By Chris Markert, Bishop’s Associate for Mission
As members of the ELCA, we believe in a liberating God who frees us to be bold in our witness and generous in our sharing with the world for the sake of the Gospel.
Financial stewardship, then, is no longer simply about paying the church’s bills. It is about how congregations and ministries can together live out God’s call to love and serve our neighbor. And Mission Support— the portion of offerings our congregations share with synods and which synods then share with the churchwide organization— unites us in this vital, life-giving work we all share as “church together.”
Mission Support provides 80 percent of the resources that enable the ELCA to begin new ministries and accompany existing congregations as growing centers for evangelical mission. These funds also provide for the staff (both synod and churchwide) and resources for the development of new leaders, partnership with churches around the globe, alleviating poverty, working for justice and peace, responding to disasters, and so much more.
In the Gulf Coast Synod, you help us plan and prepare for our own synod’s generosity and investment in mission each year when your congregation completes a Mission Support Estimate (MSE). It also helps your congregation be intentional about your own practice of generosity and benevolence.
In 2019, the Gulf Coast Synod set a 100% response goal for MSEs from our congregations. And this year we reached that goal! What this means is that last fall, the synod office sent out stewardship packets and invited congregations to fill the online MSE form. During the winter, we followed up with emails to those congregations that had not yet returned an MSE. The Synod staff then followed up with phone calls. An exhortation was made at the Tri-Theological Conference. At Synod Assembly, pastors of congregations that had not yet submitted an MSE were flagged during check-in and requested to fill out an MSE. And finally, Synod staff reviewed the congregational reports submitted to the ELCA last year. After this, we considered every congregation as having responded (including as responses those that chose not return an MSE). Ergo, 100% response rate!
Thank you all for your partnership in ministry. Your MSEs and the mission support you share with the Synod are essential to the work we do together for the sake of the world.