Between 2017 and 2019, NW WA Synod's Because of You campaign seeks to raise $3 million in current and deferred gifts, all over and above congregations' annual ministry support.Learn more
In order to renew our congregations in their ability to reach their own communities and neighborhoods, we want to provide tools for congregational lay people to become more involved in the life of their neighbors and communities. We need to raise up specialized leaders and pay for training experiences that will transform how we “do church” in our localities, for the sake of our neighbors.
An unfortunate effect of rapid growth and change in our communities is that many congregations are in decline and are struggling to find their way in this new world. “Living Local” is one of the primary ways existing congregations and ministries will find new hope and discover new partnerships in their own neighborhoods. Through the process of awareness, reflection, imagination and involvement — led by trained guides — congregations will once again find ways to become known and change perceptions through vital relationships in their ministry areas.
Establish New Ministries
Because of You, we will be able to plant “experimental” new ministries which will be focused on underserved populations in our Synod, such as ethnic communities and young adults. Many of these are already underway in our Asian, African and young adult communities in Seattle, Bellingham and Kirkland. Our rapidly changing area means that we don't necessarily have tried and true models for engaging with these emerging communities, and that is why they are called “experimental” new starts.
In the NW WA Synod we have 25 new starts with that number staying fairly constant as some end their mission status and become organized and other new ones are started. The Churchwide ELCA is a tremendous partner in these new starts, but more and more, synods are having to pick up more of the expenses of congregations under development. We are looking to raise $1,400,000 to fund these new starts for 5-6 years.
Raise Up and Support Leaders
This urgent need can't be overstated. We need theologically trained pastors and deacons who are also equipped to lead congregations in this changing world. At one time, the church took on the costs of educating rostered ministers in the Lutheran church. The financial burden for training to serve our congregations has now shifted to the candidates for ministry.
In 2013, 84% of Master of Divinity graduates from ELCA seminaries had theological education debt, with the average debt per graduate being $41,484. On top of this seminary debt, nearly half of the graduates had debt from their undergraduate education.
The problem lies in that we need first-call pastors (25 in the next ten years) to serve in great ministry settings which cannot provide the kind of financial support these new leaders need. “Forgive us our debts,” has become a real prayer for many of these graduates.
Always Being Made New
The new ELCA campaign is also raising funds to raise up and support new leaders and to equip them to be effective ministers in changing and emerging ministries. This campaign also provides funds for ELCA World Hunger, which helps people around the world who are either starving or food insecure. Nearly 800 million people in our world fall into that awful statistic, including many millions in our own nation. Did you know there are more than 240 ELCA missionaries, including more than 80 young adults, serving in more than 40 countries around the world? This is another important cause Always Being Made New helps to support, as well as many other major worldwide initiatives such as our efforts to stop Malaria, help lift up Women and empower people with disabilities.
A tithe (10%) of all unrestricted gifts will go to this campaign for the ELCA, Always Being Made New.