November 8, 2011
Mission support update
Craig Settlage, ELCA director for mission support, said he sees signs of stronger mission support from congregations. "By the end of September, 19 ELCA synods had increased mission support shared with churchwide ministries over the previous September, while 46 synods had decreased mission support for that period," he told The Lutheran.
Congregations send mission support to synods, which on average share 49 percent (the range is 31 to 57 percent) with churchwide ministries. On average, synods receive 5 percent (the range is 3.1 to 10 percent, depending on the synod) of overall congregational giving as mission support. In any synod, Settlage said, there will be some congregations that for whatever reason give no mission support, while others give a generous 18 percent.
Where does that mission support go? "In 2011, mission support helped the ELCA plant 60 new congregations, begin renewal of 163 congregations, provide congregations with $2.5 million in grants, support 240 missionaries, fund mission projects in 90 countries, and continue support of ELCA colleges, seminaries and more," Settlage said.
But there is cause for concern given what is happening across U.S. denominations, Settlage said. "The trend is toward many congregations making more designated gifts to local ministries, companion synods or ELCA hunger efforts," he said. "Those efforts all deserve our support, but we need to take care to not lose our foundational support, which would diminish our capacity to plant new congregations, provide the infrastructure for hunger and disaster response, support global companions and more."