Throughout the year, United Methodist congregations celebrate Special Sundays to illustrate the nature and calling of the church. In some cases, these Special Sundays include offerings designated to support important ministries.
Six churchwide Special Sundays with offerings were approved by General Conference and enable United Methodists around the world to offer refuge in times of disaster, promote peace and justice, provide scholarships and student loans, reach out to the community, teach skills to encourage self-sufficiency and share the love of Jesus Christ with God's people everywhere. Your support is critical to the survival of these important ministries and for sharing God's gifts around the world. Click here to download Pastor's Guide for celebration of the six churchwide Special Sunday offerings.
The six General Conference-approved Special Sundays with offerings are listed below in large red boldface type. An additional six Special Sundays, or time periods, with Virginia Conference-approved offerings are printed in blue bold type. Other times of special recognition approved by the General Church and/or the Virginia Conference are listed in black bold type.
For more information, click on the name of the Special Sunday listed below.
Human Relations Day (Sunday before Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday observance)
January 20, 2013
Human Relations Day is celebrated the Sunday immediately before the observance of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday. However, churches may observe Human Relations Day at anytime of the year. The United Methodist Book of Discipline describes the purpose of Human Relations Day as a call to "the Church to recognize the right of all God's children in realizing their potential as human beings in relationship with each other." This special offering supports social justice programs and work with at-risk youths. Worship resources are available at www.umcgiving.org. For more information, contact the Virginia Conference office of Mission and Global Justice.
Heart Havens Month (Month of February)
One of six Virginia Conference special offerings which provide important and life-giving support for key conference programs, the February observance supports Heart Havens, Inc., a Virginia United Methodist Conference-related agency, providing for the residential needs of adults with intellectual disabilities. In 1993, The United Methodist Church of the Virginia Conference began to study the residential needs of adult individuals with intellectual disabilities in response to a parent’s question: "Where will my child live when I’m gone?” From that moment, Heart Havens grew from a question, to an idea, to a home, to an answer. For more information, visit www.hearthavens.org.
Disability Awareness Sunday (First Sunday in February)
February 3, 2013
Disability Awareness Sunday calls the Church to celebrate the gifts and graces of persons with disabilities and calls the Church and society to full inclusion of persons with disabilities in the community. According to The United Methodist Book of Discipline, Disability Awareness Sunday shall be observed annually on a date determined by the Annual Conference. By resolution of the Virginia Annual Conference, Disability Awareness Sunday is recognized on the first Sunday in February – without a special offering. Worship resources for use anytime throughout the year are available at www.vaumc.org under the “Disabilities” ministry section. For more information, contact the Virginia Conference office of Leadership and Inclusivity.
One Great Hour of Sharing (Fourth Sunday of Lent)
March 10, 2013
This special offering enables the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) to live out its mission to alleviate human suffering. UMCOR is the humanitarian arm of The United Methodist Church. One Great Hour of Sharing gifts underwrite UMCOR’s administrative costs of doing business so that every penny of every gift you make to a specific UMCOR project will be spent on that project — not on administrative costs which are covered by this offering. Worship resources are available at: www.umcgiving.org. For more information, contact the Virginia Conference office of Mission and Global Justice.
Native American Ministries Sunday (Third Sunday of Easter)
April 14, 2013
This special offering provides scholarships and support for Native American Ministries. Fifty percent of this offering remains in the annual conference to develop and strengthen local Native American ministries. Should no such ministries exist within the conference, the offering is remitted in full to the General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA). The funds are then distributed equally between the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry to provide scholarships for American Indians attending the church's schools of theology and the Native American Urban Initiative of the Board of Global Ministries. Worship resources are available at www.umcgiving.org. For more information, contact the Virginia Conference office of Leadership and Inclusivity.
Older Adult Recognition Sunday (First Sunday in May)
May 5, 2013
In April 2008, General Conference adopted legislation inviting congregations to celebrate Older Adult Recognition Day each year during the month of May. The Virginia Conference was well ahead of this legislation when the 2006 Annual Conference agreed to designate the first Sunday in May of each year as Older Adult Recognition Sunday. Through an Older Adult Recognition Sunday, United Methodists are invited to show appreciation and support for older adults who continue to enrich and strengthen our faith communities. This Sunday should also call the church to action in addressing the needs of older adults in the congregation and community. Worship resources (for use anytime throughout the year) are available at www.vaumc.org under the “Older Adult” ministry section. Click here for worship resources from the General Board of Discipleship. For more information, contact the Virginia Conference office of Leadership and Inclusivity.
