On January 1st a letter of thanks went out to every congregation and worshipping community in NT-NL. This letter related gratitude for their gifts of mission support to the synod in 2017 and gave an update on those gifts. This letter, not unlike similar letters/emails/texts/notifications that our congregations send to members, was both a thank you and reminder of the essential nature of those gifts. Gifts essential not just for the functioning of the synod but also for the spiritual health and wellbeing of our communities and the disciples of Jesus in those communities.
Stewardship, despite decades of preaching and teaching to the contrary, is still often only seen of in terms of pledge drives and capital campaigns. These efforts are certainly part of stewardship but never the whole picture. When stewardship is understood as the discipleship project of a community made up of individuals recognizing the abundance of God, then we see true stewardship and spiritual growth happening.
I am deeply grateful to all our congregations that have been able to increase their mission support in 2018. We have amazing stories of congregations that have made a commitment towards growing their mission support. Some doubling or even tripling that support in recent years. I am grateful for those congregations and for all who are working toward a tithe (10%) of their budget for mission support just as I pray we are teaching tithing as a spiritual discipline in our communities. The NT-NL, despite many challenges and other synods that have chosen to decrease, has maintained our commitment to 48% sharing of mission support with the ELCA.
Stewardship is about much more than finances. Yet our financial support indicates our priorities, our discipleship. As we begin a new year, I pray that our congregations and our communities will commit themselves to teaching healthy, sustaining, and abundant stewardship practices. Recognizing that all we have comes from God and that all we are is a gift of God.
May God bless you this new year, and thank you for your financial support of our work #InMissionTogether and most of all for your prayers.