Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Matthew 9:35-38 (NIV)
The Yellowstone Conference of The United Methodist Church proved that 2017 was the year that grassroots United Methodists responded prayerfully and faithfully to its financial situation. Following a report at its 2017 Annual Conference in Billings in June, a special Harvest Time Legacy fund and team were established to raise $100,000 and alleviate Yellowstone’s budget shortfall. Even before the end of the three-day annual conference session, attendees had pledged nearly $40,000 in gifts and actual donations toward the Harvest Time Legacy fund.
Six months of reaching out to churches and partners in the United Methodist connection, and the $100,000 goal was surpassed! The year-end total raised by the Harvest Time Legacy campaign was $103,000. The generosity of donors enabled the Yellowstone Conference to not only close the gap, but for the first time in many years pay general church apportionments at 100 percent.
Numerous individuals gave significant gifts to the Harvest Time fund, as well as various groups, churches and organizations. Two of Yellowstone’s smallest congregations – Hyattville United Methodist Church in Wyoming and Troy UMC in Montana – made considerable donations.
Pastor Karen Disney, of Troy UMC, said the church has a long history of giving in its community, awarding grants twice a year. “When Troy was struggling years ago, the conference stepped in to help,” she said. “So we wanted to return the favor as we were able.” And able they were – $10,000! Disney said it was important for Troy UMC to continue being part of the Yellowstone Conference, especially since it’s one of the few churches in western Montana that was started by Brother Van, who brought Methodism to Montana. His favorite song was “Harvest Time,” of which the campaign is named after.
The strong response to the call from the Yellowstone Conference affirmed the commitment and connection to The United Methodist Church.