HOUSTON—The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod Convention honored three of its congregations July 14 for outstanding work to raise funds for the Synod’s Fan into Flame campaign in support of Ablaze! mission initiatives.
Honored were leaders and members of Mountainside Lutheran Church, Linville, N.C.; Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Springfield, Va.; and First Immanuel Lutheran Church, Cedarburg, Wis.
The 64th Regular Convention of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod is meeting July 10-17 at the George R. Brown Convention Center under the theme “ONE People–Forgiven.” Among the approximately 3,000 participants are some 1,200 clergy and lay voting delegates.
Fan into Flame funds support Ablaze! initiatives to plant 2,000 new congregations, renew the mission vision of 2,000 existing congregations, increase by 50 percent the number of career missionaries, and increase support for the Synod’s 34 partner churches around the world.
Dr. William R. Diekelman, first vice-president of the Synod, reported that as of July 1, gifts and pledges to the campaign amounted to more than $58.9 million.
Campaign gifts are distributed to new outreach ministry in four categories: local community outreach by congregations; regional outreach by LCMS districts; national outreach, church planting and revitalization ministry; and international outreach through missionaries and partner churches.
The three congregations were recognized for raising the most funds in various membership categories, said Dr. Thomas R. Zehnder, executive director of the LCMS Board for Mission Services.
- Mountainside Lutheran Church: The congregation, with 54 baptized members, was formed only five years ago and uses a church building at Camp Linn Haven. Members far exceeded a Fan into Flame goal by raising $279,000, Zehnder said.
Together with its own funds, Mountainside recently received a $900 grant from the Fan into Flame campaign to help purchase a refrigerator/freezer for Volunteer Avery, a social-service agency that provides food to needy people in Avery County, according to the congregation’s website. Donors can now provide perishable items for distribution through the ministry—items it could not accept before.
- Prince of Peace Lutheran Church: Members established a goal for themselves that each member should aim for seven “critical events” each year. A critical event occurs when one member witnesses about Jesus, and the hope that is within him or her, to another person, so that person may encounter Christ.
In Phase I of its Ablaze! fundraising effort, Prince of Peace reported it had recorded more 600 critical events and exceeded its goal of raising $185,000 to support Ablaze! Phase 2 placed more emphasis on “mission to our neighbors.” To date, the congregation has raised $410,000 for Fan into Flame, and has focused on church planting, including an Ethiopian community, Zehnder said. Prince of Peace has an average worship attendance of 620, he said.
- First Immanuel Lutheran Church and School: The congregation has an average worship attendance of 1,100 people. First Immanuel was a pilot congregation for Fan into Flame, raising more than $550,000, exceeding its $150,000 goal. To date it has raised more than $1 million for Fan into Flame, Zehnder said. First Immanuel designated a small portion of its funds for members to attend short-term foreign mission trips, tuition vouchers to allow families to attend the congregation’s day school, programs to care for local senior citizens and equipping members to reach out to others with the Gospel.
“At this convention, we are recognizing congregations whom the Lord has extraordinarily blessed,” said LCMS President Dr. Gerald B. Kieschnick. “I can see that these people are excited about what’s going on in their congregations.” He presented each congregation with a plaque in recognition of their efforts.
The convention also recognized the LCMS district presidents for the grassroots efforts with congregations to raise funds for the Ablaze! initiative.
Posted July 14, 2010