Sharing God’s Gifts – St. Paul’s Lutheran, Karnes City

The idea of collecting donations in small offering boxes goes back to the very early 1800s, when women formed “mite” or “cent” societies to raise money. Mite boxes were given out as fundraising tools to collect pennies for the support of church projects and foreign missionaries.

These women-led cent societies, platforms for social activism as well as evangelism in the 19th century, published their own literature, Bible studies and other materials advocating around issues such as child labor, literacy and prison reform. In time, larger missionary and ladies aid societies developed out of this work because there was such an overwhelming demand not only for foreign missionary support but also for support at home. These women’s groups funded needs in their local churches as well as local community projects. Their capacity for fundraising was acknowledged and generally welcomed by their congregations.

The concept of Thankoffering celebrations dates back more than 100 years and beyond Lutherans. The Episcopal Church Women held their first recorded Thankoffering service in 1889, and the World Thank Offering service of the United Methodist Women has been a tradition for over 100 years. In the Lutheran tradition, the General Synod’s Women’s Home and Foreign Missionary Society created their first Thankoffering service in 1889 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the organization. At that first Thankoffering, $6,100 was collected. Today, Women of the ELCA collect more than $1 million in Thankofferings annually for the ministries and mission of our women’s organization.

Beginning in the late 19th century, Lutheran women were given small Thankoffering boxes to place in a special location in their homes as a visible reminder of blessings received. Women would add coins to those boxes almost daily as particular blessings were noted. From their use came the idea of an annual church service to celebrate their collection, and so the women of the congregation would come together for a Thankoffering service. The Women of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Karnes City will have their annual Thankoffering Service on Sunday, January 26 at 10:30 a.m. A potluck meal will follow the service. Members of the community are invited to attend the Thankoffering service, and share food and fellowship at the noon meal. For more information: 830-780-2251 or www.StPaulsLutheranKC.org