Worship means “a show of reverence and adoration for God.” We believe that all of Assembly is worship. We gather as the body to share and celebrate God’s work among us, we give thanks for the ways in which God continues to move through the people and work of the Synod, and we discern where God is calling us next, all while giving praise.
As part of our time and worship together, both in the business of Synod Assembly as well as our more traditional expressions of worship, we will have a time for offering. This year, the offering received during the 2023 South Carolina Synod Assembly will be designated for the Lifeline Fund. The Lifeline Fund helps address the economic challenges facing our rostered ministers from student loans taken out to pay for their seminary education. Since 2020, through the Lifeline Fund, with matching grants from the Lilly Foundation, we have paid $164,989 to education lenders to eliminate the education debt of nine rostered ministers and a significant portion of debt for two other rostered ministers. In fact, the cumulative reduction in educational debt for our pastors and deacons provided by Lifeline grants is over 85 years of education debt payments eliminated.
Your generosity furthers this mission. It is tangible grace and love, sent directly to lenders, to pay down education debt. Read below what three rostered ministers said about the impact these grants provide:
“Because of your team’s ministry, I can begin to breathe! I can see a light! It is an elimination of seminary debt that was paralyzing me. Without you, I would not be seeing this light!”
“I have experienced the grace and love of God in a transformational way through the ministry of the Lifeline Fund. The gifts you have given us are hope and a relief.”
“The Lifeline Fund helped to relieve a huge burden for us, allowing us to better care for our family, be a healthier leader in the church, and share the fruit of these gifts with the world.”
When this burden is lifted, we firmly believe it means more effective servants. More available pastors! More energized deacons! More prepared to fulfill their life’s calling! All Lifeline grant recipients must complete financial management education as well as make monthly debt reduction payments. All of this helps establish the disciplines to steward a healthier future.
In worship, the offering is a time to give “reverence and adoration to God.” It’s a time to worship and give thanks for God’s goodness and, in the case of worship at Synod Assembly, to know that you are supporting leaders across our Synod live more fully into their calling without the financial burden of this life of service.
We encourage congregations to take up a special offering between now and Assembly for the voting members from your congregation to bring to Columbia with them! Below are some ways you could get creative with your offering:
- Designate a Sunday’s worship service offering. Oftentimes people will do this for any 5th Sundays in a month, and April 30th is a 5th Sunday between now and Assembly and might be a great choice!
- Take up a “noisy offering” throughout the month of May where people are encouraged to donate their spare change. It adds up quickly!
- Have your church council set a goal and create a visual for the narthex so the congregation can see how they’re doing.
- Share the story. This is more than just an organization and a fund to give to, this is people. Share the story of the gift this fund can be to the recipients and allow the Spirit to move through your congregation to give generously.
Our time together June 8th-10th in downtown Columbia is a time to gather, fellowship, share, and most importantly, through it all, to worship. The offerings brought forward to Assembly for the Lifeline fund are a way for the worship that is experienced together to have a reach far beyond our finite time.