Thanksgiving Ingathering

A Brief History

It was a young Director of Church Relations at Westmar College (UMC) who first wondered, “How can we bring the campus and local church together in such a way that each would grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ?” MISSION! That was the key.  And not just one mission, but missions locally, conference-wide and internationally.

Not long after that, Dr. Arthur Richardson was attending a bell choir concert in Cedar Falls, IA when he spotted Bill Applegate also in attendance. Following the concert Richardson approached Applegate (Representative of Heifer Project, International) and asked what he thought of the idea. Together the two worked to transform the dream into reality.


The First Ingathering

The first Bishop’s Ingathering occurred on the campus of Westmar College, Le Mars, Iowa on November 1, 1980. Together with June Goldman, the first Chair of the Ingathering (who served for many years) they watched as cars from arrived from around northwest Iowa bringing kits, blankets, and even animals and corn! UMCOR, Church World Service, Heifer Project, Self-Help Tractor, Iowa Hunger Task Force and Goodwill Industries were the first recipients to receive both cash and gifts-in-kind. Records show that more than 300 clergy and laity attended the event that raised $44,882.

In 1982, the program presented a report to the Program Review for 1982-1984. It was determined that more sites in Iowa to address great distances. A Central Committee was appointed with June Goldman as its Chair. As it was primarily a program of the laity and the Bishop was not always able to attend, it was agreed to link the event to the Board of Laity. At that time the name was then changed to “Thanksgiving Ingathering.”

Dr. Arthur W. Richardson

Dr. Arthur W. Richardson

Soon craft items, “Preacher Pies,” woodcarvings (high value), and quilts were added to the auction. When 1 quilt sold for $1,000 at Westmar, it was a record to be broken. In 1999, another exquisite quilt sold at Greenfield for $3,100!

  • Create a synergy in mission support that Involves more churches in more missions
  • Raise an average of $20,000 per mission
  • Bring missional support into focus on the Local, National and International scenes.
  • Involve and train millennials to be meaningfully active In the ministries of a local church.

Around the venue there began to appear a host of educational videos and displays informing attendees of the missional work of the United Methodist Church. Guest speakers included itinerating missionaries, representatives of the various projects and the founder, Dr. Richardson. College-aged youth arrived for an overnight of fellowship and training to lead the packing and truck-loading tasks the following morning.

EARLY GIVING TOTALS in the IOWA ANNUAL CONFERENCE

YEAR

CASH

GIFTS IN-KIND

TOTAL

1982

$

$

$44,882

2003

$277,000

$559,000

836,000

2004

$356,822

$627,942

$984,764

2005

$433,000

$789,000

$1,220,000

2006

$333,089

$643,058

$976,147

2011

$333,966

$668,628

$1,002,594

2013

$360,044

$670,971

$1,031,102

2015

$

$

$1,043,995

Lest We Forget

This year our theme is, “LEST WE FORGET”...from the witness of our veterans whose sacrifices we honor. This year, the ravage of hurricane Harvey prompts our long term commitment to those who are still recovering and re-building. Recovery, whether from illness or weather disaster, is a long range effort. Perseverance maintains our commitments to minister to the sick or re-build with disaster survivors. This year, we are aware that Liberia (My Heart’s Appeal) is recovering form 15 years of civil war and 2 years of the Ebola outbreak. School was closed and schooling postponed. In Texas, Helping Hands, Kendleton Farms, Ft. Bend Hope and UMCOR have all been engaged in a number of activities of re-storing and re-building.

LEST WE FORGET...” is as good a reminder of our calling to be in ministry as it is of the sacrifices of our veterans. Together with the survivors, let us re-dedicate ourselves to the tasks of recovery that lay before us in these missions.


The Future

Now, in retirement in Richmond, TX, Dr. Richardson is expanding the Thanksgiving Ingathering, a multi-missional event, to the Southwest District of the Texas Annual Conference.  On November 18th, the Ingathering will be held on the campus of Faith United Methodist Church in Richmond, TX.

Inquiries have been received to establish an Ingathering site in annual conferences in Southern Illinois, Baltimore and San Francisco.  For more information, visit the Ingathering website.