By Kim Plummer Krull
Ministry guided by the people of the LCMS that offers “tremendous impact” and otherwise “risks grinding to a halt” is moving forward with gifts totaling $411,305.69 — the first allocation from the 2016-19 National Offering — announced by LCMS Chief Mission Officer Rev. Kevin Robson.
“These generous gifts provided by the people of the LCMS beautifully reflect the love of Christ — His love for them, their love for Him — and in every instance will offer tremendous impact on the lives of others, both in the current generation and those that follow,” Robson said of the National Offering, the Synodwide gathering of gifts to support ministry priorities for the next three years as determined by delegates at the 66th Regular Convention of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, July 9-14, in Milwaukee.
Those ministry priorities include work by the Synod’s Offices of International and National Mission (much of which is backed by convention resolutions) and by the LCMS seminaries in St. Louis and Fort Wayne, Ind. — ministry that without financial support from the entire LCMS, Robson said, “risks grinding to a halt.”
Mission and ministry supported through this first allocation of gifts focus on strengthening:
- sound theological education in international mission fields served by the LCMS.
- evangelism and outreach, congregational revitalization, youth engagement and life-ministry initiatives in the U.S.
- initial human care in the wake of natural disasters.
- the formation of future pastors and trained theological leaders for LCMS congregations and also reduced demand for tuition-based seminary revenues.
‘Highest ministry priorities’ selected by LCMS people
“The projects selected reflect some of the highest ministry priorities as determined by delegates to the 2016 Synod convention, as well as what we are hearing from God’s people directly,” said Mark Hofman, executive director of LCMS Mission Advancement, which coordinates National Offering gift processing and reporting.
Each project “takes the Gospel into the world and to people who are vitally important to the future of the Christian Church. Allocations are tied to the priorities for our Synod for vigorously making known the love of Jesus Christ in Word and deeds,” Hofman said of the National Offering, which began in conjunction with the 2016 LCMS convention under the theme “Upon This Rock” and will continue as a giving opportunity until the next convention in 2019.
This debut allocation includes $139,200 each (34 percent each of the total allocation) to International and National Missions and $69,600 to support both LCMS seminaries through the LCMS Joint Seminary Fund (17 percent of the total).
Individual projects include:
- scholarships to the Lutheran Center for Theological Studies in Dapaong, Togo, Africa, for future French-speaking Lutheran pastors who otherwise would be unable to afford this East Africa seminary.
- an age-appropriate curriculum — including a special video — to teach the sanctity of human life to grade-school students in Lutheran and public schools.
- development of the first re:Vitality training module to help LCMS congregations invite, welcome and receive people from outside the Church.
Appreciation for gifts to shape next triennium
LCMS leaders made a commitment that National Offering gifts would support only mission-and-ministry work, Hofman said, using no gift to fund corporate Synod leadership or administration.
According to a new LCMS Board of Directors policy, he said, a prudent portion of the National Offering must be used to fund costs directly related to the solicitation, recording, receipting and reporting of contributions. However, that portion cannot exceed 10 percent of the total National Offering contributions even if such costs are higher.
Five percent of National Offering gifts received to date is held as a deposit for the next round of National Offering allocations, Hofman said, which will be determined as the offering continues to grow.
“What is fun and joyful for me to observe is how the people of the LCMS can and do shape and even lead the mission and ministry of the LCMS over the next three years with each act of joyful, Gospel-driven generosity. In some respects, all those who participate this way are laying the foundation for an LCMS mission-and-ministry narrative that our children and grandchildren will one day read as our history because we chose to walk together under Christ’s cross of redemption and forgiveness today,” Hofman said.
LCMS ministry and program leaders express deep appreciation to fellow Lutherans who have made National Offering gifts — and to those who will do so throughout this triennium. They encourage congregations and individuals to continue directing financial support through the offering.
“Through their gifts, people of the LCMS actually participate in making it possible for the Gospel to be proclaimed widely as God intends, because He ‘desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth’ (1 Tim. 2:4),” said the Rev. John A. Fale, executive director of International Mission. “Your Lutheran brothers in Christ Jesus thank God for you, that you have made this possible.”
For the complete report on the National Offering first-round allocations or to make a gift, visit lcms.org/national-offering.
Questions may be directed to Mission Advancement at 888-930-4438 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kim Plummer Krull (email@example.com) is a freelance writer and a member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Des Peres, Mo.
Posted November 30, 2016