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

Tag Archives: stewardship

With Joy and Thanksgiving

By: Rev. Judith VanOsdol, Director for Evangelical Mission

Stewardship is an ethic that embodies the responsible planning and careful management of resources entrusted to one’s care. In other words, stewardship means to administer and care for what does not, finally, belong to us.

Although we say, “my family, my home, my church….” all these (along with all things, including our own lives) belong to God. Stewardship (including our relationship with money and “stuff”) is a deeply spiritual issue. A careful study of our budget and checkbook will reveal what our “mission statement” really is!

Stewardship starts with a joyful attitude of gratitude and thanksgiving for all the gifts God has entrusted to our care. God is able to do amazing things through our giving. We make a difference when we walk together!

If you have experienced an impact through work with your Bishop, Dean, synod staff, call process, candidacy, conflict and healing team, mission teams, Congregational Vitality Assessment (CVA), etc., this is your mission support returning to your congregation! Over 90 congregations in Upstate New York are using the CVA for mission planning and health.

Lutheran Disaster Relief is another example of your mission support that has had a powerful impact in our Synod. Last summer you helped make a difference in the lives of 53 children impacted by natural disaster in their lives. Camp Noah provided a safe place for these children to have fun and process their experience of trauma and flooding in their homes.

Your mission support also helps to change lives throughout the world, supporting leadership training, education, new and renewing congregations, outdoor and campus ministry, hunger and poverty relief, global mission, malaria prevention and disaster response. Since 2009, malaria in Africa has been reduced by over a half a million cases, saving countless lives. Your mission support is directly addressing the Ebola outbreak. See our Presiding Bishop’s letter on the life giving work we are doing together as the church.

Thank you for your generous giving of Synodical mission support that makes possible our shared mission in Christ Jesus. Please prayerfully consider an increase in giving by your congregation-either in an estimated amount or in percentage giving of your mission budget. You might consider moving toward a tithe (10% of the congregation’s mission budget) or even beyond a tithe.

We trust in God’s amazing grace-that God will continue to bless and guide us on our shared faith journey. Your congregation’s continuing mission support furthers God’s mission across our Synod and throughout the World. It is God’s work-through our hands.

The Synod Challenge letter has been sent out to all congregations. The electronic form for the Statement of Intent, along with a letter from our presiding Bishop is available to download. Please return your completed Statement of Intent for Mission Support for 2015 to the Synod Office, either electronically or by regular mail as soon as possible to 5811 Heritage Landing Drive, First Floor, East Syracuse, NY 13057.

Fearless Generosity: of Stewardship and Stuff

By Rev. Judith VanOsdol, Director for Evangelical Mission

“…So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.” Luke 12:21

Our relationship with money and “stuff” is deeply spiritual. The root of the word miserable is “miser”- one who is unable to give.

The rich man in Jesus’ parable of the “rich fool” (Luke 12: 13-21) speaks only to himself. He has no one with whom to share his own thoughts, not even God, showing a real poverty of relationships. His solution to having “too much stuff” was to tear down his barns to build bigger ones, forgetting that all things, including his own life, belong to God. The parable could’ve ended differently had he prayed: “Hey God, I have a bumper crop this year; do you have any hungry folks around who need some food?”

It is often difficult for us to talk about our anxious and often addictive relationship with money and “stuff.” All that we have is God’s and as stewards of God’s possessions we are called to live out, “embody” fearless generosity. Stewardship is NOT fundraising, but calls us to examine the deeply spiritual aspect of our living and giving, our relationship with God, with one another, with God’s mission in the world and, yes, with God’s stuff!

We give thanks for generous givers who embody fearless generosity with faith grounded in Christ, pure gift of our extravagantly generous God. (Read the full article in this month’s Lutheran Magazine Synod Insert – page “B”.)

Our stewardship team would like to know whether any of the many materials that have been sent to congregations were useful and/or helpful. Can you please take a minute to answer a few questions regarding your congregation’s use of some of these stewardship materials? Thank you!

Take the survey here.

Extra Mile Giving

By: Rev. Marie C. Jerge, bishop

The major part of the work that is done in the synod is funded through Mission Support (what used to be called Benevolence). These are the resources that are sent by congregations and individuals for the support of the regular operating and program expenses. In the Upstate New York Synod this amounted to a little over $1.2 million in the fiscal year ending Jan. 31, 2014. This is the “bread and butter” of our work together as a synod and the churchwide organization. At this time 42% of everything the synod receives from congregations is shared with the churchwide organization. The rest funds our operational budget and many programs and ministries.

However, we received over $200,000 in 2013 in special giving to specific ministries. Below is a list of some of the gifts that have come through the synod office this year. Many additional gifts are sent directly to other organizations, so this is only a fraction of what the total giving is, but you should know of the generosity of the people of the Upstate New York Synod. Check out the treasurer’s report in the Synod Assembly packet for the complete listing. (Numbers below are pre-audit.)

  • Bishop’s Discretionary Fund – $3,236.95
  • Global Mission and Missionary Support – $10,585.09
  • World Hunger – $107,801.40
  • ELCA Disaster Response – $ 35,107.69 (this includes domestic, international & general)
  • Lutheran World Relief – $3,225.00
  • Lake Chautauqua Lutheran Center – $4,763.28
  • Vanderkamp – $666.75
  • Malaria Campaign – $5,917.69
  • New York State Floods – $1,592.00
  • Lutheran Homes Foundation – $1,520.00
  • Lutheran Homes, Clinton – $3,557.00
  • Campus Ministry – $2,848.00
  • Philadelphia Seminary – $423.88
  • Zambia – $13,000
  • Zimbabwe – $7,550.09
  • Lutheran Association of Missionary & Pilots – $220

Give to Live: A Stewardship Book Review

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.

Budget As A Mission Statement

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?