A Golden Opportunity to Share the Love of Christ
By: Sherri Gragg
A Weight Lifted
2017 was a difficult year for Kimberly Cook. First her husband lost his job, forcing the family of six to depend on her income as an administrative assistant for Cypress UMC along with a small supplement from unemployment insurance. Then, Cook began suffering from a string of unusual health symptoms including heart failure and persistent abdominal pain. As a year of hospital visits drew to a close, a CAT scan caught a glimpse of something growing in her kidney.
One fateful day in October, as Cook drove home from a visit to an oncologist, she braced herself to tell her husband the devastating news- There was a dangerous mass in her kidney. When she arrived home, her husband met her in the driveway with news of his own. With just weeks until Christmas…his unemployment benefits were exhausted.
How could she tell him that before she could begin treatment she needed a costly biopsy that the hospital would not perform until she was able to make a payment?
Robin Rodrigues, Administrative Assistant to the Clergy of Cypress UMC reached out to Rev. Kimberly Mabry, Project Manager for Golden Cross/Golden Care on Cook’s behalf. Soon, she had miraculous news for the young mother- As a member of the UMC, she was eligible to receive up to $3,000 per year to cover her medical costs.
“It took a huge weight off my shoulders,” Cook said. “I was able to take a deep breath again.”
Golden Cross was established in 1921 in the wake of World War I as medical advances began to burden families with overwhelming health care bills for the first time. Golden Cross created a program through which churches contributed to a fund to help members with their medical bills. With the advent of Medicare and Medicaid, there was less of a demand for Golden Cross but Mabry believes that has changed. “Here we are in 2018, and I honestly feel we have as great a need for this fund as we did in 1921.”
As medical costs soar, any individual who has been a UMC member for at least a year is eligible to receive up to $3,000 per year to cover a wide range of medical expenses from prescriptions to eyeglasses. Once the request, submitted on the Missional Excellence website, has been approved, Golden Cross will issue a check directly to the vendor.
In 2015, through a collaboration with the Texas Conference, Houston Methodist Hospital established Golden Care. The ministry of Golden Care is twofold. While one aspect of the program is designed to encourage and equip churches to formulate a vital health ministry such as health screenings, walking Bible studies, or the Parish nurse program, the other side is targeted at partnering with churches to prevent hospital readmissions for patients who do not have access to necessary resources.
During the month of February, the Texas Conference observes Golden Cross Month. Although many churches have chosen a Communion Service Sunday during February to collect a special Golden Cross offering, there are opportunities for participating in this valuable ministry throughout the year.
Golden Cross and Golden Care harness the power of the connectional system to transform lives. As Cook begins her long road to recovery, she is incredibly thankful for the support of Golden Cross, “I couldn’t have made it through without it,” she said. “It has been a true blessing.”
For more information on how your church can be a part of Golden Care and Golden Cross, please contact Rev. Kimberly Mabry at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are interested in applying for help through Golden Cross, you may do so on the Missional Excellence page of the Texas Conference website. https://www.txcumc.org/goldencross