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 9:37-38 New International Version (NIV)
United Methodists rallied to support the Yellowstone Conference following their annual meeting last year. A report outlining the budget shortfall caused an immediate outpouring of support from delegates and local churches. Through the work of a special committee, and the support of the Bishop and her Cabinet, the Harvest Time Legacy Campaign was established. By 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 Campaign.
The new Harvest Time Campaign set a goal of $100,000 for gifts to the Conference in 2017, and when it was completed, the campaign surpassed their goal by more than $3,000. In fact, several individual donors and ministries of the Church from outside the Yellowstone Conference gave as well. The generosity of individual donors and Foundations not only closed the gap on the budget deficit, but for the first time in many years, it allowed the Conference to pay general church apportionments at 100 percent.
The real heroes of this story are local churches throughout the Yellowstone Conference who gave well beyond their Mission Shares to assist the entire Conference in its time of need.
Congregations like Hyattville United Methodist Church in Wyoming and Troy UMC in Montana made considerable donations to the Harvest Time Campaign. There were many other examples like these, and it demonstrate the feeling of connection that exists between the local churches of the Yellowstone Conference who are separated by vast distances but close in spirit.
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.” Disney said it was important for Troy UMC to support the Conference, especially since its one of the few churches in western Montana that was started by Rev. William Wesley Van Orsdel or “Brother Van” as he was called. He was a hero to the early movement of the Methodist Church into Montana in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.
Brother Van’s favorite song was “Harvest Time,” and it was appropriate to name this Campaign in his honor. The churches of the Yellowstone Conference are truly living by the example of Brother Van, and their commitment in 2017 affirmed their commitment and connection to The United Methodist Church.