By The Rev. Ozzie Herlong

South Carolina Synod First Call Theological Education roster ministers attended the Stewardship Event, Stewardship at the Heart of Life, on February 5-7, 2018, at Lutheranch, Tallapoosa, Georgia.

The event is held every three-years and assists new rostered ministers in Region 9 Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in embracing practical and spiritual dimensions of their personal stewardship journey, understanding the role of steward leader in the congregation, developing skills as steward leader, and building peer relationships for ongoing encouragement and support in the journey ahead.

The bishops of Region 9 Evangelical Lutheran Church in America served as leaders for the event with each of four bishop’s present offering a personal perspective on one of the competencies for a well-formed stewardship leader. The Rev. Paul Aebischer, Portico Benefit Services and the Rev. Ruth Hamilton, Candidacy – Leadership Manager, Region 9 ELCA, also made presentations. The six competencies of a well-formed stewardship leader addressed included: Trusting in God’s Abundance, Embraces Financial Health as Expression of Faith, Engages and Critiques Culture, Perceives Connectedness, Grounds Oneself in Biblical and Theological Principles, and Holds a Wholistic Perspective. The Rev. Wm Chris Boerger served as the facilitator for the event and made a presentation on the Role of Rostered Minister as Steward Leader.

Bishop Herman Yoos preached the sermon titled In Joy and Thanksgiving at Holden Evening Prayer on Tuesday. Bishop Yoos challenged rostered ministers in his sermon with the question: “What is the connection between your sense of gratitude to God for the gift of his son Jesus Christ and his daily gift of forgiveness, grace and new life and your personal need to give back to God of yourself, your time and your possessions?

First Call Theological Education rostered ministers from the Caribbean Synod also attended. Rev. Vivian Davila, Pastor, Sion Evangelical Lutheran Church, Bayamon, Puerto Rico, addressed the group on the question, “What does it mean to trust in God’s abundance following hurricanes in the Caribbean Synod’? Pastor Davila told the story of the widow of Zarephath from I Kings 17:10-16. Hunger was widespread in the region of Zarephath and she was about to cook the last meal for her and her son with the last bit of flour and a few drops of oil when a stranger asked her for something to eat. The stranger to to be fed first because the Lord God of Israel will make sure you and your son have enough as long as the famine last. God provided for her and her son and Elijah. Like the widow of Zarephath Pastor Davila, having little water for herself and her family thought “I can’t go on giving my water away. I am going to run out”. A phone call came from a friend who offered water. The water never ran out and she was able to share with friends and strangers. Weeks later Pastor Davila said, “The more we gave away the more came in. We were able to feed everyone who came to our door friend or stranger…with God’s great abundance and unfailing provision he showed us his hand of blessing.” The offerings received at the event totaled $1,781 and were designated as a Love Offering for Hurricane Relief in the Caribbean Synod.

A total of 71 leaders, rostered ministers and spouses attended the event with fifteen leaders and rostered ministers from the South Carolina Synod.

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