Rural Life Sunday (First Sunday in May)
May 5, 2013
This special Sunday celebrates the rural heritage of The United Methodist Church and recognizes “the ongoing crisis occurring in rural areas of the nation and the world today.” Emphasis may include honoring persons who have been leaders in the rural church and community, observing Rogation Sunday (a service asking for God's blessing upon the earth and it's crops, traditionally held on the three days prior to the Day of Ascension in the spring), and celebrating and sharing a concern for God's created order. Some resources are provided in the United Methodist Book of Worship. Other resources may be found on the United Methodist Rural Fellowship Web site, www.umrf.org
Heritage Sunday (Sunday on or preceding Aldersgate Day, May 19, 2013)
Heritage Sunday provides an opportunity for reflection on heritage, celebration of where the Church has been, how it understands itself as it shapes us today, and the meaning of Christian conferencing. Heritage Sunday calls the Church to remember the past by committing itself to the continuing call of God. Resources can be found on the Web sites for the General Board of Global Ministries, www.gbgm-umc.org, or the General Commission on Archives and History, www.gcah.org.
Samaritan Fund Offering (Mother’s Day- Father’s Day)
One of the six Virginia Conference special offerings, this offering provides important and life-giving support for the Samaritan Program of Virginia United Methodist Homes, Inc. The Samaritan Fund provides financial assistance to residents who cannot afford the full cost of care. More information can be found on the VUMH Web site, www.vumh.org.
Peace with Justice Sunday (First Sunday after Pentecost)
May 26, 2013
This special offering supports peace and justice ministries in our own Virginia Conference and in the U.S and around the world. These funds are distributed by the General Board of Church and Society. Worship resources are available at www.umcgiving.org. For more information, contact the Virginia Conference office of Mission and Global Justice.
Virginia Annual Conference Offering
Each year members of local churches are encouraged to raise money for mission projects designated by the bishop. These generally include a local Virginia United Methodist ministry, a national United Methodist ministry and a global ministry partner. The monetary goal for the offering is set by the bishop. Interpretive materials to help inform congregations about the offering are made available on the conference Web site in the early spring prior to Annual Conference. The pastor or lay representative of each church takes the money raised to the Annual Conference session where it is collected during a special time of the session.
National Hunger Awareness Day (Any Sunday in June)
National Hunger Awareness Day is an effort to raise awareness of and donations to help end hunger in America. This day serves as a platform for domestic hunger-relief organizations to raise awareness about hunger in America and the work being done. The United Methodist Committee on Relief’s (UMCOR) Hunger/Poverty office provides resources. You can also find information at www.hungeractionmonth.org.
Children’s Day (Second Sunday in June)
June 9, 2013
The World Conference for the Well-being of Children proclaimed June 1 to be International Children's Day in 1925. Our United Methodist connection to the celebration dates to the Methodist Episcopal Church Conference of 1868 which recommended that the second Sunday in June be annually observed as Children’s Day. Recognition of this day is set aside to give faith, hope, love and commitment to our children. Promotional materials can be found on the Web site for National Children’s Day at www.nationalchildrensday.us.
Christian Education Sunday (Any Sunday in September)
One of the six Annual Conference special offerings which provide important and life-giving support for key conference programs, Christian Education Sunday “calls the Church as the people of God to be open to growth and learning as disciples of Jesus Christ.” Christian Education Week is authorized by General Conference, and its observance is set by each annual conference. In the Virginia Conference, the month of September is traditionally observed as Christian Education Month. When the local churches remit this offering to the Conference Treasurer, one half of the collected amount stays with the Conference and one half is returned to the District to help defray the cost of conference and district programs and training.
Industrial & Commercial Ministries Sunday (Sunday in September nearest Labor Day)
September 1, 2013
One of the six Virginia Conference special offerings, this offering provides important and life-giving support to Industrial & Commercial Ministries (ICM), a Christian, ecumenical, not-for-profit organization that equips, places and supports volunteer chaplains in America's places of work. More information about ICM can be found on its Web site at www.icmamerica.org
World Communion Sunday (First Sunday in October)
Oct. 6, 2013
The World Communion Sunday special offering equips racial- and ethnic-minority students in the United States and international students to transform the church and their communities. Gifts support World Communion Scholarships (managed by the General Board of Global Ministries), with at least one-half of the annual amount for ministries beyond the United States; the Ethnic Minority Scholarship Program (managed by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry); and Ethnic In-Service Training Program (managed by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry). Worship resources are available at www.umcgiving.org. For more information, contact the Virginia Conference office of Children, Youth, Young Adult, and Higher Education Ministries.
