By Candice Hill Buchbinder, ELCA News
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s (ELCA) first comprehensive campaign, Always Being Made New: The Campaign for the ELCA, is celebrating the beginning of its fourth year with $113 million in cash gifts and gift commitments, representing 57 percent of the five-year, $198 million goal by Jan. 31, 2019.
“We said about the campaign, ‘Together we can do more.’ I think we surprised ourselves. Responding to God’s generosity, our people have also been generous. Through the campaign, we have changed lives across this church and around the globe. But our lives have been changed, too,” said the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, ELCA presiding bishop. “We have discovered that the ELCA is neither helpless nor poor and that truly with God all things are possible. Many thanks to members, congregations and synods for their faithful and adventurous participation in the campaign.”
Through the campaign, ELCA members and congregations are helping strengthen and expand the ministries of this church in four priorities – Congregations, Hunger and Poverty, Leadership and Global Church. The campaign is focused on areas that include growing this church’s communities of faith, forming new leaders, welcoming our neighbors, overcoming malaria, confronting hunger and poverty and accompanying our global churches. Gifts to these priorities are already making an impact throughout our church, including:
- Seventeen women from our global companion churches are studying at ELCA colleges, universities and seminaries, or institutions in or near their home countries through the International Women Leaders initiative.
- An expanded scholarship program within ELCA Fund for Leaders will launch this year and empower an additional 60 future leaders with full-tuition scholarships over the next three years.
- Thirteen evangelism projects – referred to as Global Ministries – were initiated with our global companion churches, including projects in South Sudan, Cambodia, Siberia, Costa Rica and Honduras.
- Twenty-one Renewing Congregations initiatives are underway providing congregations access to training, resources and research to help engage younger generations, urban populations, multicultural families and socio-economic challenged groups – and become vital centers for mission.
- More than 300 programs in the United States, as well as programs in more than 60 countries around the world, are receiving ELCA World Hunger support to help put an end to hunger.
“We are making tremendous progress because of the generosity of our members,” said the Rev. Ron Glusenkamp, director for the campaign. “Just imagine what more can be done as we continue to grow in supporting the people, communities and projects that are a priority for us. All gifts – great and small – really make the difference for our church in the world.”
In its fourth year, the campaign is focused on the Global Church priority, including Missionaries and Young Adults in Global Mission, International Women Leaders and Global Ministries. Through these programs, we are building up Christ’s church by sending missionaries and volunteers, training leaders, planting new churches and growing existing ones.
“2017 marks the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s Protestant Reformation. Lutherans around the world are observing and living into their Lutheran traditions like never before,” said Andrew Steele, director of ELCA Global Church Sponsorship. “And, because of the generosity of ELCA members across this church, we are able to walk alongside our brothers and sisters during this exciting time.”
The Global Church theme year began with an emphasis on International Women’s Day earlier this month, which raised awareness and support of the International Women Leaders initiative. In June, congregations will celebrate our Global Ministries on Pentecost Sunday, and in October, the church will lift up the Missionaries and Young Adults in Global Mission program through Global Church Sunday.
“This year, we are celebrating what it means to be a part of the global Lutheran community, learning from the growing Lutheran community around the world and giving thanks for the amazing work God is doing through us and through our companions,” said Steele.
Through several featured priorities, The Campaign for the ELCA seeks to:
- increase this church’s capacity to support congregational renewal and the planting of new congregations;
- form and support new lay, ordained and global leaders for mission;
- encourage and form lay youth and young adult leaders;
- support the ELCA’s disability ministry;
- bolster our commitment to walk with global companion churches in shared witness; and
- expand our efforts to address poverty and hunger.
Information about The Campaign for the ELCA is available at ELCA.org/campaign.