The idea of collecting donations in small offering boxes goes back to the early 1800s, when women formed “mite” or “cent” societies to raise money. Mite boxes were given out as fundraising tools to collect pennies for the support of church projects and foreign missionaries. These women-led cent societies were platforms for social activism as well as evangelism.
Beginning in the late 19th century, Lutheran women placed Thankoffering boxes in their homes as a visible reminder of blessings received. Women would add coins to those boxes almost daily as particular blessings were noted.
Thankofferings show gratitude for God’s blessings and give us an important and tangible way to express that gratitude. It’s not just about providing assistance to others. It is also about provoking others to recognize their power to implement change through their offerings. It was this hope of change that motivated the women’s cent societies 200 years ago, and it is the same today. Inspired by our spiritual foremothers, we continue to see our witness to the gospel, our capacity to serve and our community of women grow through our offerings.
This message is excerpted from “All about thankofferings,” a 2010 resource of the Women of the ELCA, written by Emily Hansen. Today we commemorate Elizabeth of Hungary, renewer of society, 1231.
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