Elsa was beside herself with hope and anxiety when she called about her daughter, Valentina, a college student in computer science. Following a court ruling that reinstated DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), Valentina could apply for limited legal protection that would allow her to build a future. But the family couldn’t pay the $495 application fee plus a lawyer’s fee to file the paperwork. Trained U-Lead volunteers helped Valentina fill out the application, at no charge, and Oconee Street UMC paid the $495 to the Department of Homeland Security. After years of living in fear, Elsa knew her daughter would now have protection from deportation, and could get a work permit and a driver’s license.
The money for Valentina’s and five other DACA applications came from the church’s Missions Committee’s Special Designated Missions Fund.
While the church designates around $8000 a year for missions from general funds (the money you put into the virtual offering plate), funding for larger social justice initiatives and money to help people through a particular crisis comes from the Special Designated Missions Fund. This fund began with a sizable donation by a church member to further the social justice work of OSUMC. The Missions Committee stewards this fund through gathering information, committee deliberation, and prayerful discernment in order to make high impact, lasting changes by investing in people and projects. While a donation STARTED the fund, your donations will keep it running into the future.
This work is rooted in the relationships the church has throughout our community and our belief that connecting the money entrusted to us with the people Christ calls us to walk alongside will build a more just world.
Putting Our Money Where Our Mouth Is
The SDMF has allowed us to contribute to racial, immigrant, economic, LGBTQ+, and global justice, including:
- $500/month to Support for Immigrant Families in Crisis
- The Athens Land Trust in support of Black-owned business start-ups
- Broderick Flanigan’s Enlightened Media Productions: “Inspiring Action to Bring Justice” http://www.enlightenedmediaproductions.com/
- DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) renewal fees
- Our Daily Bread
- Economic and housing stability partnerships as reported on in the last newsletter
- A financial emergency fund for OSUMC members and others in our network
- Reconciling Ministries Network
- Multiple projects of the Racial Justice Task Force
- Donations to local social service organizations including the Ark, East Athens Development Corporation, and others
- And the most recent allocation to the Bail Fund Initiative, which you’ll be hearing more about in future newsletters.
We hope to continue the work we are doing, and to expand it as we identify opportunities. For this, we’ll need funding to, for example, ensure adequate scholarships for our youth and adults to participate in mission trips to Honduras, to provide emergency funds for members of the extended church family who are experiencing financial hardships, and to make sure that young people like Valentina can apply for DACA. If you are passionate about the social justice work of OSUMC, you can contribute to the Special Designated Missions Fund by indicating this as an additional gift to SDMF on your check, paypal comment, or however you donate to the church.
OSUMC Missions Committee, Sean Beckwith, Chair firstname.lastname@example.org