Churches across America have joined forces with the General Commission on United Methodist Men (GCUMM) to supportStrength for Service to God and Country, an ecumenical daily devotional geared toward the military.
One such church, Shepherd of the Hills United Methodist Church in Sun City West, Arizona launched an effort to raise enough funds to print and distribute 10,000 books. The initiative was spearheaded by member Cal Lackore, a 73-year-old veteran of the Korean conflict, who knew the impact the devotional would have had on him if only he had had one.
“Though the books were available during the Korean conflict, I was not fortunate enough to have received one,” said Lackore. “It would have made a big impact on me, which is why I wanted our church to help support this project. If we can encourage the faiths of the men and women who are fighting on our behalf, why wouldn’t we?”
Lackore launched Strength for Service Sunday program in late January. By sending periodic updates in the church bulletin and via email over the course of several months, he was able to raise more than $35,000 — enough to do a special printing with the church’s name inside the book.
Other churches have held smaller scale Strength for Service Sundays and every contribution helps the GCUMM to distribute more books.
“The support from Cal and Shepherd of the Hills has been phenomenal,” said Larry Coppock, Strength for Service director. “Members’ generosity within large churches greatly impacts Strength for Service because of the sheer number of contributions. Even if every person just gives a quarter — it adds up to mean more devotionals for our troops.”
More than one million copies of Strength for Service were distributed during World War II and the Korean conflict before it went out of print. A Boy Scout named Evan Hunsberger decided to republish the devotional in honor of his grandfather, who carried it throughout his service in World War II, for his Eagle Scout project. After three years of hard work, the book was published. Since the book’s re-release in 2002, more than 300,000 books have been distributed.
If your church would like to learn more about Strength for Service and how it could help support the project, please visit www.StrengthforService.org.