Dear friend in Christ,
Stories of Faith in Action – Your Offering at Work highlights ELCA ministries that span this country and the globe, some of which illustrate the way challenges can lead to God-given opportunities. You are part of each of these stories – through your faithful, regular offering, a portion of which is used to fund ELCA ministries beyond the congregation, which is called Mission Support. Combined with gifts from other ELCA members, Mission Support advances the work of your congregation, your synod and the work we do as a wider church. Thank you for your generosity!
As a member of the ELCA you are part of a much larger story. You are connected with our 9,300 congregations, 65 synods and one churchwide organization. Your church is connected globally to 72 million Lutherans through its membership in The Lutheran World Federation. We are church – together!
With gratitude, The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Hope Springs at Abiding Ministries
On Sunday, August 24, 2014, the last hymn was sung, the blessing was said and the doors closed on Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Pittsburgh, PA. Bethlehem had merged with another congregation, and its 100-year-old building was scheduled to be torn down.
That is, until a connection was made with Abiding Ministries – a new ELCA faith community in Pittsburgh. Abiding Ministries was in search of a space and found a fit in the vacant church building. But it needed work.
“There were stray cats living in the building, the lights didn’t work, the roof leaked. We came in and got things cleaned up,” remembered Christine Rotella, mission developer for Abiding Ministries.
In less than a year, a new congregation has become an important part of the neighborhood, offering a meal and worship on Sundays and financial workshops during the week. Abiding Ministries has become a source of hope where many experience extreme poverty. “God has provided me with a new spiritual and physical energy here,” said Moses, a member there. Another member, Patrick, added, “(This church) has restored my faith, something I had given up on since I was a child.”
Children are even showing up after school for fellowship, snacks and support in a safe space. Once Rotella came across a group of five boys caught in a street fight with adults and pulled them inside the church. That afternoon ended with songs in the choir loft instead of violence. Two boys came back and sang in worship that Sunday, and they have been visiting the church on and off ever since.
“One asked if his funeral could be in the church and if I would do the prayers,” said Rotella. “He tried to talk about needing a casket for bodily resurrection but did not have words. We are right where God wants us.”
A portion of your offering is used by your synod and the ELCA churchwide organization to support new congregations like Abiding Minstries and the mission developers who lead them.