Pleasant Grove UMC Turns 2020 Surplus of Funds into 2021 'Mercy Drops'
Rev. Chris Mullis shares about Operation Mercy Drops in a video found at https://youtu.be/FbjNnPuIBrs.
When COVID-19 began, Pleasant Grove UMC in Dalton worried how the church would manage through the crisis. Yet, God provided through the generosity of members, and the church ended 2020 with a surplus of funds. After several capital improvements and establishing an emergency fund, there was still a surplus.
That's when Rev. Chris Mullis asked, "Why not give this back to our community?"
With grateful hearts, church leaders and the congregation saw an opportunity to make a practical impact by showering God's blessings on at least 12 recipients over the next year. They would call this ministry "Operation Mercy Drops."
What is Operation Mercy Drops?
Operation Mercy Drops has a goal of distributing $12,000 over 12 months, with an ultimate goal of awarding $1000 in grants per month. Operation Mercy Drops grants are designed to be extravagant, unexpected gifts of God's mercy and love.
People who need the most help most often never ask, therefore the church is relying on its members to sponsor potential candidates for the grants. People may not request a grant for themselves. Candidates must be sponsored by a PGUMC member.
Types of Grants
They established three categories for grants. Those that recognize:
- Special people in the community
- Local organizations with a mission to serve the community
- Persons or families with hardships due to medical emergencies, disaster, job loss, economic downturn, etc.
A 4-person committee of lay members reviews the proposals from members and determines the appropriate amount and the best way to award the grant.
How It's Going
"One thing I have learned through this process was to have faith," said Rev. Mullis. "We began thinking of this idea near the end of 2020 as we saw the surplus in our budget. Of course, with so much uncertainty with the economy and the pandemic, there was a great reluctance to do something new or to stretch ourselves financially. Part of the thinking was that we need to horde up all the surplus in case things get really bad and then we will have the savings as a cushion. We did plan wisely and God was faithful. We were able to do establish an emergency fund and also fill out our operation fund properly."
Rev. Mullis shared about the two most recent grant recipients.
"Our July OMD recipient was a $1,000 merit grant to honor Myra Smith, an elderly lady in our community who hand sews blankets for children and mothers enrolled in the Healthy Families program in Dalton," he said. "Myra has provided this service for 2 decades and is an unsung hero of our community.
Church member Rita Wagers helped surprise Myra with the OMD check and reported, "I felt the love from our church as Ms Myra looked at me with those big eyes wide open and said 'What?' She told me nobody had ever done that for her and now she could buy material without her daughter and family saying she was spending too much money. She lives by herself and sewing for others is her passion."
The August recipient received a $1,000 hardship grant. This elderly community member lives on social security and also provides a place to live for her daughter and 2 grandsons, both of whom have disabilities. Their finances are always tight and have been impacted further by unemployment and illness, including COVID.
"Judy Forester, a member of our church, sponsored this hardship grant," said Mullis. "Our congregation also came to the altar during worship to write encouraging notes to the recipient that were delivered with the $1,000 check."
Judy shared that when she delivered the check the recipient was overcome with emotion and thankfulness.
"Another thing I learned is how rewarding it is for the members to be the ones doing the giving," said Mullis. "OMD is run by a committee of 4 lay people. They have the honor and responsibility of evaluating the candidates. It is rewarding for them to be able to bless people. Also, the sponsors are members from the church who get the opportunity to have personal contact with the people receiving grants. They find it extremely meaningful to be the hands feet of Christ."
Learn more about Operation Mercy Drops at https://pleasantgrove.cc/omd.