Nearly 500 overseas bishops, guests and United Thank Offering supporters gathered Thursday night at the UTO Sharing Dinner to celebrate the generosity of Episcopalians and the selfless service of missionaries.
Former UTO staff member Alice Emory, who is related to UTO founder Julia Chester Emory, was a special guest at the dinner. Representatives from the Young Adult Service Corps (YASC), a new mission program of the Episcopal Church, presented the evening’s program. YASC members also mingled during the dinner to tell their stories.
“YASC was the product of the 2000 General Convention, and this is a showcase for what has happened with that directive to form an organization for young people,” said UTO Sharing Dinner Chair Marion Luckey. “This is the first convention since YASC has been constituted, and we thought people would like to see what happened.”
Nearly 30 young people, age 18 to 30, participate in the program, which offers one-year overseas missionary posts throughout the Anglican Communion.
“The program lifts up young adults’ gifts and tries to match those gifts with the needs of the world,” said Alex Dyer, from Southern Virginia, who coordinated the YASC presentation at the dinner. Dyer served as economic development coordinator in the Diocese of Egypt from 2001 to 2002.
After the youth go through a gifts discernment process, Jane Butterfield, director of mission personnel in the national Episcopal Church office, uses her contacts around the world to arrange for YASC participants to go where they are most needed, Dyer added.
UTO collects and gives money, but it does not do fund raising, said Luckey. “We encourage prayers and offerings — and the offerings are given out in grants,” she said. “All money collected is given out in grants. Many people can’t believe it, but it’s true.”