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Union Mission Ministry receives $50,000 offering

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Union Mission has received a gift of more than $50,000 to support programs for the needy thanks to a love offering collected at Winter Jam 2013.

"It was a tremendous help," said the Rev. Rex Whiteman, president and chief executive officer of Union Mission Ministries. "Our needs have been incredible. You don't want to turn anyone away, but sometimes you say 'Lord, help us.' For us, this was manna from heaven."

Whiteman said he received a call from concert organizers before the event held last Friday at the Charleston Civic Center. The lineup included TobyMac, RED, Matthew West, Jamie Grace, Sidewalk Prophets and Royal Taylor.

"Their leadership phoned me for information about the mission," Whiteman said. "They called and said they were thinking of giving us a love gift. I rattled off a general overview" about assistance offered through Union Mission.

Admission to the concert was $10. The crowd at the Civic Center totaled more than 13,000, said John Robertson, the Civic Center's general manager.

"We were at capacity and turned away 1,500," Robertson said of the huge turnout.

Whiteman said concert organizers in charge of business decisions felt a love offering should be collected to help support a need in the community. This extra offering at previous events had been used to help with expenses and incidentals, he said. For the first time in 17 years, it was decided to change course, he said.  

"They felt the Lord wanted them to share it with someone else," Whiteman said. "They felt they needed to give a first fruits offering to the Lord. They wanted the money to stay in the community and help people in need."

Whiteman learned the night of the concert that Union Mission had been selected as the recipient of the love offering. On Monday a local organizer delivered a check to the mission for $51,797.51.

The generous gift arrived at a time when finances were very lean.

"We had a very difficult year financially," he said. "Expenses were up because we had a greater number of people coming for help. The need level has risen extensively."

Within the last year, more than 500 West Virginia donors have died. Also, some who could afford to help in previous years were struggling themselves in a difficult economy.

Concert organizers were not aware of the financial hardships when they decided to collect an offering for the mission, he said.

"The spirit of God must have told them," Whiteman said. "We had nothing to do with it."

Union Mission has several ministry components, including emergency shelters, addiction recovery programs, pregnancy crisis center and assistance for those at risk for homelessness. The mission provides services ranging from food, clothing and furniture to shelter, counseling and spiritual guidance.

"We are Christ centered," Whiteman said. "We show the love of Christ."

For more information about Union Mission, go to www.wefeedpeople.com or call 304-925-0366.


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