Open hearts. Open minds. Open doors. The people of the United Methodist Church

Missions We Support

The Paoli United Methodist Church is a very missions-minded church. Our members give generous financial and hands-on support to causes in our community, across Indiana, across the country, and around the world.

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace.
— I Peter 4:10 (ESV)

Local Statewide National World-Wide


Local Missions

Among other activities directly ministering to the local community, our church supports the Paoli Community Food Pantry, which provides food for families in our community who are in need. Members bring food items plus cash which are presented to the Paoli Community Food Pantry on the third Sunday of each month.

We also support the Good Samaritan Fund of Orange County. This fund benefits family in Orange County, helping ease the burden for families facing catastrophic medical costs.

The Paoli United Methodist Church reaches out into the community to give assistance to those in need. In addition to providing money for emergency needs, we also offer an annual coat giveaway providing warm coats to those in need.

Members prepare food for the annual Samaritan Fund benefit dinner.

Members prepare the annual Good Samaritan Fund benefit dinner.

Our church uses the Disaster Pot to collect money and household items for area victims of tornados and other disasters. After one recent series of tornados, we also sent 52 Bibles.

Our members have donated 55 hygiene kits which we gave to United Way for distribution to people displaced by disaster. Each hygiene kit contains:

  • One hand towel
  • One washcloth
  • Toothbrush
  • Tube of toothpaste
  • Six small adhesive bandages
  • Nail clipper
Hygiene kit collected by Paoli United Methodist Church: one hand towel, one washcloth, toothbrush, toothpaste, 6 Band-Aids, nail clipper, and comb.

The Becomers class members regularly donate to the church's monthly collection of items for the Food Pantry, but here we see some of the members with a special collection for a needy family with five children. The class members donated essential items not covered by Food Stamps: toilet tissue, toothbrushes, toothpaste, laundry detergent, dish detergent, and other crucial supplies.

Becomers adult Bible study class with household supplies they are donating to a needy local family.

Backpack for Blessing is a local mission project. In early January 2017, members gathered to assemble the backpacks.

Backpack for Blessing.
Backpack for Blessing.
Backpack for Blessing.
Paoli Food Pantry's First Helping program bag, Pantry's Got A Brand New Bag!
Paoli Food Pantry's First Helping program

First Helping is the name for an initiative aimed at assisting the local food pantry effort. The name comes from the idea that most of us can have a second helping at our tables while some of our neighbors are struggling to have a First Helping. The shopping bags are manufactured by our own First Chance Industries so this project benefits that group as well. The goals of First Helping are: to raise cash for the pantries through the sale of shopping bags, to raise awareness of the problem by the visibility of the bags and to inform donors of the specific needs of the local pantries.

This project grew out of a discussion at The Back Door, a Sunday morning discussion group within the Paoli United Methodist Church. First Helping has been endorsed by the church's Administrative Council and, as a part of the congregation's overall mission program, funds collected from the project are channeled through the church's accounting system and disbursed under the direction of the Mission's Committee with oversight by the Administrative Council.

Carrying the bag while shopping reminds the shopper to buy something for the food pantry; it also reminds others who see the bag to make a purchase. Sharing contact information when the bag is purchased builds an email list that can be used to inform donors of the specific needs of the local pantries.

Alice with the bag for Paoli Food Pantry's First Helping program

Food pantries are often over-supplied with certain items (like canned corn) and under-supplied with other items (like canned meat). Food is food and both the pantry and the recipients are grateful for any donation. However, if the pantry does not have certain items that are needed to provide a balanced diet, they use cash to purchase these items at great expense. If the pantry can notify the First Helping Network of the specific items needed each week, then that information can be quickly and easily shared with the members of the network via email and social networking media. Donation of items that are actually needed reduces the pantry's need for cash.

Delivery of the items to the Food Pantry has been a major impediment for individual donors. The pantry is only open on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings (during normal working hours for most people). Churches and other organizations can and do serve as collection points but this intermediate step makes the process a little more difficult. A collection point within the store where items are purchased eliminates this extra step, making the donation process much easier. Food pantry volunteers can then visit the stores to transport items to the pantry.

Blankets of Love are made and given to the children of the women who come to the women's shelter in Salem. These children often arrive at the shelter afraid and without any of their belongings from home. We hope the blankets will provide some comfort to them.

Working on the Blankets of Love mission at the Paoli United Methodist Church.
Working on the Prayer Blankets mission at the Paoli United Methodist Church.

Prayer blankets are given to members in need, ill at home, in the hospital or in a nursing home. The blanket is placed in the foyer of the church where members may pray over it. The pastor then delivers the blanket.

