LCMS World Mission presented its 2009 Ablaze! Awards Nov. 18 in Tampa, Fla. The awards recognize the efforts of individuals and groups in furthering the goal of Ablaze! — to share the Gospel with 100 million “unreached and uncommitted” people by 2017, the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.
This year’s winners are:
- Rev. James Keurulainen, president of the Synod’s New England District, and the New England District. Keurulainen and the district received the Executive Director’s Ablaze! Award, which is given annually to a district president who “exemplifies a heart for sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with unreached and uncommitted people through active involvement in the Ablaze! movement.”
Keurulainen and his district’s staff, congregations, schools, and members were cited for their “tireless” work in a region that ranks as one of the most unchurched areas of the country.
“Under Keurulainen’s leadership, the New England District has set courageous goals to involve 50 percent of their congregations in the revitalization process and 60 to 75 percent of pastors in local learning communities,” LCMS World Mission said in a news release. “The district is intentionally working to assist its congregations in becoming active mission outposts of the Gospel.”
- Dr. Robert Scudieri, former associate executive director of LCMS World Mission who retired earlier this year. Scudieri received the LCMS World Mission Ablaze! Vision Award for demonstrating the Ablaze! vision of “creatively identifying the lost and reaching them with the Good News of Jesus.”
“Bob has demonstrated this vision throughout his career in ministry — as a parish pastor, district mission executive, and most recently a synodical executive … — in exemplifying innovation and creativity for developing faith-sharing tools and techniques,” according to LCMS World Mission. “Specifically, Bob has provided leadership for the Center for U.S. Mission, Open Arms Institute, Apple of His Eye Ministry, and the Mission Partners Conference. We give thanks to God for Bob’s faithful service and leadership.”
- The Lutheran Women’s Missionary League. The LWML received the LCMS World Mission Ablaze! Partners Award, which honors an LCMS World Mission national or international partner that “demonstrates a heart for reaching out with the Gospel by pursuing the goals of the Ablaze! movement in its daily ministry activities.”
The LCMS women’s auxiliary was honored for its “overall support for Ablaze!, as well as the generous contributions to support outreach in local, regional, national, and international mission fields,” according to LCMS World Mission. “Members of the LWML have given faithfully — not only financially, but also of themselves — to plant seeds of faith in those around them.”
In June, delegates to the LWML’s 33rd Biennial Convention adopted a new mission goal of $1.825 million for the 2009-11 biennium. It is the largest in the organization’s 67-year history and will fund a record 19 mission grants.
“Additionally, in February 2008, LWML President Jan Wendorf issued a challenge to all LWML districts to send two teams each on short-term mission trips over the next few years,” adds LCMS World Mission.
Wendorf accepted the award on behalf of the LWML. Also attending were former LWML presidents Betty Duda (who served from 1987 to 1991), Gloria Edwards (1995-99), Virginia Von Seggern (1999-03), and Linda Reiser (2003-07).
To learn more about Ablaze!, visit the Web site of LCMS World Mission at www.lcmsworldmission.org and click on “Ablaze!” in the left-hand menu.
Posted Dec. 16, 2009