February 19, 2023 – Black College Fund/Transfiguration Sunday

Courtesy photo.
Courtesy photo.

A Moment for Mission

“For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” – 2 Corinthians 4:17-18, NLT

As a child in Charlotte, North Carolina, Marcinia Johnson and her family moved often. This caused great difficulty in her school life. “I just put a smile on my face every day, but nobody knew I was breaking down,” said Johnson. “I didn’t want anyone to know anything because I didn’t want people to judge me or say mean things about me.”

Luckily, Johnson’s church family at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church stepped up and provided her with the stability and love she needed to thrive. Her involvement at the church led her to learn about Bennett College, one of 11 United Methodist-related historically Black universities and colleges supported by the Black College Fund. She applied to the women’s college in Greensboro, North Carolina, and was accepted – something she couldn’t have imagined earlier in her life.

Speaking of her local church’s impact on her life, Johnson commented, “Some reached out; some provided financial support and transportation. They paid for my graduation senior dues. They took care of me – The United Methodist Church. They are my real family.”

Johnson now has a 4.0 GPA. Her goal is to become a defense attorney for those with mental disabilities. She plans to advocate for those who are oppressed and unable to speak for themselves as she once was.  For Johnson, school has been the key to making her dream come true. “It felt so good to go to school and learn,” she said. “I take my education seriously.”

Johnson is a strong believer in the power of education. For her, the financial resources provided by the Black College Fund, administered by The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, makes the biggest difference.

“The Black College Fund shows that there are people willing to help others in situations like [mine],” Johnson said. “No matter what you go through, you can still become successful.”

-Adapted from “Black College Fund Summer Series: Becoming a Voice for the Voiceless,”

GBHEM website. Used by permission.

Children’s Message
We all know life can be hard from time to time. You’ve probably been frustrated when a drawing didn’t turn out right or a family member used something of yours without asking.

Has anyone ever said something mean to you? Have you been really excited about something that didn’t end up happening? (Allow children to answer.)

When these things happen, what are we supposed to do? Thankfully, the Bible gives us great advice. Paul, who was one of Jesus’ strongest followers, wrote about getting back up and continuing, even when things are hard. He made it clear that the things that make us sad or upset right now will only be here for a moment. Instead, we trust that God will do something even better!

Paul said, “So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”

What does that mean? (Allow children to answer.) I think Paul meant that when we’re down and not feeling good, we have to trust in the really powerful things around us, even if we can’t see them! What is something powerful that we can’t see? (Allow children to answer.)

Two possibilities are love and hope. You can’t see them, but you can definitely feel them. So, the next time you’re frustrated or upset, take a minute to remember that you are loved and that God is with you. Don’t give up. You can do it!

Let’s pray: God, thank you for lifting us up when we’re down and helping us to focus on the future. Give us hope and love today so we can keep moving forward. Amen.

Offertory Prayer
God of love and grace, you call us to be a voice for the voiceless and to walk with others in their struggles. Accept these offerings and use them to empower us to see the opportunities around us to do good and share hope. We praise you. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen.

From Discipleship Ministries
Creator God of infinite patience, we see you in every plant that grows and blossoms, every creature that runs or flies, in mountains and sunsets, and in every drop of rain that falls. Creation is not something that happened, but something that is happening every day. As we share our tithes and offerings today, we pray you, through Jesus, will continue the work of creation in us, that we might become more tolerant, more forgiving, more generous and more loving. In that name, Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer, we pray. Amen.

Newsletter Nugget
The United Methodist Church is a connectional church. Our congregation pools our apportioned financial gifts with those from other congregations around the world to make large, long-lasting impacts.

Our giving helps to support seven apportioned funds for the global church. Today, we celebrate the Black College Fund, which offers us a timely reminder about the importance of both education and social justice, especially during February – Black History Month.

The Black College Fund supports the 11 historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) related to The United Methodist Church. They represent the largest number of Black colleges and universities receiving funding from any church body in the United States.

United Methodist congregations like ours have provided almost 90% of the funds apportioned for the Black College Fund since its creation in 1972. These funds are distributed proportionately among the 11 HBCUs, where they enhance and expand program options, maintain critical institutional frameworks and keep tuition costs as low as possible.

Your generosity shows your willingness to put your faith into action. Let’s continue to give to the Black College Fund at 100% and build up new generations of leaders. Thank you for your belief in the power of education!

-Adapted from “Apportioned Funds Spotlight: Black College Fund,” by the General Council on Finance and Administration. Used by permission.

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