Sacred Places Summer 2022 - Page 17

Volunteers at Landers Chapel UMC in Lincolnton , North Carolina gathered at the church for a walk during breast cancer awareness month . The value of a church ’ s open space to its community and its contributions to local nonprofits are among the components of its Halo Effect . The Rev . Amy Lambert
Volunteers prepare meals at Gethsemane United Methodist Church , Greensboro . On average , community serving programs contribute $ 109,275 each year to their local communities . The Rev . Sharon T . Lee
There are good reasons for the public sector across North Carolina to take note as well . Rural UMCs are keenly aware of the assets and needs in their communities and are working to provide a “ safety net ” where government benefits do not suffice . They excel at addressing food insecurity and childcare access , in particular .
! Food programming is almost universal among rural UMCs , which operate and host food pantries ; offer regular sit-down meals ; and distribute food to local schoolchildren who are in need of supplementary food for nights and weekends .
! Using education wings that once housed Sunday school programs , some operate and rent ( usually at below market rates ) to early childhood education programs and after-school programs .
When developing programing related to these issues , governments and philanthropic institutions could do more to include congregations . They are trusted community-based institutions with unique insight , they are willing and able to open their doors in partnership with others , and they serve far beyond their membership .
Halo patterns can and should help congregations tell their stories to the larger community . Economic Halo Effect data can be used by a congregation to bolster fundraising efforts ( especially significant capital campaigns and annual stewardship campaigns ), raise the congregation ’ s profile when shared with civic leaders and local press ; and improve congregational morale .
SACRED PLACES • • SUMMER 2022 17