United Thank Offering

"The World is My Community," United Thank Offering poster, 1944.

The United Thank Offering began as an extra-budgetary offering from the Woman’s Auxiliary and quickly became crucial to mission support, definitively demonstrating that women were far more than “auxiliary” to the work of the church.

The heart of the United Thank Offering was, and remains, “blessings given from blessings received.”  Pamphlets from the 1890s encourage women to contribute to the offering, emphasizing that occasions for thankfulness are abundant by describing circumstances in which one might be moved by gratitude to share one’s blessings, such as a sick child’s recovery or a crisis averted.

In 1891, the introduction of the “Blue Box,” a fundraising mechanism designed to collect spare change, allowed these simple expressions of gratitude to include the whole family. Each Blue Box was distributed with a prayer card and was placed in the home, to be filled over six months. Its contents were donated to the Diocesan Treasurer of the Woman’s Auxiliary, who would present the offering at the “Ingathering” during the Triennial Meeting. The Blue Box became a symbol for the tradition of selfless giving, a reminder of "thankfulness for the blessings the Christian Faith has brought to us, [and] a gift of love to those whom we want that Christian Faith to bless."

The United Thank Offering, officially named as such in 1919, was the ultimate expression of these efforts to expand the perspectives and opportunities of churchwomen. Unlike other funds that the Auxiliary collected, the women of the Auxiliary themselves decided how the UTO money was to be allocated each year.  This allowed them to fund many important programs and missions which were not covered by the main church budget. The UTO became one of the most important programs of the Woman's Auxiliary and has weathered the social and structural changes that eventually saw the dismantling of the Auxiliary itself.

Four generations give to the United Thank Offering, undated.

Mrs. Margaret Sherman (third from left) and Woman's Auxiliary delegates stand in front of the "Blue Box," an aircraft purchased through a 1952 UTO grant for the "Flying Bishop of Alaska," William Gordon, 1956.

Establishing the UTO

Woman's Auxiliary, 1919

Resolutions were adopted at the 1919 Woman's Auxiliary Triennial Meeting to formally change the name of the United Offering to the United Thank Offering and dedicate the 1922 offering for the support of women's mission work.

Woman's Auxiliary, 1922

A resolution was adopted at the 1922 Woman's Auxiliary Triennial Meeting commending the women of the church for their largest united offering in history, the first offering to bear the name "United Thank Offering."

United Thank Offering, 1922

Report of the United Thank Offering Committee to the Triennial of the Woman's Auxiliary, 1922. Although mite boxes were used to gather small donations prior to 1922, it was at this meeting that the United Thank Offering's iconic "The Little Blue Box" was formally established.

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