Mission News


Church of All Nations

In 2015 Peace Lutheran established the Church of All Nations mission at their new campus in the Greenridge section of town.  That mission that focused on Missions to the Asian populations was very successful for a time but ran into difficulties by the end of the year.  This July 24th we restart the mission with a slightly different flavor, but we hope and pray that we can still minister to a multicultural society in a new way.  If you would like to be a part of this mission please do not hesitate to call Pastor Bjornstad at Peace Lutheran Church.

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Vacation Bible Schools supported

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Above is the wonderful picture of the VBS at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Pittston, PA!  They are one of the congregations to which $500  in mission funds was sent to help grow their 2016 VBS outreach!  Thanks be to God for all our local VBS efforts!  




2016 Mission Festival


Mission Festival Poster

EASTERN DISTRICT MISSION FUNDS COMING TO NEPA!


Starting in 2015, the Eastern District, LCMS, is supporting missions differently than it has in the past.  Instead of determining itself where the District mission monies are going to be spent, they are distributing the mission funds to several “Regional Mission Organizations”.  The NEPA Lutheran Mission Partnership has been chosen to receive and distribute these mission funds. The Eastern District estimates that this year the Partnership will receive $5000, and that  amout could increase in the future.  These annual mission dollars are to be used in our area of service in whichever way it is decided - for the glory of the Lord and the spread of His Gospel.  

What is the NEPA Lutheran Mission Partnership?  It was formed several years ago and is simply a fellowship of mission minded Lutherans (LCMS) who desire, in whatever way they can, to facilitate missions in our local congregations.  Probably what the Partnership is most known for is the bi-annual mission festivals that they organize, the last one being this past spring at St. Matthew’s Grove.

What is the task before us?  The very blessed task before our local congregations, both individually and corporately, is to be able to utilize these funds for mission work here in NEPA so that the Gospel is shared in our communities in the most effective way possible.

The first important meeting of the NEPA Mission Partnership in response to this new funding will be Thursday, Dec. 11 at 10:30am at the Lutheran Church of Our Savior, Mt. Pocono, PA.  All pastors and lay people from our congregations are very much encouraged to attend!  Our goal for this meeting is to explore the opportunities of new mission work, either as congregations individually, or as multiple congregations corporately. We want to thank fellow members of the Eastern District for this gracious gift and opportunity for us to do more mission work here in our area of the District. Think of this gift as seed money to begin greater mission work in the kingdom.

Please discuss mission opportunities with your congregational members, and bring your ideas to the meeting!  To God be the glory!

PLEASE SHARE THIS MISSION BRAINSTORM PAGE LINK WITH THOSE MISSION MINDED IN NEPA! 

Mission Notes from Vic Peckenschneider


Rev. Golter


YES!  The 2014 NEPA Lutheran Mission Festival was blessed by the Lord!

On Saturday, May 18, members from at least eight NEPA congregations gathered at the beautiful St. Matthew's Church Park south of Wilkes Barre to encourage each other in missions, pray for each other’s kingdom work, worship the Lord together, and finally hear a message from Rev. Randall Golter, the Executive Director of International Missions for the LCMS!  It was truly a pleasure to have this encouragement from our church body and get a sense as to what our church is doing globally by the power of the Holy Spirit - even through our offerings.  


Now our challenge is to bring that encouragement in missions back to our congregations! It really does matter what we do in missions to bring the Gospel to our communities - and to the ends of the world!  


Vic Peckenschneider, member at Faith Lutheran Church, Easton, PA attended the May 18, 2014 NEPA Lutheran Mission Festival and these were the notes he took:


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During the fellowship time before the presentations I had a very nice conversation with the guest speaker Rev. Randall L Golter, Executive director LCMS Office of International Missions. During the conversation I had the opportunity to tell him about Faith Easton, how the area is growing, the great location the church has, the nearness to colleges, and the great property and facilities we have for growth. Hope he remembers Faith.

 

Congregational Mission Presentations: What they are doing for outreach.

            Grace Lutheran Church, Hop Bottom

Grace is reaching out and inward and to the community.

Has VBS in the evening to allow more parents to get involved.

Planning a Friendship Sunday, Sunday June 22nd open to the community. They are putting up a tent, a bounce house, having a magician, a free cook out, and games for all ages. There will be a 10-15 minute evangelistic message. They hope it will be a non-confrontational opportunity to invite a “friend”.

