By Holly McCray
Arthur Lyons was worried. The Anadarko church he pastors—St. Paul UMC—was participating in Project Noel. He had hoped St. Paul would have more gifts to give children for Christmas 2009. The supply seemed meager.
Then he helped deliver those gifts, and his perspective was transformed.
"What we thought was not enough was seen as abundance by those we delivered to," said the pastor. He saw teachers in tears when they witnessed children’s excitement.
Rev. Lyons brings his new view to the Christmas 2010 effort. He urges all Oklahoma churches that sign up for Project Noel to discard any sense of entitlement and embrace whatever blessings come from the Project Noel national donors.
"Project Noel is a blessing to the churches to, in turn, be blessings," he said. "God loves a cheerful giver. This is just going to grow."
The holiday gift-giving project is sponsored by the Commission on Rural/Smaller-Membership Churches. In 2009, a total of 96 Oklahoma churches participated.
Any church, of any size, is invited to take part. And Project Noel’s general coordinator, Joe Tilton, hopes more congregations plan to do that. He said shipments of tons of donated items—$3 million worth—are expected, an increased value of about $500,000 over last Christmas.
No one knows in advance what national donors will ship to the distribution center in Oklahoma City.
But on Oct. 21, the commission did specify other steps.
To participate, a church must pre-register online between Nov. 1 and Nov. 30. No exceptions.
Limit is one registration per church, regardless of how many groups are a part of that church.
Each church is limited to receiving items for no more than 100 children and 75 families, and is not guaranteed a specific number of items.
No inventory listing will be posted online or provided via phone. (Inventory changes as new shipments arrive at the distribution center.)
The distribution center, an Oklahoma City warehouse at 201 N. Ann Arbor, will open on Dec. 13. Final day to pick up items is Dec. 23.
A church is limited to one trip to pick up gifts at the warehouse before Dec. 23. On the 23rd, churches may make additional trips and select from remaining items.
The proper forms must be presented to warehouse workers when arriving to pick up gifts. Registration coordinators are James and Shirley Farmer.
Warehouse hours will be Monday-Friday, from 1 p.m. until 4:30, through Dec. 23. The site will not be open Dec. 24. If a church is unable to pick up during these hours, due to an emergency, other arrangements may be made.
Extensive details are online at www.okumc.org/ProjectNoel. Questions? Contact a commission member; find their names on page 26 of the 2010 Journal.