By Cheryl Magness
Through its longstanding Soldiers of the Cross initiative, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) has delivered emergency financial support and pastoral care to professional church workers in crisis since 2004. Now, as the world faces the COVID-19 pandemic, the LCMS will use Soldiers of the Cross as one means to continue to assist LCMS church workers and their families.
The Synod is working closely with Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF) to assist workers who find themselves with immediate unmet financial needs stemming from the spread of the pandemic. Through a strengthened and expanded Soldiers of the Cross COVID-19 initiative, a minimum of $2.5 million — $1 million from LCEF and $1.5 million from the LCMS (in current Soldiers, LCMS World Relief & Human Care and LCMS Disaster Response funds) — will be made available to ordained or commissioned ministers and laity serving congregations, schools and RSOs.
On April 1, LCEF “fast-tracked” its $1 million commitment to the Soldiers COVID-19 effort by providing initial grants of $28,500 to each of the 35 LCMS districts. Workers in immediate financial peril may be assisted even before their grant application is submitted to the LCMS Office of National Mission for approval. Subsequent grants will follow a grant approval process that is currently being managed by LCMS Disaster Response and Training.
Grants from Soldiers of the Cross are administered through LCMS districts with the counsel and aid of district staff. Together, LCEF and the LCMS are beginning to ask God’s people for an additional $2.5 million in Soldiers of the Cross assistance to church workers facing the current crisis.
Gifts to this effort are being received by LCEF at lcef.org/product/give and by the LCMS at lcms.org/soldiers-of-the-cross. The LCMS will also continue to use donations designated for LCMS World Relief & Human Care and LCMS Disaster Response. Those seeking more information about this effort are encouraged to contact LCMS Mission Advancement or LCEF.
Beyond Soldiers of the Cross, LCEF is employing numerous other financial tools to help its clients, including several specifically put in place by LCEF’s COVID-19 response team. Some borrowers may need a simple re-amortization of an existing loan. Others may need a quick line of credit to bridge the gap or a specialized loan to carry them through a greater need. Still others may need more aggressive financial solutions. Congregations are encouraged to contact their LCEF district vice-president to discuss their specific needs.
The Rev. Bart Day, president and CEO of LCEF, said, “By God’s grace, LCEF is blessed with the resources to respond quickly in such a time as this. Thank God for Soldiers of the Cross and this partnership with them.
“Our people, congregations, schools and organizations need us now more than ever, and our investors know this is exactly why they chose to support LCEF: for the church and her people. It is a blessing to love and serve them in this way for all that they have done.”
For more information about how LCEF is responding to the COVID-19 crisis, visit lcef.org/business-continuity-statement.
For continuing updates and additional resources from the LCMS about the coronavirus, see lcms.org/coronavirus.
Posted April 3, 2020