Virginia Advocate Promotion Campaign Month (Month of October)
The Virginia United Methodist Advocate is the official conference newsmagazine published monthly throughout the year. It provides information, interpretation and inspiration to approximately 7,000 subscribers. The Advocate includes local church stories of faith and discipleship; practical ideas for your church's ministry; details on upcoming training events; mission opportunities around the world; and news relevant for today's United Methodists. In the Fall, local churches are encouraged to solicit new or renewed subscriptions to the magazine. Promotional materials can be found on the Virginia Conference Web site (www.vaumc.org) by selecting “Multimedia”>”Publications”>”Virginia Advocate.” For more information, contact the Virginia Conference office of Communications.
Children’s Sabbath (Second Sunday in October or any time during the year)
October 13, 2013
Sponsored by the Children's Defense Fund, the National Observance of Children's Sabbaths Celebration is a part of a broader Children's Sabbaths movement that aims to unite religious congregations of all faiths across the nation in shared concern for children and a common commitment to improving their lives and working for justice on their behalf. United Methodist Women has encouraged the use of the Children’s Sabbath since promoting it as part of their Campaign for Children, Phase I. The Children’s Sabbath was part of United Methodist Women’s partnership to highlight the needs of children within their local congregations and communities. The Children’s Sabbath promotional materials can be found on the Web site for the Children’s Defense Fund (www.childrensdefense.org ) under the “Faith-Based Action Programs” category.
Laity Sunday (Third Sunday in October)
Established by the General Conference to be observed on the third Sunday in October, Laity Sunday focuses on the celebration of the ministry of all lay Christians. In many local churches, Laity Sunday is observed by having lay persons lead all parts of the worship service. The General Board of Discipleship has the responsibility to provide general supervision and resources for Laity Sunday. Those resources can be found at www.gbod.org/laity. For more information, contact the Virginia Conference office of Leadership and Inclusivity.
Organ and Tissue Donor Sunday (Second Sunday in November)
Organ and Tissue Donor Sunday, observed as part of National Donor Sabbath, celebrates organ donation as an act of love and ministry to others in need. National Donor Sabbath helps increase awareness of the critical need for organs and tissues and the miracle of transplantation. Find out more about organ and tissue donation and download donor cards and other resources at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Donate Life Web site, www.organdonor.gov
United Methodist Student Day (Last Sunday in November):
Nov. 25, 2012
Nov. 24, 2013
The United Methodist Student Day special offering supports students who are finding new ways to serve God in the world. Contributions assist the United Methodist scholarships and the United Methodist Student Loan Fund, administered by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM). Annual conferences participating in the Rebate Program may award one or more merit scholarships to United Methodist students. Participating conferences may award scholarships to U.M. students who reside in the conference and who attend or will attend a U.M.-related college or university. Worship resources are available at www.umcgiving.org. For more information, contact the Virginia Conference office of Children, Youth, Young Adult, and Higher Education Ministries.
UMFS (United Methodist Family Services) Month (Month of December)
One of the six Virginia Conference special offerings, funds collected during this month provide important and life-giving support to UMFS which serves more than 7,500 individuals annually who have suffered abuse, neglect, crisis and trauma. UMFS provides strength-based programs and services that heal, educate, and empower — so that lives can be turned right side up. Offering materials are available on the UMFS Web site, www.umfs.org, under the “Donate”>”UMFS Offering” section
Men’s Ministry Sunday (Any Sunday in the year)
This Sunday, to be observed at any time during the year, celebrates men's ministry within and beyond the local church. The General Commission on United Methodist Men provides resources through its Web site at www.gcumm.org
United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM) Awareness Sunday (Any Sunday in the year)
The 2004 General Conference ruled that each annual conference may set aside a Sunday to be declared United Methodist Volunteers In Mission (UMVIM) Awareness Day. Each local church is encouraged to: (1) provide for UMVIM displays and information resources, (2) solicit individual or group testimonies, and/or (3) develop other ways to celebrate the UMVIM movement in whatever fashion that best suits the local congregation. Resources can be found on the Web site for the General Board of Global Ministries at www.gbgm-umc.org under the “Mission Volunteers” section.