Christmas is the season of giving, and in that spirit, Corydon Presbyterian Church in southern Indiana encouraged members to extend that giving outside their own families.

In fact, the church offered an incentive to make alternative giving a little more attractive. 

With alternative giving, rather than buying a material gift, a donation is given to a charity in the recipient’s name.

The Mission Committee set aside $1,000 and offered to match alternative Christmas gifts to the charity of the giver’s choice up to $50. The program was announced the week before Thanksgiving and continued until the funds were used up. 

Mission Committee secretary Karolyn Mangeot credited her husband, Richard, with the idea.

“Another local foundation was having a matching program and that gave me the idea for us,” said Richard Mangeot. “The church is always interested in getting members involved and helping them to see where their money goes. We thought this was a great way to give that giving a little extra kick and get them more directly involved.”

The committee streamlined the donation process, setting up a display with information and donation forms for many local and international charities. Also available were cards describing the gifts to recipients.

“We picked up every scrap of literature at the (World Mission Celebration ’09) in Cincinnati and included it along with local charities and some other non-church charities,” said Karolyn Mangeot. 

Givers chose a wide variety of organizations for their gifts, with funds going to Harrison County Community Services, Heifer International, Wayside Christian Mission in nearby Louisville, American School of Alexandria in Egypt, Malawi Mission, Hands Along the Nile, a church food pantry in Louisville and Pueblo a Pueblo in Guatemala.

The donations to the Harrison County Community Services fund proved to be especially lucrative thanks to a special offer by the Harrison County Community Foundation. The foundation matched 2-to-1 any donation to one of its funds just before Thanksgiving. The community services fund, which distributes money to different agencies in the county, has close ties to Corydon Presbyterian.

“This endowment fund at the Community Foundation was started with the proceeds from CPC coffeehouses to support our county food pantry and social services agency,” said Karolyn Mangeot.

Four members of Corydon Presbyterian took advantage of the foundation’s offer and Corydon Presbyterian’s campaign, giving $325 in honor of family members.

“With the foundation’s matching and the CPC alternative giving match, the total amount that was actually added to the Community Services’ fund was $1,650,” said a very pleased Karolyn Mangeot. “We are doing our best to involve our congregation and to make them feel a part and a beneficiary of their church giving.”

The Mission Committee wasn’t sure what the response would be from the congregation, but the program is a success. As of the Sunday after Thanksgiving, $600 of the $1,000 had already gone out to match alternative gifts. 

If it continues to go well, the program is something like to continue in future Christmas seasons.

Toni Montgomery is a freelance writer in Statesville, N.C., where she is secretary for First Presbyterian Church.

Editor’s note: This is the latest in a series of stories about congregations engaged in significant outreach and evangelism ministries, reflecting the General Assembly’s commitment to “Grow Christ’s Church Deep and Wide.” — Jerry L. Van Marter