From Jim Morris
A large number of persons have approached me and asked that I prepare a letter to the editor outlining the origins of the crisis fund of the Union County Ministerial Alliance before those origins are lost.
In the mid-1970s, the Creston Ministerial Alliance, as it was then named, confronted a problem of persons in the county who were going from one church to another seeking funds. The Alliance decided to take action which would do two things: to provide a unified approach to those who were in need and deal with the abuse.
Three persons were appointed to research what others were doing, and to make recommendations to the alliance. Father Art McCann was appointed chair of the committee, with Rev. Dale Cunningham, long-term pastor of the Presbyterian Church and Rev. Jim Morris, head of the 10-church larger parish in the eastern part of the county, as members. Much work went into their report, which was reported to the Alliance at a regular meeting where the report was presented, discussed at length, amended and adopted by the group. All the churches in the county except three subsequently adopted the report.
The report included the following guidelines:
1. The name adopted was the crisis fund of the Creston Ministerial Alliance.
2. All funds which came into the Creston Ministerial Alliance would be directed to the crisis fund, so that every contributor would know their contribution went entirely to alleviate community crisis needs.
3. The treasurer of the Creston Ministerial Alliance would administer the crisis fund under the direction and guidance of the Alliance.
4. Funds would be administered in a system of trust, confidentiality, and in an honor system to include all of Union County.
5. Any and all changes in the administration of the fund would be dealt with at a regular meeting of the Creston Ministerial Alliance prior to their implementation.
6. A monthly report of the income and disbursements of the crisis fund would be shared by the treasurer at all regular meetings.
7. The place of the crisis fund distribution would be reconsidered at the election of a new treasurer. Handicapped accessibility would be the primary consideration.
More than 40 years have passed, and many changes have been made over those years. The Alliance itself has chaged its name to the Union County Ministerial Alliance. The areas served have been enlarged to include persons coming from beyond the county, such as Orient, Macksburg, Diagonal, Tingley and Clearfield. The size of grants and their frequency have been changed many times, most recently in January 2013. But all income of the Union County Ministerial Alliance has always gone into the crisis fund. All policies and procedures have always been carefully and prayerfully considered by the Alliance prior to implementation.
Those in need in the county who are in crisis may still come and receive aid. At the present time, that help is limited to $30 in the form of a gas voucher, a direct gift, or a Christmas club voucher. Aid will only be given every 60 days. There is also an agreement with Super Eight Motel for a one-night stay for homeless persons or families. All of these guidelines are subject to change by the Union County Ministerial Alliance at any time.
These are what I recall as the origins of the crisis fund, which continues to do a great deal of good in Union County. Father McCann and his committee did solid and enduring work, and we owe much to him.