Have a summer lunch program for needy children in the community

They have a family who lost their home due to foreclosure, living in the parsonage

 

            Peace Lutheran Church, Scranton

Started a program teaching English to Indian community. The Rev. Naveen Nischal and his family joined their church directing this effort.

School for students grades one to six.

 

            St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church, Scranton

At neighborhood yard sale they serve free water, hot dogs, ice cream and handouts about their church.

Offer a free breakfast to the neighborhood once a month.

 

My notes from Rev. Golter’s presentation

America is no longer the center of the LCMS. It is now East Africa

The Christian Church today is in a hostile environment

The life of the church is dependent on the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, not us

We must teach Biblical truth not cultural truth

Keep it clear and simple

Be a faithful Christian

The church is the salt of the earth

All other religions teach that when you sin, here’s what you must do to earn forgiveness.

The Christian Church is the only religion that teaches that it’s been done for you

There is a big drive in the LCMS for missionaries in all areas, ministers, teachers, coordinators, medical, etc., etc.



Krista and Sarah Walker
The Twins
Mission Festival 1

District Recognition as a Recognized Mission Organization

Recently our Eastern District administration has been moving to “decentralize” mission funding in our district - and this has direct impact on our NEPA Lutheran Mission Partnership.  Recently the District Board of Directors has put forward a working document that will be going before the next District Convention coming up in Buffalo next summer.  

Until now, congregations and entities within the District would apply to the district to be awarded the mission dollars gathered from the congregations.  Now those mission dollars will be divided up between four regional mission organizations, who will then be privileged to distribute those funds in their local area.  The complete and final document is as follows:


Mission Transformation, a Blueprint for Eastern District LCMS Mission Funding


Introduction

By virtue of our Christian calling we are privileged by God Almighty with the noble task of being ambassadors of Jesus Christ.  “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.”  2 Corinthians 5:20.   Accordingly, every baptized man, woman and child of the Eastern District is a missionary on a missionary journey right where they are positioned in life and beyond at God’s beckon and call.  We are an “apostolic” church.


Jesus declared:  “My house shall be a house of prayer for all people.”  Jesus as the very face of God radiates God’s purpose and desire.  He reveals what is on God’s heart, or, more accurately, who is on God’s heart.   God loves all people and it is His gracious desire that “all come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4).  God’s purpose for the world can be summed up eloquently in the words many have committed to memory:  “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes on Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).   Finally, let it not be forgotten that Jesus prayed for us in our endeavor of bringing His saving presence into our world so that more and more people will turn to Him, “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you” (John 17:20,21).


The purpose of the church (Ephesians 3:10) and of the congregations of the Eastern District is the mission Christ sent us on, to “go and make disciples of all nations” (the Great Commission in Matthew 28).  There it is again, “all nations” or “all people”.  No one is too far away from the Gospel’s reach. 


Eastern District – a History of Strong but Changing Mission Commitment 

Through the years of mission outreach and mission work the Eastern District has utilized its resources as good stewards of the Gospel through changing social and ecclesial seasons.   Broadly speaking, we have experienced times when congregations funded missions exclusively through the treasury of the Eastern District such as was the case when mission congregations were organized and mission pastors were employed and supported by the District.  Then we in the Eastern District experienced a time when congregations and individuals were encouraged to support directly the mission activities of their choosing, including that of the Eastern District.  In recent memory the practice has been more of a direct grant support program.  Mission grants are awarded to congregations by the District to stir-up and promote congregational involvement in mission projects to their communities.  This method encourages congregations to reach out and work in their respective communities. 


Transformation Due to Two Realities

It is now recommended that a new policy take effect in the Eastern District for the funding of missions.  


Two forces of significance make such a recommendation timely and necessary.  On the one hand and by the grace of God, mission activity on the congregational level has never been more lively, diverse, and creative.  And on the other hand, mission dollars contributed for the work of the Eastern District has been diminishing annually.  


