Return the blessing graphic

Claremore First United Methodist Church is looking to give back to those continuing to help the community, despite the difficulties of the last year.

“There are good people doing good things and we want to recognize them,” said Carrie Clifford, FUMC treasurer.

The program called “Returning the Blessing” allows community members to nominate their neighbors or local organizations to receive a “financial gift” from the church.

Clifford said Returning The Blessing is an adaptation of the Facebook show Returning The Favor, where Dirty Jobs host Mike Rowe rewards those giving back to their community.

Details are being determined as the church tests this program for the first time.

With no definite prize amount or even number of possible winners, FUMC is waiting on input from the community.

“We just want to hear what’s going on in our community and potentially be able to give them some kind of a donation,” Clifford said. “There’s not going to be any set amount and it’s not going to be limited to a certain amount of people. We want the nominations to come in and then we will gather those and read them. If we can give enough to 10 people, that would be fantastic.”

Nominations will remain open through Oct. 31 with applications being submitted through FUMC’s website — claremorefumc.org. Winners will be announced in early December on all of the church’s digital platforms.

Clifford said she hopes this program will act as a ripple effect and connect citizens who aim to make Claremore a better place.

“We are giving them an opportunity to shine and to show the community ‘Hey, here I am, I love loving on people and this is how I do that,’” Clifford said.

COVID-19 pushed church services online and made community involvement difficult for many.

“Pastor Ray Crawford wanted to tithe 10% of what we had received to help keep the church going back to the community,” Clifford said. “We were trying to decide how we would do that. I’m a huge fan of returning the favor, so I said why don’t we call it returning the blessings because it was a blessing for us to be able to receive those funds.”

While Returning the Blessings was created to give back after the pandemic, Clifford said she would love to be able to do this again, but it relies on the response FUMC receives.

“If we get these nominations in and we are like, ‘Wow, there are a lot of really good things,’ then that could certainly be something then that we would try and fund intentionally to make that a ministry or a grant process moving forward,” Clifford said.

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