When thinking about how to change the world, we tend to imagine large-scale relief efforts. We think of millions of dollars, resources or volunteers. In reality, worldwide change happens within our local communities’ efforts to spread love, peace and joy to our neighbors. On Human Relations Day, we celebrate the ways in which communities around the world are being the hands and feet of Christ. Human Relations Day is one of six Sundays that United Methodists set aside to support and celebrate specific ministries. We join other UMC congregations in a special offering to support neighborhood ministries through Community Developers, United Methodist Voluntary Services, and Youth Offender Rehabilitation Programs.
The Community Developers Program is a network of racial-ethnic UM congregations and communities throughout the United States committed to being in mission with the communities in which they are located. Churches within the network are focusing on work such as education, housing and homelessness, immigration and racial equity.
Youth Offender Rehabilitation Programs promote ministries that respond to nonviolent young offenders through advocacy and community engagement. The program supports services such as reconciliation with families, training, organizing support and development within the community and programs for reentry initiatives after incarceration.
The United Methodist Voluntary Services seeks to be in relationship with community groups and organizations that work with “the least of these.” It addresses unjust political, social and economic systems that continue to drain the energy and resources of those in poverty.
When you give to the Human Relations Day offering, you support ministries like the South Los Angeles Mission Centers, which recently launched a Community Computer Lab at Saint Mark LA UMC.
The Community Computer Lab provides space for distance learning, internet access, senior assistance, resume building, employment application, government/public benefits, school assignments, copying, faxing, scanning, housing search and medical care needs.
Volunteers offer a welcoming, clean, peaceful environment for all who enter, and even those for whom it is hard to enter. For example, a senior visited the community computer lab in need of photocopies. When she arrived at the site she phoned to ask if someone could come out to her car, get the document and make five copies. After all was done, she suggested the lab could offer a curbside copying service.
In a neighborhood with limited economic resources, the community computer lab is providing a space for people of all ages to access technological tools while creating a sense of community and hospitality. Program leadership is thankful for how God is working through them to provide services and remove obstacles, allowing the community to thrive.
The United Methodist Church, the world and our communities are still recovering from the ongoing global trauma of the COVID pandemic, the impact of a tumultuous political climate in the US and the anxiety of a looming denominational separation. Now, perhaps more than ever, we are called to be part of restoring God’s promises. Through our gifts and support, we are invited to partner with God to provide healing and hope to the world.
On January 15, 2023, join us and contribute your spiritual and financial gifts to build up and restore what the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. called “the beloved community.” Give through your local church or online at umc.org/SSGive. Make checks payable to your local church and write “Human Relations Day offering” in the memo line.