Our Paoli church supports Habitat for Humanity of Orange County with an annual donation. Our members also volunteer to help with the construction. Other members do the follow-up work on the houses when construction is finished — they clean the house and make sure that everything is finished and ready for the family to move in. Habitat homes built in Orleans have grown into what is called Hope Village. Shelter from wind, rain, and cold is a basic human need. Habitat for Humanity International is a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian organization dedicated to eliminating substandard housing and homelessness worldwide and to making adequate, affordable shelter a matter of conscience and action. Habitat has an open-door policy: All who desire to be a part of this work are welcome, regardless of religious preference or background. Habitat has a policy of building with people in need regardless of race or religion, and welcome volunteers and supporters from all backgrounds.

The Paoli United Methodist Church also supports:

Two Cub Scouts of the troop sponsored by the Paoli United Methodist Church.

We sponsor a Cub Scout Pack and Boy Scout Troop 385. The Boy Scouts of America is one of the nation's largest and most prominent values-based youth development organizations. The BSA provides a program for young people that builds character, trains them in responsibility of participating citizenship, and develops personal fitness. For nearly a century, the BSA has helped build the future leaders of this country by combining educational activities and lifelong values with fun. The Boy Scouts of America believes — and, through nearly a century of experience, knows — that helping youth is a key to building a more conscientious, responsible, and productive society.

The Prevent Child Abuse Council is dedicated to preventing child abuse and neglect, and is committed to making Indiana a better, safer place for Indiana's most precious resource — our children. The council strives to increase awareness of the problem and inform communities about solutions; serves as a valuable resource for families, individuals and organizations; advocates for expanded and improved programs and policies to prevent child abuse and fosters a statewide network committed to child abuse prevention.

Jubilee Christmas Tree at the Paoli United Methodist Church.

The Jubilee Christmas Tree is our collection point for clothes and toys for children ages 5 to 13, which are distributed through Throop Elementary School. Our members also ring bells for the Salvation Army.

The Orange County Women's Center is a free non-denominational ministry for women promoting emotional and spiritual support through caring partners who have "been where you are" and who counsel you one-on-one-with-One about God's healing power, through support groups of women with kindred needs in fellowship, through Bible studies and especially through prayer support. It is a safe place for women to receive non-judgmental listening, comfort, encouragement, and support.

Family Literacy Program (FLiP) is a family literacy program which will reach out to all members of a family, not just those 18 years or older. Our new library will be where tutoring will be offered. Our volunteers are trained tutors and we hope to work within the schools to find those students and families that need help in reading, or getting their high school diploma. Our biggest need at the moment is monies for supplies. We hope that this program will run year round.

Paoli and Orange County seniors come to the Paoli Senior Citizens' Center for recreation, socializing and hot meals. There are birthday dinners for members and dances once a month.

The School Nurse Fund provides school items, clothing, eye exams and other services as needed. Through our support, the School Nurse is able to meet needs of the children in the school district.

Since 2008 the Paoli United Methodist Church has hosted a benefit dinner for the Good Samaritan Fund, part of the Orange County Community Fund. Musical groups provide entertainment during the dinner, and there is a a free-will offering and a silent auction. A wide variety of items are donated and sold in the auction.

In 2014, $13,300 was raised and 385 meals were served, up from over $12,000 in 2011. The makes for a total of $80,000 in the Orange County Community Foundation Fund raised from our Good Samaritan Fund dinners. This has enabled the Foundation to increase the amounts of the gifts given.

A wide choice of cakes and pies at the annual Good Samaritan Fund benefit dinner.

You can choose from a wide variety of cakes and pies!

The Crawford County Band at the annual Good Samaritan Fund benefit dinner.

The Crawford County Band, one of five musical groups providing music for the event, warms up.

The Crawford County Band at the annual Good Samaritan Fund benefit dinner.

Other musical groups have included Pete Webb and Jessie Smith, Sacred Calling, Grand View Junction, and Nicole Bridgewater.

Silent auction at the annual Good Samaritan Fund benefit dinner.

A silent auction raises money for the Good Samaritan Fund.

Silent auction at the annual Good Samaritan Fund benefit dinner.

The silent auction includes a wide range of items.


Statewide Missions

Map of Indiana.

Indiana United Methodist Children's Home in Lebanon is a residential treatment facility dedicated to helping youth and their families, The home provides services to boys and girls with educational, emotional, and behavioral difficulties.

Indiana United Methodist Children's Home has been serving youth and their families for nearly a century. Founded as an orphanage in 1915, the Home presently serves more than 165 boys and girls from across Indiana each year. Services to children and families are provided without discrimination based on color, national origin, sex, handicap, or religious affiliation.


