Earnest Tate, pastor of Peace Lutheran Church, an ELCA congregation in Milwaukee, is proud of how connected his congregation is to the people it serves.

“We are a mission congregation,” he says. “We are blessed, and we continue to share our blessings with our community.”

As a renewing congregation, Peace relies in part on a grant from ELCA churchwide ministries to fund its many ministries. It has a community meal on Wednesdays, and passes out trays of food after Sunday worship to those who need them. Serving in an urban, impoverished area, though, sometimes means that the Sunday offering is low, so in order to keep these ministries going, Peace gets creative with its resources.

For instance, in order to keep the many meal programs stocked, Earnest relies on a program through another local congregation that receives food from caterers who have left-over meals from their events.

“What happens is that if you go to a wedding reception and you pay for 150 meals but sometimes only 125 show up,” Earnest says. “It’s about $30,000 worth of meals that we’re receiving, and we’re sharing it with the community.”

And rather than hiring people to do administrative work or to make repairs to their building, Earnest utilizes a local volunteer matching service and allows offenders and others to perform their community service doing chores around the building.

But lately there has been a little bit more to go around at Peace. Thanks in part to an ELCA initiative called Rediscover Macedonia which helps congregations think more intentionally about giving and the sharing of God’s gifts, Peace has seen a 20 percent increase in contributions.

“Several members have gone to Macedonia workshops and in return we’ve come back to the congregation and shared the info,” Earnest says. “We’ve had several individuals give us a substantial amount.”

Earnest says that the insight Rediscover Macedonia was able to give his members into the process of giving in the ELCA was inspiring.

“Just knowing the percentage that our synod gives to the ELCA and the monies that we receive from the ELCA… it inspired people to give realizing we’re receiving funds and that giving funds can help other congregations,” Earnest shares. Stewardship is a mindset, not just a one-time giving event. “You look at dollars the congregation is saving at the same time that we are evangelizing and feeding people,” says Earnest, “it’s our way of showing discipleship.”

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