From Sept. 18 through Sept. 20, representatives from around the Synod gathered at the LCMS (Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod) International Center in St. Louis for a meeting of the Ministerial Care Coalition, or MC2.
MC2, a project of Concordia Plan Services (CPS), began in 2014 with the goal of fostering wide-ranging discussion and advocacy of worker wellness in the LCMS. The group comprises both past and current church workers as well as Synod and district representatives who serve in the area of worker wellness.
The September event included presentations from the Rev. Robert Zagore, executive director of the LCMS Office of National Mission (ONM); the Rev. Dr. Richard Marrs, director of the Master of Divinity and Residential Alternate Route programs at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis; and Steve Gruenwald, director of Worker Wellness at CPS.
The Synod’s current emphasis on church worker wellness is a direct result of the 2016 LCMS convention, which passed Res. 18–02A with 98.47 percent of delegates voting in favor. The resolution calls for the Board for National Mission to “Develop Policies for Assessing Worker Wellness and Making Recommendations for Worker Care.” Four other resolutions addressing worker wellness were also passed in 2016 (see blogs.lcms.org/2016/worker-wellness-merits-its-own-committee).
In 2017, the ONM surveyed the Synod’s commissioned and ordained workers regarding their wellness needs. In 2018, the ONM held a series of focus groups to gather additional input from workers, and a dedicated wellness webpage went live at lcms.org/wellness.
In 2019, a weekly devotional series on church worker wellness was launched (blogs.lcms.org/tag/church-worker-wellness-devotions). In the next few months, the ONM will welcome a new director of LCMS Family and Health Ministry.
In his presentation at the MC2 event, Zagore summarized the results of the 2018 focus groups. Attendees then broke into groups to discuss the results and create action plans to address the most pressing needs of LCMS workers.
Gruenwald, who is on the MC2 planning committee and who also helped lead several of the 2018 focus groups, said, “The conference allowed the group to share what they’re doing in their district, and then, as a group, look for solutions to address the needs shared by workers in the survey and focus groups.
“The group is passionate about helping church workers be well. … They know the challenges, and they know there are no easy, quick solutions, but each district in attendance left the conference with three goals to achieve.”
Deaconess Tiffany Manor, director of Worker Support for the LCMS New England District, and an MC2 participant, said, “It was a blessing to spend several days surrounded by and working with gifted servants who desire to serve their brothers and sisters in Christ who work within LCMS congregations and ministries.
“Church worker health and well-being impact congregational health and well-being. They can’t be separated. By supporting the health of the workers, we are supporting the health of our congregations and all of God’s people in our congregations.”
Posted Oct. 24, 2019