Ector UMC Christmas Offering Helps A Neighbor Avoid Homelessness

Leonard tornado

A tornado damaged Leonard, Texas, in December. (Photo by Angie Compton Yost)

Connections help church find a person in need, then they meet the need by raising $1,248

In the small town of Ector, Texas — 24 miles west of Sherman and six miles east of Bonham — one church made a huge difference in the life of one of their neighbors. When Pastor Kristen Glover of Ector UMC asked church leadership about taking up a Christmas offering, they discussed who they could give it to and one of the leaders suggested helping in Fannin County.

An EF-2 tornado ripped through the area on Dec. 13, damaging homes and businesses. This was the second tornado to hit Fannin County in 2022. The church had not been in the custom of taking up a Christmas offering, but the congregation immediately jumped at the chance to offer assistance to someone in their community.

“I am so proud of the leadership at Ector UMC who wanted to make sure their neighbors were being taken care of in their own community and their willingness to do something new,” Pastor Glover said.

Glover reached out to Rev. Dana Coker at First UMC Bonham because she knew Coker would have the right connections through her work within the community. Rev. Coker connected Fannin County Emergency Management Coordinator Troy Hudson with Glover.

“Because of my congregation’s heart for the people in their community and the work that Rev. Coker has already done and those connections she’s made, within half an hour I was connected with Troy Hudson. There was a person that had literally contacted them that day because they would be homeless soon since their Red Cross funding had run out,” Pastor Glover said.

Within two hours of reaching out to Rev. Coker, she was talking with the man on the phone and hearing how they could help. The gentleman’s home had been destroyed by the tornado, but as a renter he did not qualify for federal funds. Without help, he would be without a home in a matter of weeks.

Ector UMC gathered about 40 people for Christmas Eve worship and the offering plate filled with more than $800. The church supplemented with additional funds and Pastor Glover delivered $1,248 to the man on Christmas Eve night. The text she received later that night said “I’m just shaking, I’m so grateful for what your congregation has done.”

Pastor Glover recognizes this would not have been possible without the relationships Rev. Coker has forged in Fannin County.

“I know how much time and effort it takes to cultivate those relationships. That shows me what Dana Coker has done in Bonham and Fannin County to be able to connect. It allowed me to connect with people more easily and really meet an immediate need that would not have come together otherwise,” Pastor Glover said. “It made me really proud of our United Methodist connection and the good work she has been doing in Fannin County to cultivate relationships in her community.”

Published: Wednesday, January 25, 2023