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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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October 8, 2009

As for me and my church, we'll stay AND give!


There’s plenty of talk in the ELCA these days about money. Oh yes, and church decisions regarding sexuality. The two seem tightly knit. Congregations and members dissatisfied with decisions made by the 2009 Churchwide Assembly talk of leaving—or at the very least withholding funds normally sent beyond their church walls.

Thoughtful essays making the rounds on Facebook and e-mail urge people to continue giving, and offer helpful reflection on the value of giving to the church—not based on what we agree or disagree about, but because it’s Christ’s church and there’s work to be done.

Yes, the numbers that continue to be crunched at churchwide, in synod offices and in congregations of all sizes are partly the result of CWA decisions. But let’s not forget, they are also the result of a troubled economy.

I don’t know that the CWA actions are going to affect the weekly giving/pledge of most ELCA members. In fact, in my little urban congregation that feels great joy about the changes being made, it may even increase. Chicago Area Synod mission support gifts for September exceeded the gifts of last September by $33,889, and our year-to-date mission support has exceeded last year’s by $38,341.

But the speculation and fear of the loss of mission support is looming and there’s already evidence that it’s very real. Colleagues at Higgins Road, and beyond, will surely feel the effects of decreased giving. Many will lose jobs, and those left behind will have depleted budgets with which to work. And surely the ripple effect could be catastrophic: a lack of people and funds to do the work so desperately needed in our hurting, hungry world.

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