June 3, 2020
In the midst of the virus, we continue to celebrate God’s abundance!
Our Synod recently distributed COVID-19 Grants in the amount of $40K ($30K from our Strategic Initiatives Fund and $10K from an ELCA Grant) to congregations most in need. These grants are intended to ensure that the rostered minister’s salary/benefits can be paid so that other congregational funds can be used for ministry. The synod funding comes from Holy Closures – congregations who have made the incredibly difficult decision to close, yet their legacy will now continue through other ministries in the synod. God’s work always carries on in new and beautiful ways.
Twelve of the fourteen congregations receiving financial support are our multicultural ministries. One of the recipients cried when she was told the congregation would receive a grant. Another said that the congregation council was meeting the next day to discuss terminating their support of a food ministry due to lack of funding – a discussion no longer needed. Another said “Thank you! Thank You! Thank you! God is so Good. We are grateful and appreciate the Synod and the Synod Council for all the work that they do. I will share with the congregation on Saturday. Thanks for your support. Thank you!”
Along with other synods in Region 9, we’ve also supplemented a Lilly grant and over the next three years this LifeLine Fund will provide up to $80K in financial support for rostered ministers plus training and support for congregations who need stewardship assistance. In the ELCA, 83 percent of the seminary graduates averaged an education debt of over $46K. With a median defined compensation of $50K for a first-call pastor, you can do the math and it is not pretty. For congregations, financial support will be provided to participate in either Stewardship for All Seasons or Cultivating Generous Congregations. These year-long programs teach pastors and congregation leaders how to design and carry out their own year-round biblically-based stewardship program. Results have seen, on average, a 15% increase in new giving as well as transitioning congregational culture from scarcity to abundance. Congregations will come together as part of a cohort, traveling the road to financial stability together.
Just last week, we were also notified of a $4900 grant from SOLI, Stewardship Of Life Institute. This will be spent in the middle space, providing stewardship assistance for those congregations beginning to work on stewardship but not ready for the yearlong commitments the other programs require.
Please contact Rev. Karen Boda (email@example.com) for more information. Resources are available to help congregations and rostered leaders. God is good!