A youth group raises $100 on a car wash and is looking for an interesting mission project to give the money.
A small church in a rural area wants to help a refugee family get a new start but lacks the resources to respond adequately.
An urban campus ministry seeks to expand its efforts to foster interfaith dialogue among college students.
A child asks his or her parents how to spend piggy-bank money to help kids in another part of the world.
A presbytery wants to buy new school uniforms and shoes for boarding school students in a village in India.
How can these Presbyterian bands connect, to match desire with need?
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s Synod of the Pacific believes it has come up with one solution: Pacific Mission Exchange (PMX). The Web-based vehicle for matching mission projects with mission givers is “going live” Sept. 9.
After several years of conversations between the 11 member presbyteries and the synod, PMX now offers a wide range of short- and long-term mission projects for funding that are as diverse as the synod — from the deserts of Nevada to the farmlands of the San Joaquin Valley in California and the potato fields of southern Idaho, from urban centers like San Francisco and Portland to the isolated redwood forests of the northern California coast.
“PMX is happening at the right time,” says Kathy Trott, who led the team that developed PMX. “We are in a time of increasing need, a time when people want to be involved in mission, and a time where people want to have a say as to how their donations are used.”
The PMX concept is simple: each of the presbyteries posts their mission projects on the PMX Web site. Potential donors — from individuals to large congregations’ mission committees — can visit the site and choose the projects they want to support. “There really is something for everyone,” Trott, a member and former moderator of Sacramento Presbytery, says.
PMX uses “PayPal” for transactions, so donors can make their contributions online. The system even generates tax-deduction receipts at the end of each transaction.
“Where else can a family, or a youth group, look at a whole range of projects and pick the one ... or five ... that they want to give to,” Trott says.
And while the synod hopes PMX will create new streams of mission dollars flowing to projects within the synod, Trott says she hopes it will also inspire others around the church to think just as creatively.
“We’ve already seen where other churches and individuals inside and outside our synod are supporting our projects or trying to implement something like them in their own congregations and communities,” she says.
“People everywhere want to make a difference, to have an impact,” she says. “Now there is a way for more people to be involved and even more amazing mission to take place. We also hope that PMX will be a connecting place for volunteers, so people can help physically, not just with their money.”