Conversations with ELCA churchwide executives reveal challenges faced by several ministries for lack of sufficient mission support. This list is representative, not exhaustive.
• "Mission in general and global mission in particular has been at the core of our life as a church. What's at stake is that core," says Rafael Malpica Padilla, executive director of the Division for Global Mission.
The division hasn't called missionaries home from their assignments — 305 serve in various places — but 10 positions planned for recruitment this year can't be filled. Western Africa especially will feel the impact because of the need for leadership development after recent wars.
"Lutheran membership in Africa increased by 9.6 percent [in 2003]," Malpica Padilla says. "The highest percentage was in the Lutheran Church in Rwanda. They asked the ELCA to enter a formal relationship [that involves sharing staff and supporting programs]. I don't have the human or financial resources to say to these churches, 'Yes, we will walk with you' — not even for the fastest growing church in Africa." It must wait, along with 23 other developing Lutheran churches seeking formal partnership.
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