review the materials at your church to see if you need to order Blue Boxes, envelopes, bookmarks, the Coordinator's Resource Guide, or other materials to promote the United Thank Offering. Most of the materials are free, but you will need to pay postage. Order at: http://episcopalmarketplace.org/products/United-Thank-Offering or episcopalchurch.org/uto or call 1-866-937-2772.

Remember that every penny collected from the Blue Boxes is granted. The overhead expenses of UTO are paid through the Memorial and Gift Trust Fund at the National Church, as well as a stipend from the Episcopal Church. The UTO ministry is a collaborative work among the Board, the staff at DFMS, members of the Executive Council, our Bishop Shannon and Buck Blanchard and Mary Anne Bryant in the Office of Mission and Outreach at DOVA, and each and every one of us who make the UTO a part of our lives. It is a ministry of the whole church!

If I can help in any way, please let me know.

With thanksgiving,
Cindy Helton
UTO Diocesan Coordinator