By: Rev. Jeff Hedin (St. Paul’s, Pittsford)
I recently read GIVE TO LIVE, How Giving Can Change Your Life by Douglas M. Lawson, Ph.D. (Copyright 1991, ALTI Publishing). The author offers a new way to look at your life. There are benefits to gain from giving, including longer life, reduced stress, stronger immune system, and a stronger heart. The book offers the experiences of people who have chosen to give of themselves in a consistent and committed way. Although many examples are dated, they can be adapted to today’s settings. Volunteerism is still on the rise.
By: Beth Walker, Global Mission Team Co-Chair
Begin the children’s sermon talking about mosquitoes. Has anyone ever been bitten by a mosquito? Explain that some mosquitos in far-away places come at night and make people sick with malaria because of their bites. The mosquitos in NY do not make people sick with malaria.
Have youth from the congregation be mosquitoes that buzz around the children saying “Bite, bite, bite”.
Shoo the mosquitos away and bring all of the children under a net.
Now the mosquitos buzz around the outside but are frustrated because they can’t get in. They finally go away. See how simple that is?
Explain that providing nets and medicine makes life much better for people in countries where malaria is present.
Email Beth Walker at the email address below for a copy of the children’s book, Nets are Nice (copy is digital).
Send pictures and stories of what your congregation has done to participate in the malaria campaign to Beth Walker at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more resources visit http://www.elca.org/Resources/ELCA-Malaria-Campaign.
By: Marcia Brown, Mission Interpreter
When Jesus was born, what if the angels hadn’t sung their Alleluias? What if the shepherds hadn’t come to see what all the fuss was about? What if the Wise Men hadn’t read the stars and found the baby? They were the missionaries of their time, spreading what they had seen and heard to anyone who would listen. Without them, Jesus might have just been one of many other babies born that year, no heavenly announcement, no rumors about a new king for Herod to worry about.
And now in our day, over 240 ELCA missionaries are heeding God’s call to share the good news of Jesus Christ in more than 40 countries. For just one example of what that looks like, read how the Rev. Justin and Kari Ellers are making a difference throughout South America. Many congregations support specific missionaries, and the mission support you send to Synod supports them too. Thank you!
God’s work. Our hands.
By: Rev. Judith VanOsdol, Director for Evangelical Mission
One of the joys of the DEM call is visiting all over our synod territory and working together with folks of faith on a variety of issues. Meeting with the United Lutheran/ Presbyterian Parish in Dolgeville, a tiny parish outside of Utica, we were conversing about the call process. This congregation has been without a called pastor for some time; three of four worship services, members rise up and give witness to their love of Jesus and how they see God at work in their lives and community.
Later in the meeting, they gave me a copy of their annual report-and I was struck to see that the first two lines of their budget was their mission support-to two different denominations! I smiled and remarked that this was indeed a mission statement-and they replied, “That gets paid first! Pastor, isn’t mission what the church is all about?”
Budgets are mission statements!
I have been privileged to work with other congregational councils who placed mission support first (yay, Christ the King, Vestal!) along with working on a narrative budget-teaching tools that help the entire congregation view their budget as a mission statement. At St. Mark’s in Baldwinsville, there are large, colorful poster boards placed around the narthex, illustrating their budget as “narrative” pieces, weeks before their annual meeting. This gives folks a chance to read, discuss, think and pray about where their giving and mission support is designated.
Do we view our budget as a mission statement-both personally and in our congregation? How can we work to prioritize our mission support-a visible sign of linking us to God’s wider mission in the whole church of which we are part? If mission support is an “afterthought” -last on the list, should we have anything left over, we make a statement that misses the joyful generosity to which we are called-giving the first fruits, beyond ourselves and our own needs to the amazing ways our Generous God is at work beyond our doors, in the wider mission of Christ’s church.
Isn’t mission what the church is all about?
By: Rev. Judith VanOsdol, Director for Evangelical Mission
God’s mission has a church, and we are part of it! All baptized believers in Jesus Christ are missionary disciples, every Pastor is a mission director, and every congregation is a mission station for the sake of the world. The church is always to be reformed, as we are in constant need of renewal.
One of the ways we are working together to address our need for renewal is through mission teams and tables. Over 50 + people have been meeting in our four Regional Renewal Teams. In one team’s early gathering, we were discussing an article indicating that around every 500 years the church undergoes a reformation. The question was raised: could we be in the midst of a new reformation?
What a joyful adventure to engage with enthusiastic, creative clergy and lay leaders who have a passion for God’s mission! Grounding our work in God’s Word and prayer, we seek to engage our congregations in a journey of transformation. The teams are expanding to include area strategies-local congregations working together to discern what God is calling them to be and do- uniting witness and service to God’s people.
We know that such ministry needs resources. We are grateful to God who provides all good gifts to carry out the mission to which we are called. To accompany the congregations in their journey there is another table focusing on Mission Support and Stewardship, that emphasizes leadership training, coaching, education, mission interpretation, etc.
Please hold these leaders, our congregations and one another in prayer, as we work together to joyfully respond to God’s call. Watch this space as the adventure unfolds! Blessings on the journey!