By Roger Drinnon
As part of the Synod’s efforts leading up to the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, $1 million was awarded recently in “Stand With Your Community” (SWYC) grants for Lutherans to engage in local witness and mercy outreach — a reflection of Martin Luther’s passion for all to know the true Gospel.
It’s Still All About Jesus
“I was impressed frankly with the ingenuity, creativity and compassion revealed in so many project designs. Witness and mercy were wed together with a clear focus on outreach to those who needed to hear about Jesus,” said the Rev. Randall Golter, special assistant to the LCMS president for “Reformation 2017: It’s Still All About Jesus.” In this role, Golter is responsible for leading the Synod in coordinating and planning for the 2017 Reformation-anniversary celebration. “It was clear by the project designs that people wanted to honor the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation by telling people about Jesus. It still is all about Jesus,” he said.
Really tough choices
Golter said that 512 grant applications were received for various worthwhile domestic projects, which made it extremely difficult to select the projects that would receive the grants. He said selection considerations included laity involvement, partnerships with other organizations and the applicant’s ability to explain how the project reflected the intended purpose of the SWYC grants.
“We had so many excellent applicants, which made the selection process extremely difficult, leaving many grants unfortunately unfunded,” said Golter. “The total [requested] from the 512 grant applicants was more than $8.3 million, and we only had $1 million to give.”
“It was a true joy to be a part of the SWYC grant-review process. Over the years I have had the opportunity to read and consider many worthy projects in need of grant funding,” said the Rev. Bart Day, executive director of the Synod’s Office of National Mission. “I understand that many are disappointed because we simply did not have enough dollars to fund all the great projects that we reviewed. My prayer is that congregations will press forward and still do this work in creative ways. 2017 will give us a unique moment in history to lift up the Gospel rediscovered in the Reformation and proclaimed and lived among us today. I pray the funded projects will encourage others in our continued life together.”
In addition to congregations and specific groups within congregations — LCMS circuits, LCMS elementary and high schools, LCMS universities, districts and Recognized Service Organizations also were eligible.
Golter said some examples of selected projects range from a single event like a “Single Moms’ Day Out” to “Laundry Love” — a partnership with a local laundry facility to wash clothes for impoverished families. Other examples include care and outreach for military veterans, funding for a local youth soccer field, outreach to French-speaking African immigrants and refurbishing houses in a low-income neighborhood. All selected projects included elements of networking, fellowship and mercy, and projects will be spotlighted in upcoming articles for Reporter and Reporter Online.
The grants were awarded as $1,000 to $25,000 per selected applicant, depending on the scope and duration of the proposed project. Funding for the grants was provided through a partnership between the LCMS, Thrivent Financial and Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF).
“In continuing our dedicated focus of empowering ministries, LCEF is blessed to have been part of the very special SWYC grant program,” said Becca Jones, LCEF senior vice-president of Marketing and Customer Support. “We were encouraged with each application by the desire to reach across cultural communities and serve those in need while sharing the saving grace of Jesus Christ. We pray for all the ministries receiving grants, that the work they do reflects Christ’s love and passion.”
“In recognition of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, the Thrivent Financial Foundation is pleased to support the LCMS SWYC grant program,” echoed Laurie Wilkinson, Thrivent Financial director of church and community engagement. “Our hope is that through these grants, Lutherans will make a difference for those in their communities, as they demonstrate acts of generosity and service.”
“We thank Lutheran Church Extension Fund and Thrivent for partnering to make this happen; we also thank all the applicants for their interest,” said Golter. “I’m looking forward to highlighting certain projects, so that the whole church can rejoice as they become aware of what’s going on in various parts of the church,” said Golter.
Roger Drinnon (email@example.com) is manager of Editorial Services for LCMS Communications.
Posted March 1, 2016