First UMC Tyler Invests 100,000 Dimes for Ministry
“Each coin we received was lifted up to the Lord and we asked that it be blessed for the ministry of our church.”
It’s not often that you hear about transforming a few dimes into $10,000. But First United Methodist Church Tyler accepted a challenge to take 50 cents and make it multiply, and multiply it did.
This amazing achievement began to take shape when the Rev. Clara Jean Gilbert and four of her church members attended an evangelism seminar in 2000. At the end of the gathering, they were handed a dime apiece and challenged to go out, evangelize, and make those few dimes multiply. As the group discussed the challenge before them, they decided to dedicate their five dimes to the church and encourage the entire congregation to add their own dimes to this humble seed money.
When the dime challenge got under way the process was quite simple, as a slit was cut in the top of an empty five-gallon water jug and church members began to add their dimes one by one. Children in the congregation eagerly participated along with youth and adults. As time passed, the jug was filled with so many dimes it could barely be lifted.
“We started having a special offering every fourth Sunday just for dimes. We challenged each person to bring in at least one roll of dimes, but some took it a step further and brought in milk jugs just filled with them. Each coin we received was lifted up to the Lord and we asked that it be blessed for the ministry of our Church,” Glibert said.
But as the church’s challenge was being met, a test of mettle presented itself. The jug was stolen. Someone rolled it right out the front door of the church. Gilbert estimates that it held $1,000-2,000 at the time.
Disappointed but not disabled, the church continued collecting dimes. They were actually more determined than ever, and the entire congregation got behind the project. When all was said and done, $10,000 had been accumulated from no more than pocket change.
Rather than spending this respectable sum on immediate needs, the church elected to put the money to use in a different way by investing in the Methodist Loan Fund. The congregation knew that their dimes would continue to grow to support their ministry in Tyler, while helping other churches across the state with loans for construction projects and other capital needs.
The story doesn’t end with that initial investment, however. Gilbert remarked, “We’re still saving our dimes. We’ve got close to $5,000 more saved, and we’re still counting!”
Don Psencik, the Foundation’s development officer for the Texas Annual Conference, added, “What a sincere congregation with an inspiring spirit and mission. I so enjoyed hearing this story, I wanted to be sure we took the opportunity to share it with others.”