United Methodist Youth Home in Evansville has a mission of assisting at-risk youth and their families in becoming independent, productive members of society. The United Methodist Youth Home is a faith-based non-profit organization that provides residential and outreach services to at-risk youth between the ages of 10 and 21, including pregnant teens and teen mothers. "Our residents are referred to us by caseworkers and probation officers from counties throughout the state of Indiana. We provide assistance to youth that might be overlooked or even forgotten without our services. We are always open, ready to welcome them, offer healing and prepare them for a fresh start in life."


Metro Ministries, the mission and program arm of all United Methodist churches of the Indianapolis Districts, connects congregations with people in need within seven counties. We hold in trust resources given to fund present and future projects that reflect inclusion, and development of clergy and lay leadership. Metro Ministries engages all United Methodist Church congregations through prayers, time, talents, and resources to spread God's love.


Backstreet Missions, based in Bloomington, Indiana, is dedicated to serving the homeless and those with spiritual and physical needs, reaching out to people where they are, extending Christ's love in practical ways.


Franklin United Methodist Community was founded by the Methodist Church of Indiana in the 1950s and it continues to provide excellent retirement living. It includes homes and cottages, apartments, and assisted living. Here we see a group from the J.O.Y. Class visiting a number of residents with Paoli connections — a current member, a former pastor, and the widow of a former pastor.

J.O.Y. Class from Paoli United Methodist Church visiting members and former pastors at the Franklin United Methodist Community.
J.O.Y. Class from Paoli United Methodist Church visiting members and former pastors at the Franklin United Methodist Community.
J.O.Y. Class from Paoli United Methodist Church visiting members and former pastors at the Franklin United Methodist Community.
J.O.Y. Class from Paoli United Methodist Church visiting members and former pastors at the Franklin United Methodist Community.

National Missions

County economic status in Appalachia, fiscal year 2012, from the Appalachian Regional Commission, http://www.arc.gov/research/MapsofAppalachia.asp?MAP_ID=55

Economic status in Appalachia, Appalachian Regional Commission graphic.

United Methodist Mountain Mission, Kentucky is a conservative, independent, evangelical, faith Mission that ministers in southeast Kentucky. It provides affordable, good, usable clothing and household items to people in areas of need, through Opportunity Stores; provides employment for people in those areas; and encourages spiritual growth.

Mountain Mission outreaches are varied and include rural church ministry, Youth Haven Bible Camp, school chapel programs, fitness and recreational facilities and a number of community outreaches. The purpose of Kentucky Mountain Mission is to promote the spreading of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the study of the Bible, the saving of the lost, the edification of believers, and the establishment of local, indigenous churches in the Kentucky mountains and vicinity.

Our Paoli church collects clothing and household items for regular pickup by Kentucky Mountain Mission.


Red Bird Mission and Clinic is located in southeastern Kentucky and has been providing ministries in this region of the Appalachian Mountains since 1921. Today the need remains critical in this isolated, rural distressed area. Chronic poverty, lack of jobs, poor housing, and rugged mountainous terrain provide obstacles to a fuller life for the residents of this area. Red Bird Mission and Clinic strives to meet these needs through ministry in five areas: Education, Health and Wellness, Community Outreach, Economic Opportunity, and Community Housing Improvement. It is the most comprehensive mission effort of The United Methodist Church in the United States, providing outreach and services that minister to the whole person (spiritual, physical, social, and economic).


Four Corners Native American Ministry is a Navajo cooperative parish of the New Mexico Annual Conference. The ministry consists of seven chartered churches, two mission congregations, and fifteen independent congregations and fellowships in New Mexico, Arizona and Utah on the eastern half of the Navajo Indian Reservation. Based in Shiprock, New Mexico, the ministry includes a children's day care center, a thrift shop and a mission team / home improvement program.

"We seek to declare the Glory of God to the peoples of the world. We seek to introduce those who have never heard the Gospel of the One who died to save them — Jesus Christ. We seek to help new believers grow strong and healthy in their faith and we hope to see new believers enfolded into a maturing church. We seek to invest in the lives of current and future church leaders, so they can invest in the lives of others. FCM follows Christ's command by giving aid to the world's poor, sick, and suffering. We demonstrate the love of Jesus with gifts of eye glasses, food, medicine and shoes. We also assist in long term infrastructure project needs through the construction of schools, bakeries, libraries, and much more."


