I love my congregation. It includes a diverse group of people who have a heart for mission — and their contributions show it. So I was a bit concerned when I heard some of the most faithful leaders talking about reducing our congregational commitment to benevolence. The reason? Because the ELCA Churchwide Assembly is voting on a sensitive, biblically charged issue in August.
My question was: How do I hold things together? Well, that was a silly thought. Me? Hold things together? Right. Rather than get into the middle of that mess, I decided all I can do is point to Jesus and his mission in the world through the church — and leave the hard part to the Spirit.
To educate myself about the mission emphasis of the ELCA churchwide organization, I looked at the 2009 proposed budget online at www.elca.org. I was astounded. And so proud. Of the $1.9 billion given for benevolence in ELCA congregations, 93 percent goes to local mission and ministry in congregations. Of the remaining 7 percent, half is shared with synods and half with churchwide. Less than 0.36 percent is budgeted for anything connected with social statements. I saw that in a time of economic downturn, our church’s support for world hunger is increasing.
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