By Marlene Neher
Following the aftermath of World War II, members of Ivester Church of the Brethren in Grundy Center, Iowa, began what has become a long tradition--the White Gift Offering. It began as an offering of clothing, bedding, or other household items for people in need. On a designated Sunday in Advent, members of the congregation were invited to bring a gift, wrapped in white, to place under the church Christmas tree during worship. The gifts were then sent to Church World Service for distribution to needy people.
In more recent years, members have been invited to bring a gift of money in a white envelope for one or more selected projects. Projects chosen usually include a local need and a national or an international need, or a ministry arm of the Church of the Brethren.
Two projects were supported this past Christmas: On Earth Peace and relief work for the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria (Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria, or EYN).
On Earth Peace works as an educational arm of the Church of the Brethren to teach nonviolent ways to confront conflicts in schools, churches, and in everyday living. The White Gift Offering this year netted $734 for On Earth Peace.
During the past year the Nigerian church, EYN, has suffered great loss of lives, churches, property, and schools in the brutal attacks by Boko Haram. Many church members are living as refugees and in need of the basics of life--food and shelter. The offering for the Nigerian church amounted to $2,070. This amount is being matched at the denominational level!
The Missions and Outreach Team at Ivester is responsible for planning the White Gift Offering each year. Ron Brunk has been team leader for the Missions and Outreach Team for the past several years and just recently retired from that position. His leadership, devotion, and world-wide view has been appreciated as he has so faithfully served.
-- Written by Marlene Neher and submitted by pastor Katie Shaw Thompson of Ivester Church of the Brethren in Grundy Center, Iowa.