Interviewer: Melissa, tell us about your foundation.
Melissa: The Mississippi United Methodist Foundation been around for 52 years. We help our fellow Mississippians by making sure that they have “resources for today and tomorrow.” We are proud of our work and we hope that more people will join with us.
Over the last 50 years, we have resourced churches and other entities for effective ministry and fruitful generosity by providing short term and long term investment options, managing endowments and trusts that impact communities, offering scholarships, and establishing presentations and programs to assist pastors and laity in telling the story of Jesus and his love.
Interviewer: What is a critical ministry you are providing and how do you think it helps people in Mississippi?
Melissa: We offer fellow Mississippians the chance to leave a legacy not only for their congregations and their ministries, but also for current and future students through scholarships. In fact, Acie Whitlock Jr. DMD, who is a member of our board says, “With the soaring cost of secondary education today, the Mississippi United Methodist Foundation's scholarship fund for undergraduate and seminary education is very helpful. It is one way to show churches, families and students how we show God's love by helping to feed the sheep in aid for education.”
Beyond our scholarship ministry, our Executive Director Mike Hicks would say - “The foundation is able to provide resources for stewardship and finances that are not available from other agencies for Methodists in Mississippi. We can go meet with committees, councils, or churches to give them personal attention and walk them through planning for legacy giving, stewardship, or personal financial management.”
Mary Lee Reed, Melissa Blakely, and Mike Hicks during the 2019 Mississippi Annual Conference
Interviewer: Tell us a little bit about your staff and your work.
Melissa: We are currently an office of four, but we are about to expand to five. Our Executive Director is Rev. Mike Hicks. Mike served local churches in Mississippi for 30 years and as a district superintendent for five years before coming to the Foundation. Our Associate Director is Mary Lee Reed. With more than 25 years’ experience in both public and private accounting combined, her experience includes work with individuals, trusts, for profit and nonprofit businesses including churches and another foundation. She is a licensed CPA in Mississippi and Tennessee. Additionally, she is member of the AICPA and Mississippi Society of Certified Public Accountants. Billie Spraberry is our Treasurer. She has been with the Foundation for 41 years. I am the Office and Communications Manager. I have been active in the nonprofit sector as a Communications Specialist as well as gaining experience in Accounting. I started work at the Foundation in February 2017.
Melissa Blakely, Mike Hicks, Mary Lee Reed, and Billie Spraberry
Interviewer: What is the most interesting resource you have developed recently?
Melissa: We developed a coloring book that helps teach children about tithing and generosity.
Interviewer: What is the one thing you wish people in the Mississippi Annual Conference knew about the Foundation?
Melissa: I want Methodists in Mississippi to know we are here to help make an impact on our future. Mike would say, “I want people to know we can provide them with resources they may need to talk about money and raising money. We can walk them through planned giving, help them develop narrative budgets rather than just line item budgets, and steer them towards excellent resources for financial giving.”
Lastly, if you want to learn more about the Mississippi United Methodist Foundation, you can explore our website - https://ms-umf.org/ or give us a call 1-800-496-0975.
Rare moment of snow in 2017