News and Resources from the Upstate New York Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Living Our Mission


By: Marcia Brown, Mission Interpreter

school lunchBoy, what a winter! How many snow days has your local school district had? In some areas, spring & summer vacations are being adjusted because there have been so many days off. So, why title this article “Hungry?” What does that have to do with the weather? 31 million children in 100,000 schools in the US depend on free or low-cost school lunches, and when they don’t go to school, they probably go hungry. 50 million in the US don’t know where their next meal is coming from, so it’s evident that a lot of those kids’ parents and families are hungry, too.

That’s where the ELCA World Hunger program comes in:

ELCA World Hunger helps reach communities most in need throughout the world. Its relationships in the U.S. and around the world create an infrastructure that allows it to be very cost efficient and effective – less than 10 cents of every dollar is used for program administration and fundraising. From Alaska to Alabama, from Chile to China, your gifts are hard at work helping our neighbors near and far break the cycle of hunger and poverty. Your generous giving makes it possible for ELCA World Hunger to be present throughout the United States and throughout the world. It supports projects and programs in 43 states and 56 countries.

From health clinics to micro-loans, food pantries to soup kitchens, advocacy to community organizing, your gifts are supporting innovative solutions that get at the root causes of hunger. Last year, your gifts to ELCA World Hunger supported at least 636 projects around the world, including:

  • 388 food pantries, homeless shelters and other projects in the United States;
  • 239 sustainable development, health and other projects around the world; and
  • 15 education and networking programs in the ELCA.

In 2012, your support of ELCA World Hunger totaled $18.6 million. Your gifts to ELCA World Hunger are making a difference. Thank you!

10,000 Steps

By: Rev. Justin Johnson, St. Timothy, Geneseo

10,000 StepsToday, March 5th, the church celebrates Ash Wednesday, where we recognize the joy of life and lift up the promise of resurrection with the simple words: “You are Dust.” In the Genesee Finger Lakes Conference (GFLC), pastors and some congregations will not only start the Lenten journey, but a different type of journey-a journey to fitness. The challenge is to walk or roll 10,000 steps or 5 miles a day beginning Ash Wednesday through Easter Sunday.

Pedometers were provided to each pastor in the GFLC thanks to a grant provided by the Synod Council from the Health and Wellness fund. These funds are provided by Portico when pastors and spouses of our Synod take the Health Care Assessment. This year, the Synod Council offered a matching grant of $150 to congregations or conferences. The GFLC was one of the recipients of those grant funds.

Pastors and parishioners are encouraged to walk 10,000 steps a day. Some congregations are taking the challenge a step further by adding additional levels to the challenge. The second level of the challenge is to gather in groups and walk and talk. Members are encouraged to talk about Scripture, or mission, or any other topic. The idea is to connect with one another in a new way across the congregation and conference.

The final level is to add a financial or volunteer portion. Some members are donating funds to a favorite charity or toward hunger for each day they walk 10,000 steps. Others are donating time, as a team, to a local soup kitchen or food shelf.

The great news is the 10,000 step challenge isn’t only in the GFLC, but can be done any place in our Synod. Simply commit to walking 10,000 steps (or roll or any other number of steps that is a challenge for you) from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday. Then gather together in teams one day a week and walk and talk. Finally, donate time or money as an individual, team or congregation to a mission of your choosing. It is a simple way to do mission, be the church, and get fit.

The GFLC thanks the Synod Council for the grant opportunity from Portico and the Health and Wellness Fund. We also thank Fleet Feet in Rochester for providing pedometers at a lower than normal cost.

Book Review – Not Your Parents Offering Plate

By: Rev. Jeff Silvernail (Prince of Peace, Clifton Park)

Thanks to with their “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” and the need to get to a $25 order for free shipping I became the recipient of Not Your Parents’ Offering Plate. It was money well spent. Christopher brings the perspective of a pastor (United Methodist) whose ministry led him to founding a stewardship company that works with both churches and other not-for-profits. The work with the non-church entities enabled Christopher to learn and share the insights that allow not-for-profits who don’t have weekly offerings survive and thrive. We would do well to learn. For instance, why do people give. We might sight, faith, discipleship, guilt, obligation etc. None of those work well in the not-for-profit world. There it is well known that people give for three primary reasons:

  • Belief in the mission of the organization
  • Regard for the leadership of the organization
  • Fiscal responsibility of the organization

If that drives financial giving in the 21st century, what does it mean for us in the church? How do we tell our story in a way that gives the givers the confidence and helps them find joy in investment of the mission of the church? Not Your Parents’ Offering Plate is well positioned to help us think through and address these types of questions.

Twinning Relationships – A Story

By: Rev. Dan Hoffman, Trinity, East Amherst

Do you know that you have a sister congregation in Zimbabwe? Do you know who they are, where they are located, what their community life is like? Believe it or not they are longing to be in contact with their American brothers and sisters. Yes, most of the congregations in Zimbabwe have access to the internet, but the connectivity is unreliable. Emails can take a couple of days to get through and responses sometimes take time, too. Sometimes they get lost, but the communications are wonderful.

Trinity East Amherst recently sent a digital camera to our partner parish, the Musume Lutheran Parish. We exchange photographs and stories of our ministry activities. We send our parish newsletter. We pray for each other. We share struggles and ministry challenges. Our pre-school kids share notes and stories with the preschoolers in Africa. The cost for this connection is nominal but the fruits it bears are abundant.

Take the opportunity to connect with your sister congregation. If you don’t know who they are contact Beth Walker at Start with an internet search, find their location on the map, check out the region, the economy, the national news etc. Then plan to connect!

Polar Vortex, Revisited

By: Marcia Brown, Mission Interpreter

Whether you cite the massive blizzard we just had as proof for or against global warming (that’s a whole ‘nother article!), you can’t deny that the climate around the world is changing. And there is good reason to believe that those changes are causing extreme weather, whether it’s tornadoes here in the US, or the typhoon that struck the Philippines, or drought in Africa. People living in poverty around the world are affected the most by climate change. Providing aid in the Philippines is just one example of how the ELCA is committed to supporting people around the world who live in poverty and are affected by extreme weather events. Lutheran Disaster Response has provided $1 million for cooking utensils, shelter repair kits and debris removal for survivors of Typhoon Haiyan. But the recovery will be long and the need is great. Your help is still needed. Gifts designated for this disaster will be used 100 percent to support relief efforts. To donate, see For further discussion of how the ELCA is addressing global warming, see

God’s work. Our hands.

Proclaiming Hope

This mission magazine tells the stories of just a few of the many ways lives are being made new by the power of the Holy Spirit through the ministries of the Upstate New York Synod. We hope you will be inspired by te work we do together in Jesus' name.

Questions Regarding Mission
New Mission
Lutheran Disaster Response
Social Ministry
Outreach with Young Adults
Congregational Renewal
Congregational Redevelopment
Growing Disciples
Companion Synods
Missionary Support
Theological Education
Outdoor Ministry
Campus Ministry

Download a PDF file of the entire magazine.