"With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ." 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12
Our stewardship focus in 2016 was to assess the current direction of our Stewardship Committee and what we are offering to the synod. We are praying for our congregations to know the desires of God and to empower them to glorify our Lord Jesus. The results were enlightening, energizing, and gave us direction for the coming year.
We realized primarily the consistent and greater need for our synod to sponsor learning events about stewardship and money culture(s). The key strategy must be to focus on building stewardship leaders within our congregations. As part of our assessment this year, we took a look at trends in synodical giving on a churchwide level. Our findings revealed that approximately 10% of ELCA congregations have significantly increased their giving to mission support while most have maintained standard levels. We also saw slight increases reflected in the individual financial support of congregations across the ELCA as well. With support from the vision and resources of our synod’s strategic plan along with ELCA Churchwide Offices, we can journey together towards wholeness and greater generosity in our finances, gifts, and volunteerism (time).
Mission support received from our congregations during the fiscal year ending January 31, 2017 clearly shows the need for a focused synod-wide stewardship program and, as mentioned above, our synod’s Stewardship Committee will take on that challenge this year.
- Mission support receipts totaled $1,171,321 for the fiscal year ending January 31, 2017. This was approximately $54,000 below our budgeted amount of $1,225,000.
- 79 congregations increased their giving in 2016 by a total of $95,883.
- 53 congregations decreased their giving by a total of ($88,450).
- 34 congregations maintained their giving at 2015 levels.
- 19 congregations gave nothing at all in mission support during 2016.
More than ever, we the Church, must be compelled to faithfully assemble ourselves on one accord to advance the mission of the kingdom of God. In 2017, we want to engage congregations with stewardship coaching as a model for multiplying leaders to keep our generosity as an important part of faith practices in our synod. We also hope to increase greater participation in conference, synodical, and churchwide leadership by encouraging new voices and other gifted lay and clergy leaders to get involved in the life of the Church.
We are certainly thankful for every effort and every gift of support made toward the synod and churchwide ministries, but it is clear much work remains to be done. Our goal is to achieve complete and total participation by all congregations, because together we can do more. Our local social services agencies, global mission partners, educational centers, new starts, and redevelopment churches, depend on your contributions. Let’s continue to support them in bigger and greater ways in 2017.
In God’s Care,
The Rev. Lamont Anthony Wells
Director for Evangelical Mission
The final quarerly statement of the 2016 fiscal year is in the mail! Congregations should be on the look out for their arrival.