By Paula Schlueter Ross
This year’s Association of Lutheran Mission Agencies (ALMA) conference attracted a few non-members, which actually makes a lot of sense, according to Rev. B. Steve Hughey, LCMS World Mission’s adviser to the organization.
ALMA is a network of some 80 independent Lutheran mission societies whose representatives meet annually to share ideas and coordinate work with each other and with LCMS World Mission.
The conference provides an opportunity for groups to discuss similar ministries and create alliances for working together, Hughey says, but also gives new societies a framework for getting started.
“It’s an excellent way to go,” says Hughey, because the conference offers workshops on starting a mission society, setting up governing boards, fund raising, and other “practical things like that.”
Also attending this year’s conference, Jan. 14-16 in St. Louis, were a handful of students from the Synod’s seminaries in St. Louis and Fort Wayne, as well as two students from Concordia University in Austin, Texas. The latter two are on the planning team for the next Beautiful Feet mission conference for college students, set for Nov. 4-6 at Concordia, Austin.
Sophomore Rebekah House, who is co-chairing the event, said she left the ALMA conference with at least 15 business cards from ALMA members who are interested in talking about their ministries at the Beautiful Feet conference. House, an education major who wants to serve in Africa, said linking ALMA groups with the Beautiful Feet event is ideal because most of the students who attend are interested in doing mission work, and ALMA groups can probably use some helping hands.
In his presentation to ALMA members, Rev. Matthew Harrison, executive director of LCMS World Relief/Human Care, shared information about his recent trip to Sri Lanka to assess tsunami damages (see related story). Harrison laid out a “theology for mercy and compassion” and noted how the Book of Acts and St. Paul tied together evangelism and caring for human needs.
“The absence of love renders our wonderful Lutheran confession a clanging cymbal,” he said. “But that solid confession — tied to compassion — is powerful to bring the Gospel to those in need.”
In his two-day session on “Biblical Missiology,” Dr. Eugene Bunkowske shared examples from Scripture for building a strong mission outreach.
The early believers, including the apostles, “had a single purpose” — to share the Gospel, he said. “If all of our pastors in the LCMS had a single purpose, how do you think our church would be?” Bunkowske asked.
“Powerful,” replied one participant.
Indian evangelist John Peter Kirubagaran and Rev. Don Miles, both with United Evangelical Mission International, talked about their 16-year “international partnership” that has benefitted Christians in the United States and India. Thanks to his U.S. partner, Kirubagaran said, his ministry has planted nearly 500 churches in India. To make changes in people’s lives, he said, a ministry must both share the Gospel and meet physical needs.
In addition to plenary speakers, the conference offered workshops on topics such as today’s “top ten” mission trends, working “outside the box,” and setting up, funding, and governing a mission society.
Re-elected as ALMA officers were Rev. Mike Malinsky of Assist ‘Em and Friends of Indonesia, president; Eileen Miesner of Mission Out Reach to Siberia, first vice president; Ron Scherch of Can-Do Missions, second vice president; and Todd Reineck Lone Star Bible Outreach, treasurer. Barbara Erickson of Latin American Lutheran Mission was elected to her first term as secretary. Hughey will continue in his role as ALMA adviser and liaison with LCMS World Mission.
Posted Feb. 3, 2005