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 completion of its second year with $80 million in cash gifts and gift commitments, representing 40 percent of the five-year, $198 million goal by Jan. 31, 2019. In addition, the ELCA has received another $17 million in planned gifts commitments to the priorities of the campaign.
“This is exciting news about the campaign. At a time when people are concerned about contracting resources, we see the generosity of our members expanding,” said the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, ELCA presiding bishop. “At a time when some wonder if the church has the capacity to be engaged in the world, we are actually extending our work. Truly, together we can do more.”
Launched Feb. 1, 2014, the campaign seeks to raise $198 million to help sustain and expand the ministries of this church through four priorities – Congregations, Hunger and Poverty, Leadership and Global Church. The additional resources will help our church grow our communities of faith, form new leaders, welcome our neighbors, overcome malaria, confront hunger and poverty, accompany our global churches and so much more.
Already, gifts to the campaign are making an impact throughout our church:
- Twenty-one new or enhanced ministries with ELCA youth and young adults received funding to expand current efforts or launch new initiatives.
- ELCA and local partners broke ground on a new Lutheran Center in Juba, South Sudan, as part of the Global Ministry project, South Sudan: A New Church for a New Nation. The groundbreaking signified the beginning of a project to establish the Evangelical Lutheran Church Africa Mission in South Sudan.
- The campaign’s Renewing Congregations priority distributed 17 grants to synods and congregations across the ELCA. This includes 11 Synodical Renewing Congregations strategies, four fast-growth congregations and two area-ministry strategies.
- ELCA World Hunger experienced its second year of growth, expanding work in 10 countries, including the United States.
“A campaign is a marathon. There is the starting line, which is accompanied by fanfare and applause, and there is the finish line, which in our case is the $198 million goal. Right now, we are in the middle of this marathon,” said the Rev. Ron Glusenkamp, director for the campaign. “In the midst of this campaign, we are giving thanks to God for all the connecting lines that make this church and this effort so amazing. No matter what your passion is, whether it’s leadership, congregations, responding to hunger and poverty or our global church, we are learning that we can do more together.”
In its third year, the campaign is focused on the Hunger and Poverty priority with ELCA World Hunger. A signature ministry of the ELCA, ELCA World Hunger works to end hunger and poverty in the United States and around the world through a comprehensive approach and unparalleled worldwide network of individuals, congregations, companion churches and partners in nearly 60 countries.
“Over the decades, the rate of extreme hunger in the world has been cut by almost 60 percent, and realized hunger in the United States has been reduced dramatically. In many ways, the work of the ELCA has been at the forefront and set an example from which many others have learned,” said the Rev. Dan Rift, director for ELCA World Hunger and Disaster Appeal. “Growing ELCA World Hunger as part of the campaign comes at a moment when some of the overall gains in overcoming hunger are being undone by new challenges. It seems that an emphasis on ELCA World Hunger this year comes at exactly the time when it is needed most.”
Kicking off the campaign’s year-of-emphasis was ELCA World Hunger’s 40 Days of Giving, a special Lenten initiative to heighten awareness of and support for this ministry and its work throughout the world. In total, more than 500 congregations registered as participants in the initiative with an overall fundraising goal of $2 million for ELCA World Hunger.
“This special effort has been, first and foremost, about heart and soul. It has been about celebrating the ways God has entered into the challenges of our times and holding on to the promise that God has bestowed as we strive in ministry together,” said Rift.
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
- Expand our efforts to address poverty and hunger
Information about The Campaign for the ELCA is available at ELCA.org/campaign.