Love Gift Yesterday
Love Gift giving began in 1932. During the Great Depression, American Baptist Churches faced a half-million-dollar deficit. Fearing that the financial crisis would curtail God’s work, the Board of Missionary Cooperation (now World Mission Support) asked individuals to give financial contributions in excess of their tithes and pledges. The Committee on Conference (later named the National Committee on Women’s Work) challenged women to raise $150,000 to help meet the crisis. Receiving the challenge, women began the over-and-above contribution called Love Gift.
From the very beginning, women collected these gifts in small boxes. The first were called Silver Boxes, illustrating that beneath every cloud there exists a silver lining. The silver placed in these boxes would help dispel the clouds of financial difficulty that seemed to overshadow the mission. Subsequently, the boxes were called Mite or Might Boxes. Printed on these boxes were the words: “If we know we pray; if we pray we give.”
Later, the boxes were designed to complement the title of the women’s annual program theme. The 1941 theme was “Love,” thus the boxes became known as Love Gift boxes. American Baptist women contribute over $3million annually to American Baptist mission through various programs such as Refit, White Cross, region mission projects, and Love Gift. Love Gift is a significant part of this giving.
From the beginning, American Baptist women wanted their Love Gifts to be used to support the total mission program of American Baptist Churches USA. In keeping with this early decision, Love Gift money is a part of United Mission, the basic funding source for American Baptist mission. As such, Love Gift supports the full range of American Baptist mission.
“Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in very good work” 2 Corinthians 9:7-8 NRSV
Love Gift Today
Love Gift is a financial contribution over and above our regular giving. It is given out of a sense of LOVE, FAITH, and GRATITUDE to God for all of God’s blessings, and in recognition of our need to share these blessings with others. One way to express our faith is by giving. We give of our time, our talent, our money, and ourselves. As our faith grows, we realize that our God, in whom we trust, really loves and cares for us. As a result, our desire to give grows, too. Love Gift is one of the ways we express our faith and love. It is an offering to God.
Take time to assess what you offer to God. How do you love God? Count the ways. Let your Love Gift offering reflect your love for God and Christ’s Church and its ministries.
Less than 50 percent of American Baptist churches currently participate in Love Gift. Does your church support Love Gift? American Baptist mission need your support!
Here are some ideas from American Baptist women who successfully raise Love Gift:
- Receive a Love Gift offering at every women’s ministry meeting or event.
- Place Love Gift boxes on the tables at conferences, board meetings, and association events.
- Keep a large jar in back of the church for “Pennies from Heaven for Love Gift” (One congregation doing this yielded $40-$50 monthly).
- Set goals.
- Involve the entire church by sponsoring an annual Love Gift activity such as a Love Gift Tea, International Tea, American Baptist Women’s Ministries Sunday, Everybody’s Birthday Party, or a Love Gift Luncheon.
- Give each family a packet to learn about Love Gift. Include items such as the Love Gift Box, the Love Gift brochure, and the website address for American Baptist missions.
- Every 5th Sunday receive a Love Gift offering during the morning worship service.
- Give incentives for reaching the Love Gift goal your church sets.
Love Gift Tomorrow
Love Gift has great potential to empower American Baptist mission in this new century. If your church does not have organized women’s ministries, you can still participate in Love Gift! Meet with your Region’s Minister of Mission Support to discuss and plan your Love Gift promotion. Include your pastors in the plan. Involve church families. Order free Love Gift materials (call 1-800-4-JUDSON or visit www.abwministries.org/store). Plan a first-time Love Gift event this year and build on it next year. Set a congregational goal for Love Gift. Share your church’s plan with other American Baptists at workshops, annual meetings, Fall & Spring Rallies, ABW Ministries Conferences, etc.
The story of Love Gift remains unfinished. By giving to Love Gift, American Baptists play a vital role in the continuing work of American Baptist Churches at home and abroad. And the best is yet to come!
…(adapted with permission from Unlimited Ideas for Love Gift II, article on page 1 by Mary Beckwith.)