I hope you have been following along with the updates to the ELCIC Reformation Challenge. The 2017 National Convention will mark two years since our church officially began the ELCIC Reformation Challenge (elcic.ca/eformationChallenge). Not only is the Reformation Challenge making a difference for others, it is making a difference in our church as we work together and stretch ourselves in generosity as a church In Mission for Others.
What was proposed as modest goals grew into something that would stretch and amaze us as ELCIC members and congregations and synods looked for creative ways to be engaged in this initiative. In November 2016, our church reached our goal to sponsor 500 refugees and we continue to make significant progress in the other three areas of the challenge.
I want to draw your attention to one of the four areas of the Reformation Challenge – to raise $500,000.00 for the Endowment Fund of the Lutheran World Federation. The LWF is more than just a very important partner. Like all members, congregations and synods are part of the ELCIC, WE are ALL part of the LWF! We are part of a global communion of churches and together we do important ministry around the world. Ministry like caring for two and a half million refugees on a daily basis; having an ongoing dialogue with Catholics at the international level that enabled us to have joint common prayer commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in Lund, Sweden last October; advocating for human rights and peace with justice; encouraging the development and capacity of sister churches who are smaller and with fewer resources than we have. The list goes on and on.
Like many churches and communions of churches these days, the LWF is facing challenges of sustainability. One way the LWF is trying to meet this challenge is by growing its endowment fund. As the fund grows, it provides more annual interest to supplement other forms of financial support to enable its ministry, OUR ministry, to continue.
While we have not met our full goal, we have been able to raise more than $150,000.00 for the LWF Endowment Fund. I want to thank the Eastern Synod, because it is through your generosity and sense of partnership that we have reached this high mark. The Eastern Synod was blessed with a generous bequest, and chose to tithe what it has received with the ministry of the wider church. Knowing that raising money for an endowment fund was probably going to be the hardest challenge, the Synod Council designated these funds to this part of the Reformation Challenge. I can’t thank you enough for this incredible generosity! I can, however, share with you the thanks of Rev. Dr. Martin Junge, General Secretary of the LWF. In a letter to me he wrote: We are enormously grateful for the contributions raised through your Reformation Challenge. Your church has been a great inspiration to us (and to others) in our creative approaches to supporting the Endowment Fund. Please pass on my gratitude to all the colleagues who have helped with this campaign.
Thank you Eastern Synod! Your participation in the Reformation Challenge has demonstrated Spirited Discipleship, Healthy Church, Compassionate Justice and Effective Partnership – all adding up to being a church In Mission for Others!
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus. I Corinthians 1:4