Paying it Forward with Golden Cross Ministry Donations

Date Posted: 3/27/2014

Many of the recipients of Golden Cross ‘grants’ – who are helped with medical expenses– return the blessing with health updates and donations to provide aid to  the next individual or family in need.

When little Peyton Vasquez was diagnosed with cancer in 2010, his parents were devastated emotionally and financially as they approached an uncertain future with their son. Their pastor, Reverend Steve Woody of First UMC, Pasadena recommended the TAC Golden Cross Ministry  to provide the Vasquez family with money to help with one of his medical bills. Since 1921, this special ministry has assisted United Methodists who have little or no financial resources for a particular medical need. The program is funded by donations which can be provided for any age, but this story provides a new twist to the conference priority of “Investing in the Young.”

Peyton’s story has a happy ending now that he has been deemed cancer –free, and it is a story that blessed many along the way. First UMC Worship Arts Director Nicole Gray was excited to be a big part of Peyton’s story. “Our church, and Peyton’s family is so grateful for the time and money that was given to him in his battle with cancer,” she says. “His mom, Jodi, came to us in November asking if we would publicize a fundraiser for Golden Cross as a ‘pay it forward’ act,” says Nicole. “That gave me the idea to dedicate our Christmas production proceeds to this cause, in honor of Peyton. We were able to donate $1,300 in his honor so that someone else can receive help someday.”

“I can think of few ministries that our conference offers that have had a bigger impact on my family and me than the Golden Cross Ministry,” says Rev. Jack McMahon of First UMC, Groveton. “When I was first getting started as a local pastor, I was direly in need of dental work that I could not afford.  I was directed to Golden Cross and they assisted in getting my dental issues resolved.  Since that initial occasion, I have encouraged every church I’ve been blessed to serve to support the Golden Cross ministry.”
 
In 2008, his youngest son, Kyle, was in need of considerable reconstructive surgery on his jaw to prepare for 17 implants.  Adds Jack, “If it were not for Golden Cross, we would not have been able to afford the orthodontist's initial fees to get what few teeth he had in the proper position for the implants.”  

He says that, along the way, Golden Cross has stepped in and assisted various members of his churches who have had difficulties with medical expenses and other issues. “It is my firm belief that the Texas Annual Conference would not have nearly the outreach and effectiveness in the disadvantaged areas of our conference if it were not for the Golden Cross ministry. I will forever be indebted to these outstanding people and ministry.”

Another church that regularly supports Golden Cross is Maud UMC. “As a pastor for over 13 years now,” says Rev. Ross Hyde, “I have seen my share of people struggle with medical costs as a result of illness or accidents. I, myself, have faced that struggle.  The Golden Cross Ministry often allows people to gain a bit more control of a particular expense while maintaining their dignity. If it was not for the Golden Cross, I do not know what some would do when it comes to medical expenses. My current congregation has pledged as a part of the budget to honor all special Sundays designated by General Conference and Annual Conference alike, with Golden Cross being one of them.  We are challenging all other churches to do the same, even if it is only a quarter per member. Everything counts when someone is in need.”
 
During 2013, churches and individuals contributed $33,510 for Golden Cross to disperse when individuals need assistance. “We’ve helped with as little as $200, and as much as $3,000 depending on donations and circumstances,” says Shirley Broome of the TAC Missional Excellence Center that coordinates Golden Cross. “Much of what we do is request reduced fees and deductibles. Over and over, when we contact doctors’ offices to say we will make a payment for an applicant’s medical expense, they are always amazed that the United Methodists Church has a ministry like this.” Special thanks go to the Board of Pensions for donating $5,000 in late 2013 and other donors for helping Golden Cross ‘pay it forward’ to those in need.
 
Donations should be made payable to Golden Cross Ministry and sent directly to Shirley Broome at
5215 Main St., Houston, TX  77002.