To say it another way, those forces coming together and effecting a new type of mission activity and philosophy can be viewed as an increase and a decrease.  The increase we have experienced is evidenced on the congregational level.  Many of our congregations have seen a rise of mission awareness and mission activity.  There has been an increase of congregational support for missionaries and mission organizations in a variety of ways.  What’s more, we have also witnessed congregations that send volunteers on mission trips within the United States and abroad.  These are examples of some of the very good things happening in our congregations.  Along those lines is also the rise of Eastern District Mission Organizations (EDMO’s).  Congregations are working together regionally for mission work and this has led to the emergence of these Organizations.  All of these phenomena stated above cannot but be seen positively as they reveal the good missional health of many of our congregations.  


On the other hand, a second force leading to this recommendation for mission transformation is in terms of a decrease.  Our Eastern District has, overall, experienced a decrease in dollar support from our congregations.  That decrease has been a constant for every year for the past fifteen years.  Today, the Eastern District operates with a budget one-third less (before inflation) then it managed during the 1990’s.  While overall the blessings have been many and the goodness of God who provides for all our needs has been abundantly evident, the District has been transformed due to these fiscal constraints.  There are many reasons that explain this reality, but the long and short of it is calibrated in a decrease of mission dollars.  One person wisely quipped “the mission of the church drives the dollars” but it can be further stated “the dollars of the District also drives the mission of the District”.  Our slacking ability to fund and operate missions on behalf of our congregations is reflected in our mission operations.  For example, the Eastern District no longer has the services of a Mission Executive.  And while we have been blessed with many volunteers of a mission mindset, the services and privileges of having a Mission Board have been limited.  It appears our values have changed.  Collectively, our heart for doing mission work through the auspices of a regional District Office and much less through a national office is a low priority and interest.  And it seems our congregations place more emphasis and more focus on their local church setting, local concerns, local issues, driven monetarily by local mission interests, at the expense of broader concerns and our congregation-to-congregation bonds which are more of an official District and national level.   


Eastern District Mission Organizations

Not all congregations have forgotten about the vitality exhibited when Christians and congregations join together in mission efforts beyond themselves yet is an effort close enough to call “our own”.  That’s where our Eastern District Mission Organizations come in to this presentation.  An EDMO is an organization of congregations that work to initiate, raise up, and support mission efforts in a given region. EDMO’s do mission work.  They are proponents of mission education thereby seeding mission awareness among constituents.  They are locally owned and operated.  They are uniquely comprised and governed.  No two EDMOs are alike.  They exist because strong mission-minded individuals are interested in working with other Christians in other LCMS congregations.  While they are self-governed they operate within applicable and appropriate supervision of the District President to ensure that the mission of the church and the teachings of the church are honored.    


To date five EDMO’s exist in the Eastern District.  They are:

Philadelphia Lutheran Ministries (PLM)

North East Pennsylvania (NEPA)

Lutheran Inter-City Network Coalition Rochester (LINC-Rochester)

Christian Life Ministries in Buffalo (CLIMB)

Pittsburgh Area Lutheran Ministries (PALM)


“Angel Tear Ministries” is another organization or funding agency also in existence within the Eastern District.  This self-funding ministry operates through the auspices of Concordia Lutheran Homes in Cabot, PA.  While Angel Tear Ministries generously supports mission work at home and around the world, it is not an Eastern District Mission Organization with a purpose of doing mission work directly in the community.  


Proposal to the Eastern District Board of Directors.  

Therefore, in light of the current state of mission work in the Eastern District and the new opportunities for mission activity evidenced in our EDMO’s the following changes to funds allocation for mission work are recommended:


  1. Funds previously awarded as mission grants will be transferred to EDMO support in a timely manner (and until such time as all current mission grant commitments have been honored). All current mission grant commitments will be honored;


  1. Eastern District MO support will be distributed equally and evenly per each Mission Organization unless the Mission Organization is dormant or inactive (or is funded by a third party source);


  1. The President of the District or his representative will convene representatives of the EDMO’s to ascertain their level of mission activity and to discern the financial support eligibility/need for such organizations as part of the annual budget setting process.  Each EDMO will submit the requested documentation to be used in this process; and 


  1. Congregations of the Eastern District are strongly encouraged to continue their financial support of the Eastern District with appeals for increases in support from the Eastern District leadership


  1. The Eastern District will continue to support and promote Eastern District Mission Organizations until such time as it becomes necessary to refine, change, or redirect its actions.

© Kristian G. Bjornstad 2014