A comprehensive $198 million endeavor, “Always Being Made New: The Campaign for the ELCA” is now in its fourth year and already making a significant impact, both domestically and globally. The campaign’s global emphasis has several priorities—world hunger, malaria, and leadership development for youth and women.

By the numbers

As of December 2016, the campaign has raised $108.2 million in total funding. Here’s a glimpse of some of the campaign’s international impact:

  • 11 Young Adults in Global Mission programs in countries including Argentina/Uruguay, Cambodia, Central Europe (Hungary), Jerusalem/West Bank, Madagascar, Mexico, Rwanda, Senegal, Southern Africa and United Kingdom.
  • 60 countries benefit from ELCA World Hunger-supported programs.
  • 100 international Lutheran women have access to academic scholarship, training, and networking opportunities.
  • $15 million goal for the ELCA Malaria campaign met and surpassed in 2015, allowing work to continue in 14 African countries and enabling a new program to open in Madagascar.
  • 13 new global ministry evangelism projects initiated by companion churches in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Latin America.
  • 84 Young Adults in Global Mission volunteers serving during the 2016-17 year.

Global Leadership in Action

One of the campaign’s global targets is to develop young leaders who will help shape the church’s future. Jessica Moes, an alumna of the ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM) program, is one such leader who has been impacted by the ELCA’s campaign funding.

As a YAGM volunteer living in Cambodia’s Kruos Village, Moes served as an English teacher while helping with church programming to build relationships within the community. “Much of my work was just showing up and being present—to witness and to serve in relationship and build community. There were also times when I needed to step back so my community could thrive in the ways they were already,” she said. 

From Moes’ perspective, YAGM’s potential extends well beyond the village’s borders. She believes it’s about cultivating leaders who will lift up the global church and remain sensitive to cross-cultural concerns. “We are shaping a generation of young adults who return to the United States. This experience shapes the way they continue to interact with the church. They come back and heavily impact their own communities in all aspects of society,” she said.

31% of YAGM alumni return to the United States and pursue seminary education.

Moes’ YAGM site was also directly impacted by ELCA funding through its World Hunger and Global Ministries programs.

Moes witnessed a variety of ways the funding made a difference in the community. “Funds from the campaign helped feed the children of the village. But before they ate, they would come to the church and learn about food preparation, how to properly clean themselves and their dishes, and about nutrition,” she said.

With support from other partner Lutheran churches globally, the congregation in Kruos Village also has an agriculture project that partners with about 250 farmers in the community.

Moes noted that the ELCA’s emphasis on world hunger isn’t just about feeding but about teaching and lifting up what’s already working for the farmers in their communities. To that end, the church in Kruos Village provides regular training on new techniques to diversify crops for nutritious and economic gain as well as enhance crop yields. The congregation also works with community members on small animal husbandry projects that are both feasible and sustainable. 

As she discerns the next step in her career, Moes’ YAGM service will influence her choices. “The work that I choose to do will be impacted by this experience,” she said. “I feel deeply obligated to do work that honors the experience I had.”

A Congregational Priority

Epiphany Lutheran Church, Ellicott City, Md., has made the ELCA’s global emphasis an annual priority. Their pastor, Jack Trautwein, said the world hunger appeal is the only time the congregation makes an official ask for financial support. 

Their “Angel Tree World Hunger” appeal has taken place every Christmas season since 2005. Its progress can be seen through a tree covered with angel ornaments in the sanctuary. Every week Trautwein provides an update to the congregation and invites children to place a new angel on the tree for each new contribution. In 2016, the 49-member congregation raised $7,873 from 80 contributions toward the ELCA’s global efforts to alleviate world hunger.

“This has become the church’s priority,” Trautwein said. “It is fundamental to the fact that the gospel comes down to God’s love and our love for each other. With this love, we need to share, and we need to see the needs of other people and uplift them. This is the basis of the gospel.” 

A Global Investment

For Glenn and Cindy Kraft, being actively involved as donors and volunteers for the ELCA campaign was a natural fit. Dedicated members of Good Shepherd Lutheran, Manchester, Mo., they said their congregation has long been interested in supporting the global church.

“Good Shepherd is a very active church as it relates to mission trips, both domestic and international,” Glenn said. “We went to Ecuador with our church. We also took a signature trip to Kenya to build an orphanage.” 

The Krafts see the ELCA’s World Hunger initiative as an especially important component of the church’s mission. And they’ve shown their commitment by serving on the ELCA’s development council for world hunger.

“Our ELCA dollars, combined with other dollars, come together to meet people where they are, to go to the margins of our world and help them with basic needs for education, water, food and also the word. We help communities be sustainable,” Glenn said.

Although world hunger has been a central focus for the St. Louis couple, Cindy is also involved in the ELCA’s International Women Leaders program, an initiative just beginning with funds from the campaign. “The work is so important because we know women support education around the world. If we support a woman, we support an entire family for the future,” she said.  

The Krafts feel a strong responsibility to use their financial resources in positive ways. “Ultimately it’s a response to the blessings in our life. It’s a way of saying, ‘These resources are not ours. They were given by God for us to use,’ ” Cindy said. 

Ministry in Malaysia

An indigenous people living in West Malaysia, the Orang Asli have struggled to adapt to industrialized culture and the region’s predominantly Muslim influence. As a result, they have been heavily marginalized. But through campaign funds, the ELCA seeks to change that reality. Working with church partners in Malaysia, the ELCA assists the Orang Asli with basic needs—education, health care and economic sustainability.

Aaron Yap, bishop of the Lutheran Church in Malaysia, said these programs will have a long-lasting effect on the community: “The projects help bring transformation to a community that, in the past, has been sidelined from mainstream economic development. And we’ve recognized that educating the younger generation is a crucial element in transforming the community as a whole. Every dollar given has helped touch an indigenous person’s life and bring transformation to their families and communities.”

For more information visit elca.org/campaign.

Read parts one and two in this series. 

Jill Dierberg Clark
Jill Dierberg Clark is a freelance writer and director of public engagement at Eden Theological Seminary. She lives in St. Louis with her husband and twins.

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