Most churches pass the collection plate on Sundays for congregants to drop in tithes.
A few weeks ago, Hope Community Church did the opposite. It distributed cash-filled envelopes to members. Each person received cash, with denominations ranging from $10 to $100. Altogether, the church gave away $100,000 at its campuses in Raleigh, Morrisville and Holly Springs.
Members were challenged with a task: multiply the money and give it back to the community, a directive emulating two biblical parables in both Matthew and Luke.
“The Mina Project” has launched a variety of short-term entrepreneurs and mini businesses these past few weeks. Members are selling a variety of goods – from pies and tamales to cookies and coffee.
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Others are pooling their money to adopt families in need or using their professional talents to offer services.
This isn’t the first time Hope Community has sponsored the Mina Project, but it is the first time members will decide where the money goes.
“We used to have people turn the money back in to us, and we had funds for it to go into the community that way,” said Emily Blum, who works at the church. “This year we’re leaving it up to our congregation. It’s more personal for them. We want to have it affect their communities directly, not something we’re deciding to do. We want it to be a relationship-building process for them with the people that are around them.”
The project always has yielded more than what the church invested, said Blum. This year, members are encouraged to share what they’re doing with the money on www.unleashedhope.net/stories/.
Church member Jodi Burke received $10 and is joining with a few others to use her Apex preschool, Imagine That Learning Center, to multiply her money. They’re hosting a Santa’s workshop/drop-in daycare event.
“We’re using the money to buy the supplies for the Christmas gifts the kids will make for the parents, and we’re going to provide a snack,” says Burke.
“Children are what touch my heart ” she said. “We’re calling our small group ‘Angels for Hope.’ Our money will be used to sponsor as many angels as we can on the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree.”
Here are a few Mina Project events taking place over the next few weeks:
• The drop-in daycare and Santa’s Workshop is Dec. 6 at Imagine That in Apex. There will be four hours of daycare that includes kids making a present for a family member. The gift will be wrapped and ready to put under the tree. From 9:15 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.; cost is $30 for one child, $50 for two, $60 for three. For information, contact Jodi Burke at firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Jamie Valvano, a local middle school teacher, is joining with four others to sell funny Christian-themed T-shirts, including “Jesus loves you, but I’m his favorite,” for $15. The group hopes to earn at least $1,000 and plans to donate all proceeds to group homes in the Triangle that house those recovering from addictions to drugs and alcohol. To buy a T-shirt, email@example.com
• Professional photographer Edalisse Hirst and her husband Jim received $40 total and are offering 20-minute family photo sessions at their Apex home that include five edited images on a USB drive for $100. They used their money to create photo backdrops and purchase gently used drives. All proceeds will be donated to House of Hope of North Carolina, a home in Clayton for troubled girls ages 12-17. Visit Hirst’s Facebook page “Photography by Edalisse” for information.