UTO in your Parish
Encourage, Teach, Celebrate.
A Guide for Parish Coordinators
Parish Coordinators/Organizers are the foundation of the United Thank Offering; without you, we could not invite and connect people with the ministry of the United Thank Offering nor encourage and build up personal spiritual disciplines around gratitude. The work of a Parish Coordinator could best be summed up as Encourage, Teach, and Celebrate. Below you will find tips and tricks for your role encouraging, teaching, and celebrating as well as steps to hosting a Parish Ingathering.
Encourage each person in the congregation to adopt a personal practice of grateful living, through the example of your own practice, by sharing stories of grateful living, and by giving.
- Learn the UTO story and share it. We’ve got a webpage, brochure, and videos to help you.
- Find ways to infuse gratitude into your congregational life. Invite those gathered at church meetings to share one thing they are grateful for prior to beginning the meeting and then share one word about what they are grateful for from the meeting as a way to close.
- Speak to your leadership about utilizing free UTO resources (from stewardship programs to faith formation) to incorporate gratitude practices throughout the ministries of your congregation. People love to be thanked, and UTO has resources to help you do just that.
Teach that daily prayers of thanksgiving improve life and health and are a way to fulfill our baptismal covenant. Through gratitude we learn to serve Christ in all persons, love our neighbor as ourselves, and strive for justice and peace among all people.
- Order free printed materials from our distribution center and share with your congregation or download them in English or Spanish and print locally.
- Share UTO Videos! Seeing the actual ministry in action and hearing the stories can be very powerful. We also now offer a series of videos that talk about gratitude in depth.
- Write about gratitude in your e-newsletter or bulletins. You can use articles from the UTO ENewsletter, the Coordinators Newsletter, or some of our available sample items.
- Introduce UTO to children through children’s sermons, Sunday School, Godly Play, and our Illustrated Ministries resources.
- Use our website kit – to help promote UTO on your website or on social media.
Celebrate all the blessings of the parish by working with the leadership on establishing an all parish “grateful giving day”/ingathering and by making sure that gratitude is a part of the life of the congregation.
- With your rector, establish a yearly day of gratitude for the parish to celebrate as a congregation. This could be a “party” with liturgy, food, and fellowship. This is the day that ingathering/grateful giving is counted/recognized.
- Because people want to know where the money goes, create a display with information on grants awarded each year or have the grant brochure and videos available.
- Help your congregation to see practicing gratitude as a part of your community ethos. These public celebrations of gratitude are a great way to model how to practice gratitude at home, work, school or simply in the community.
When planning your Parish Ingathering, we suggest considering the following four steps, but please remember no one knows your parish better than you! Use these steps to adapt a Parish Ingathering that works in your context.
1. Coordinate the Ingathering date well in advance so you can plan out your year, or better yet, have it as an annual occurrence that people look forward to. The most important part of the Ingathering is teaching about giving in gratitude, then gathering the Blue Boxes and envelopes together. A UTO Sunday should be held on a date that works for your congregation. Some churches do UTO in Lent, others in November, using the free materials created by UTO for individuals, small groups, and families.
2. Plan a special worship service, coffee hour or other event for the Ingathering date.
- Use the Liturgy Booklet to connect UTO and a theology of thankfulness to the experience of worship. This helps make the Ingathering special.
- Make sure to have UTO resources readily available, from Blue Boxes to brochures.
- Include online donation options so people can donate online with a credit card. Text INGATHER to 41444 to use the text to give option, or download a QR code for the bulletin to facilitate online giving. You can print the “I gave online” card so that those who gave online can still participate in the Ingathering.
3. Working alongside the systems within your parish for handling donations, process the Ingathering funds.
- Combine monies received from Blue Boxes and envelopes utilizing the accounting procedures of your congregation. It is not your job to count the money! See the Best Financial Practices page in the handbook for more information.
2. Respond with Gratitude
- Thank people for participating! Write a thank you note in the parish newsletter and say something at the announcements. Tell them how much you raised and share something like, “If every nickel we collected represented one blessing we experienced in the last year, this congregation experienced a total of 100,000 blessings!” Remember, thankfulness generates thankfulness.
- If you would like individuals to receive a thank you card for participating (and for tax purposes), please email a list to firstname.lastname@example.org so she can send the cards for you.