World Missions

George Gedevanishvili, UMCOR Georgia Head of Office, Sita Markhulia, a Nurse at the Saberio Ambulatory, Gali District, and UMCOR Driver Otar Dargulia unload medical aid in Zugdidi, in Abkhazia.  From http://georgia.usembassy.gov/ev_06162006.html
George Gedevanishvili and UMCOR staff distribute kits to the children of Gali district after a Abkhaz Government in Exile-sponsored concert in Zugdidi.  From http://georgia.usembassy.gov/ev_06162006.html

UMCOR in Georgia's breakaway region of Abkhazia. George Gedevanishvili, UMCOR Georgia Head of Office, Sita Markhulia, a Nurse at the Saberio Ambulatory, Gali District, and UMCOR Driver Otar Dargulia unload and distribute medical aid in Zugdidi. U.S. Department of State photos.

United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is the not-for-profit global humanitarian aid organization of the United Methodist Church. UMCOR is working in more than 80 countries worldwide, including the United States. Our mission, grounded in the teachings of Jesus, is to alleviate human suffering — whether caused by war, conflict or natural disaster, with open hearts and minds to all people.

UMCOR responds to natural or civil disasters that are interruptions of such magnitude that they overwhelm a community's ability to recover on its own. UMCOR partners with local partner organizations and survivors to rebuild their livelihoods, health, and homes.

Health center being constructed in Sri Lanka with UMCOR assistance.  From: http://srilanka.usaid.gov/press_detail.php?press_id=18

UMCOR provided funds for temporary shelters and bathing areas for almost 13,000 internally displaced people in northeastern Sri Lanka. USAID photo.

In times of acute crisis we mobilize emergency supplies, fresh water, and temporary shelter to stricken areas, and then stay as long as it takes to implement long-term recovery. Our workers are known all over the globe for their compassion, leadership, expertise, and guidance in recovery efforts.

UMCOR works through programs that address hunger, poverty, sustainable agriculture, international and domestic emergencies, refugee and immigrant concerns, global health issues, and transitional development.

United Methodist hearts and hands are part of every program implemented; school kit, seed, health kit, fresh water and tool distributed in the US and throughout the world; and every new house, well, clinic, and school rebuilt after catastrophes of conflict or nature.


The Mid-West Mission Distribution Center compassionately helps God's people in need locally, nationally, and around the world. It provides an opportunity for anyone to have a "hands on" mission experience fulfilling Christ's command to help the "least of these" whose needs are great because of some disaster or circumstance that is not of their making.

The MMDC is located on an eight-acre campus, 4 miles south of Springfield, Illinois. Volunteers pack kits, sort items, sew school bags, hospital gowns, and blankets, and box goods for shipment in the Center. The warehouses are used for storage, loading trucks and shipping containers, and unloading supplies. Groups enjoy staying overnight in the dormitory that sleeps 32 and has a fully-equipped kitchen, laundry facilities, and community room. RV camping is also available. The Project Schoolroom Chapel building is large enough to have a small worship service or meeting. The second warehouse houses the woodshop where school desks are made, as well as other woodworking projects. The Twice Giving Gift Shop offers items made by craftsmen from developing countries, as well as some local craftsmen, and MMDC apparel.


A family sleeps under an insecticide-treated mosquito net, protected against malaria-carrying mosquitoes.

A family sleeps under an insecticide-treated mosquito net, protected against malaria-carrying mosquitoes. USAID photo.

The Nothing But Nets campaign was inspired by Sports Illustrated columnist Rick Reilly who wrote a column appealing to his readers to donate money for insecticide-treated mosquito bed nets to help prevent malaria among children and families in Africa. Joining in the campaign are the United Nations Foundation, NBA Cares, Sports Illustrated, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The United Methodist church and others. Bishop Mike Coyner has designated March as a month the Indiana churches can show their support of the Nothing But Nets campaign.

Malaria infects more than 500 million people each year, and more than a million die from the disease. Insecticide-treated mosquito nets reduce the incidence of malaria by half in areas of high transmission, yet fewer than 5 percent of African children sleep under a mosquito net. Bed nets create a protective barrier against mosquitoes at night, when most transmissions occur. A family of four can sleep under an insecticide-treated bed net, safe from malaria, for up to four years. The benefits of bed nets extend beyond the family. When enough nets are used, the insecticide used to deter mosquitoes makes entire communities safer — including those individuals who do not have nets.


