It’s Raining Gift Cards
The spouses of UMC clergy delivered love, in the form of thousands of gift cards, to other UMC clergy spouses who have been impacted by Hurricane Harvey’s widespread flooding.
Along the Texas Gulf Coast it’s raining again, but this time it’s raining gift cards.
When word spread that approximately 30 clergy in the Texas Annual Conference were personally dealing with water in their homes, dozens of other clergy spouses flew into action.
The annual Texas Conference Clergy Spouse Association (TCCSA) retreat in September became gift card headquarters when attendees arrived with piles of gift cards from their home churches. Even friends, and friends of friends, contributed to the cause.
Hugs and Hope
In addition to the blessing of the gift cards, the association encouraged the recently flooded clergy spouses to attend the annual retreat on full scholarship as a brief escape from their recovery efforts, and a place to receive hugs and hope. Sharon Mooney, wife of Rev. John Mooney of First UMC Vidor accepted the scholarship and attended the retreat for the first time. “I felt guilty leaving town but the retreat was exactly what I needed to get stronger for my family,” says Sharon. “Since this is our first appointment, I loved spending time with more seasoned clergy spouses, and I have been incredibly blessed to receive the gift cards as well!”
As the list of flooded clergy increased into the double digits, card care coordinators Susan Brannen, Jill Krone, Dulce Cadar and Kay Peschke turned to social media to publicize the gift card campaign. They were stunned to see what happened next. Donations began pouring in from both inside and outside the conference. When the card care coordinators emptied the collection box after the retreat, it took more than two hours to tally the totals.
The backstories of card donors, shared through the private Facebook page, were equally as touching. Friends and former congregants, living as far away as Minnesota, Indiana and California heard of the need, and wanted to help. Time and again, donors gave sacrificially, including a 90-year-old retired clergy spouse and her 90-year-old neighbor who gave from their own limited budgets.
The historic catastrophe inspired one clergy spouse to use a $500 gift honoring her late husband to assist other spouses rebuild their homes.
“Personally delivering $1000 in gift cards and $200 in cash to each of the flooded clergy is something I will never forget,” says Susan. She was particularly blessed to meet ad help Rev. James and Gwendolyn Berry of Shaw Tabernacle, whose home and church flooded. The flooding has turned the neighborhood surrounding the church into a ghost town. Since Shaw Tabernacle is a small church, Rev. and Mrs. Berry were unaware that anyone even knew of their devastating need. When Susan arrived with their gift package in hand, they were overwhelmed with gratitude.
This care campaign was quite a faith builder for givers and recipients. "God illustrated the fishes and loaves story in a mighty way by more than tripling our goal,” shares card coordinator Kay Peschke, spouse of Rev. Michael Peschke, FUMC Port Neches. “As current totals surpass $35,000, we are all truly astounded at this blessing."
The clergy unaffected by the flooding know the recovery process for their fellow clergy will take years. That is why they are committed to keep extending a helping hand as long as it takes. Clergy who would like ongoing encouragement throughout the long recovery process can contact Jill (firstname.lastname@example.org) to be matched with a willing listener.