The Christmas Fund for the Veterans of the Cross and the Emergency Fund is a Special Mission Offering of the United Church of Christ that grants us an opportunity to recognize and honor those who have served and continue to serve in lay and authorized ministries of the United Church of Christ. During 2013, you provided gifts totaling $1,545,076 – an increase of about $80,000 over the 2012 Offering. Thank You! Our goal for the 2014 Offering is to raise $1,700,000 for the vital ministries of Pension Supplementation, Health Premium Supplementation, Emergency Grants, and Christmas “Thank You” Gift Checks. St. John’s United Church of Christ will accept your donations to the Christmas Fund through the end of the month of December 2014. One of the unique aspects of the Christmas Fund is that the funds provide direct financial assistance to individual UCC clergy and lay church employees – the funds do not support programs or institutions, but people, like Rev. Marjorie Peters (Pseudonym):
Rev. Marjorie Peters was 55 years old when she entered seminary. Her original goal had been to go to medical school. “In those days there weren’t grants and loans like today. I spent 29 years working in four hospitals doing medical research,” she says. “When I lost my job, I was under a great deal of stress. My husband was terminally ill. I didn’t know what I was going to do.” Her pastor suggested that she attend a job-training workshop. “At one point, we were asked what we wanted to do. I don’t know where it came from but when it was my turn I said, ‘I want to go to seminary for Christian ministry,’” she says. “The more I said, ‘No,’ the more God said, ‘Yes.’” It wasn’t until Rev. Peters began collecting her Social Security that she was able to pay off her educational debt.
She was ordained in 1990 at the age of 58. While she was interested in serving only small churches in New England, over the years she also served the Maine Conference on the Commission for Witness Life, and promoted Our Church’s Wider Mission (OCWM), helping explain its importance and encouraging increased giving. She also served as an elected leader on Association and Conference levels, and on the Church and Ministry Committee. She has been a Sunday School Superintendent, and in retirement, serves as Clerk and Church Secretary in her local congregation.
Rev. Peters was a Congregationalist at the time of the 1957 merger that birthed the United Church of Christ. “I like to tell people that while the UCC was in gestation, I was in gestation as well, since I was pregnant with my second child,” she says. “When the merger…was being discussed, my husband was not in favor of it. I ultimately convinced him otherwise.”
The pension supplementation Rev. Peters receives “has been an absolute God-send! It made a big difference,” she says. “I emphasize to my congregation the importance of the Christmas Fund, that it not only helps retirees but active persons as well. I like giving Mission Moment talks to encourage giving generously to the Offering.” The grandmother of four and great-grandmother of six retired in 2003, and continues to provide supply preaching.