Operation Classroom has its roots in Indiana. The program took shape in 1987, led by John Shettle and Bob Bowman, newly-elected lay leaders, as a plan to upgrade secondary education in United Methodist schools in partnership with Liberia and Sierra Leone Annual Conference and the General Board of Global Ministries. Ten schools were selected for upgrading by the Liberia and Sierra Leone annual conferences. The program had as its mission:

  1. To upgrade UMC secondary education in Liberia and Sierra Leone
  2. To be an avenue of renewal for the United Methodist Church
  3. To provide hands-on mission experiences for United Methodists
Political map of Africa, West Asia and Europe.

In 1989 a civil war erupted in Liberia, causing people to flee and schools to close. OC responded to the new challenges by opening refugee schools in Ivory Coast and in Guinea. In 1997 the war spilled over into Sierra Leone. OC continued to work in those schools that remained open and eventually opened a refugee school in Guinea. Surprisingly, despite the wars, OC was able to assist in the construction of four schools in Liberia and one in Sierra Leone.

Vocational education has always been a priority for Operation Classroom. They are presently partnering with both West African annual conferences in developing a viable vocational program in the schools.

Currently Operation Classroom is in partnership with more than 20 schools (both elementary and secondary), 2 hospitals and several clinics, and has continued to train persons in a basic understanding of counseling.

Churches and individuals from 42 states have participated-in various ways-in its program. Operation Classroom continues to partner with UMCOR and the Women's Division in meeting their common mission goals. All projects are General Advance Specials.


Africa University opened in March 1992 as the first private, international university in Zimbabwe. The pioneer group of 40 students came from a dozen Africa countries to pursue bachelor's degrees in agriculture and natural resources and theology. Africa University is a United Methodist Church-related project and is being nurtured and funded by church members from all over the world. It is a consequence of the growth of United Methodism on the African continent and has its foundations in the history and legacy of the church.


The Gospel of John.

The Gideons International was founded in 1899 and it serves as an extended missionary arm of the church and is the oldest Christian business and professional men's association in the United State of America.

In the autumn of the year 1898, John H. Nicholson of Janesville, Wisconsin, came to the Central Hotel at Boscobel, Wisconsin, for the night. The hotel being crowded, it was suggested that he take a bed in a double room with Samuel E. Hill of Beloit, Wisconsin. The two men soon discovered that both were Christians. They had their evening devotions together; on their knees before God the thoughts were given which later developed into an association.

"The sower soweth the word." — Mark 4:14

It's been nearly 100 years since The Gideons International placed the first Bible in a hotel room in Montana. Today, The Gideons are organized in more than 180 countries around the globe and print Scriptures in more than 80 languages. Through God's grace and to His Glory, more than 1.3 billion Bibles and New Testaments have been placed by The Gideons, and the work continues...

The Paoli United Methodist Church hosts a Gideon speaker during worship at least once each year at which time a special offering is collected to support their work. Several of our members are also members of the Gideons.


Peter Mwakabwale, at right, Heifer International Country Director for Tanzania, and U.S. Ambassador Alfonso Lenhardt (in cap) hands over a dairy cow to Tabu Jumbe and (left) her husband, Jalala Mtelea, at Msimbu village in the district of Kisarawe.  Source: http://tanzania.usembassy.gov/ph_06282010.html

Peter Mwakabwale, at right, Heifer International Country Director for Tanzania, and U.S. Ambassador Alfonso Lenhardt (in cap) hands over a dairy cow to Tabu Jumbe and (left) her husband, Jalala Mtelea, at Msimbu village in the district of Kisarawe. U.S. Department of State photo.

Heifer International gives gift of cattle, sheep, rabbits, guinea pigs, honeybees, pigs, llamas, water buffalo, camels, alpacas, yaks, horses, chicks, ducks, goats, geese, fish, and other regionally appropriate livestock, as well as tree seedlings. As of 2006, these animals and plants have been distributed in more than 125 countries around the globe. Each gift perpetuates Heifer's interest in agro-ecology and sustainability.

Heifer International works to ensure that the gift of each animal will eventually help an entire community to become self-sustaining. Animal such as goats, water buffalo, and camels are "seven M" animals: they provide meat, milk, muscle, manure, money, materials, and motivation. Once it's immediate needs have been met, a family is free to sell any excess at market. Heifer International provides a breeding animal along with the gift animal so that it can produce offspring. Participating families are required to "pass on a gift", that is: they must give at least one of the female offspring to a neighbor who has undergone Heifer's training. In time, that neighbor will pass along one of the offspring of their animal, and so on. Heifer International is involved in several other progressive initiatives which provide people with clean water access to education and emergency housing.


Haiti Relief Fund has been providing basic emergency relief of food, water, clothing and temporary shelters to the earthquake victims of Haiti. They assist in rebuilding school, medical clinics, and hospitals.