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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Congregations in tough economic times

The economic climate pushes the church to be clear about mission

Describing the global economic crisis as the most "troubling time we've seen since the Great Depression," John Kapanke, president of the ELCA Board of Pensions , said, "People have a good reason to be concerned and careful on how they spend and give."

William C. Ridenhour
William C. Ridenhour, pastor of First English Lutheran Church, Wheeling, W. Va., holds the congregation's offering plate.

The 24-hour news cycle and "constant bombardment" of information makes the situation seem so dire, said E. Roy Riley, bishop of the ELCA New Jersey Synod. "You have people looking hour by hour at their own 401(k) and stock portfolios that two decades ago simply wouldn't have," he said. "Just watching the market go up and down creates its own anxiety."

After Sept. 11, 2001, ELCA congregations saw increases in attendance and giving, said Craig Settlage, director for mission support with ELCA Synodical Relations. "We don't want disasters to occur," he said. "But when faced with a very difficult situation, we realize what is central in our lives: our families, our church and our communities. I don't imagine things to be better than they are. But I'm also a person of hope. I believe whatever we face, the ELCA will be a strong church."


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