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

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Proclaiming Hope: Outdoor Ministry

IMG_2220Best friends, exciting adventures, faith formation and leadership development are all part of outdoor ministry in Upstate New York.

Vanderkamp’s community farming project partners with area businesses to plant an acre of organic vegetables. Last year half were used in the camp kitchen and half donated to local food banks-more than 2,400 pounds of produce raised altogether-through campers and local volunteers!

Lake Chautauqua Lutheran Center partners with the Rochester Area Interfaith Hospitality Network (RAIHN-a ministry of temporary housing for homeless families) to send homeless youth to camp. Youth from RAIHN face violence, drugs, dropping out of school, and a lack of positive role models in their lives. Their camp experience can be life-changing. For example, two LCLC youth from RAIHN are now considering college.

In the Hudson-Mohawk Conference’s Confirmation camp, Luther’s Small Catechism appears atop Blue Mountain or in a kayak on Lake Pleasant as conference pastors, deacons and parents journey into the Adirondacks for an unforgettable week of instruction in the midst of God’s creation. At Senior High camp, young adults come together for a week of intense faith formation.

One former camper, now staff, writes: “I have been partaking in camp ever since the first year of Confirmation camp. I’ve met people from all different backgrounds who have shared their life events with me and I with them. I have been through a lot in my life and camp has grounded me each year, giving me a place to recharge, surrounded by a spiritual, judgment-free zone.”

Thanks to you, young people return from camp renewed in their faith, equipped with leadership skills and excited about the mission of the church.

Proclaiming Hope: Questions Regarding Mission

missionsupport1-proclaiminghopeQ. What is Mission Support? I have heard this term used, but I am not sure what it means.

A. Mission Support is the portion of your financial offering that your congregation shares with the synod and churchwide ministries-the other two expressions of this church. As members of the ELCA, we do mission together through our financial giving. Together we do God’s work in ways that no individual congregation can do alone, including:

  • Identifying, training and nurturing leaders
  • Developing mission strategies
  • Supporting camps, campus ministries and seminaries
  • Providing resources for developing and transforming congregations
  • Walking with congregations and leaders in transition
  • Working with global, ecumenical, and social ministry partners
  • Responding to disaster, world hunger and social justice issues

missionsupport2-proclaiminghopeQ. How does my congregation benefit from Mission Support?

A. More than one-half of your Mission Support funds the work of the synod. The rest is forwarded to the churchwide offices for support for wider mission. Every congregation benefits by knowing that they are part of this larger mission beyond the local congregation. Direct impact on congregations is evident in the work of the Director for Evangelical Mission, Pastor Judith VanOsdol, disaster response in upstate NY communities as well as mission trips, theological education and training for pastors and other leaders, ministries with youth and young adults through camps, campus ministries, youth gatherings, and programs like Project Connect, the work of the synod staff, deans, and the Conflict and Healing Team, the training of deacons, and outreach grants to congregations and new missions, to name just a few.

missionsupport3-proclaiminghopeQ. Is Mission Support different from my weekly offering?

A. Mission Support is a small percentage of your weekly offering. It’s best described as that part of your gift that is shared with the other two expressions of this church-your synod and churchwide ministries-to fund the work of the broader church. Many synods set a goal of 10 percent or greater from each of their congregations.

The rest of your offering (about 90 percent) remains within your congregation. You help pay for local ministries, outreach, salaries, administrative and building expenses, ensuring your congregation’s vital presence in your community.