Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
Alleluia! Christ is risen! Christ is risen, indeed! Alleluia! So goes the shout of the church in this Easter season. With Christ arisen, we, too, live again in the hope of resurrection and in life that extends far beyond the grave. The question before us, now that death no longer holds us captive, addresses a new hope for the future: how shall we live?
One of the marks of Christian life after Easter has always been generosity. In the days of the early church, believers often gathered together for communal meals, and some communities actually created a sort of communal society, where all goods were held in common and all shared freely from what God had entrusted to them. Two millennia later, we Christians of the 21st century still practice this generous sharing of what God has entrusted to us. Here at St. Petri, we share a beautiful, historic congregation with its own building and local ministries. We also share as a congregation to support ministries beyond our local community. Over the next few months, I’m going to share the stories of these ministries with you, so that you will be better informed about what happens to every dollar you return to God in thanksgiving for what God has given to you.
The largest portion of our giving goes to the Northeastern Iowa Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. In a newsletter article a few years ago, Pastor Mark Anderson of the NEIA Synod Staff shared a brief glimpse of the many ways the Synod partners with our congregation in the ministry of our church:
This is too short a space to review all the synodical ministries or narrate the budget, but here is a summary of what I think readers will care about the most.
Sharing Jesus and Supporting Congregations
- Use a strong social media presence to proclaim the Word, call the church to prayer, and lift up and encourage congregations’ witness.
- Consult with congregations who request assistance in renewal, stewardship, and evangelism.
- Accompany our new worshiping communities in Farley and Parkersburg.
Passing on the Faith from Our Generation to the Next
Youth, Family, & Young Adult Ministry
- Provide help for parents to teach the faith to their children.
- Support youth workers and youth ministry.
- Offer Christian leadership training for high school students.
- Support campus ministry.
Raising & Supporting Pastoral Leadership for Congregations
- Walk with candidates through the process of becoming pastors and other rostered leaders.
- Secure funding to support Seminary Education.
- Train and coach new pastors.
- Guide congregations through the call process.
- Provide continuing education opportunities for rostered leaders.
- Help church leaders to prepare to retire.
Sharing Daily Bread & Working for Opportunity
Poverty & Justice
- Domestic Hunger Grants fund community and church gardens to grow food for food shelves, food banks and community meals.
- Barnabas Uplift provides job training for the unemployed.
- Provide funding to Lutheran Services in Iowa for the care of children, families, the elderly, and people with special needs.
In addition to undesignated “mission support,” (offerings received from congregations) the members of the Northeastern Iowa Synod last year gave:
- $177,000 to ELCA World Hunger
- $55,000 to support Lutheran World Relief
- $49,000 to support missionaries
- $48,000 to the ELCA Malaria Campaign
- $15,500 to Domestic Disaster Response
We give thanks for all those people and congregations who give to support the wider church and for all the ministries these gifts make possible.
This is just a snapshot of the many ways we congregations of the Northeastern Iowa Synod provide support to one another through the offerings we pass on in mission support. Individual congregations could not do this on their own, but together we support and encourage one another, and the sum of what we can do together is much larger than the parts each individual church offers. I join Pastor Anderson in thanking you for your generous support of our ministries, and I encourage you to grow in that generosity in 2018!
Yours in Christ,