calendar May 13, 2014 in 2014 Assembly, Assembly, Congregations, Faith in action

VP Lifts Up ‘Out-of-the-Box’ Ministry

Through a year full of some hard decisions requiring much thought and prayer, the congregations of the SEPA Synod have increased their benevolent giving and increased their outreach efforts on behalf of their members and communities.

Tracey Beasley, Synod Council vice president, used her report to praise the congregations and their efforts.

“(This) hard conversation touched so many hearts, and we thank you,” she began. “I want you to know your work is not in vain.”

Beasley used her report to demonstrate that SEPA is the synod whose members roll up their sleeves and make a difference.

Getting Out of the Box from on Vimeo.

Mission Support Trend, 2010-13

Mission Support Trend, 2010-13

“Even when the economy is bad, when members want to cut back on tithes, when we had a bad winter, when some are dealing with buildings falling apart and busted pipes, even in the midst of all that, we are doing God’s work with our hands, and I want to lift you up,” she said.

Proof of the continued benevolence by congregations came in the amount of $39,000 over what was budgeted for Mission Support, she reported. Synod Council and Stewardship Committee members will visit congregations to say “thank you” in the coming months.

VP-AshesNearly all the synod’s congregations practiced the “God’s work. Our hands.” theme throughout the year. Several provide housing, meals and other services for various refugee communities. And most offer food pantries and/or hot meals to the hungry on a regular and ongoing basis.

“We live in a world where even the middle class is now having trouble putting food on the table,” Beasley said. “Everyone struggles today.”
She encouraged members to think outside the box in taking ministry out into the world—not waiting for the world to come to the church. “If we want to meet the needs of the community, we have to do ministry a little differently.”

Maundy Thursday at Reformation.

Maundy Thursday at Reformation.

Examples include those congregations that provided “drive-through ashes” on Ash Wednesday, including St. Paul’s in Norristown, Trinity, Lansdale and Upper Dublin Lutheran Church in Ambler. Beasley’s congregation, Reformation in Mt. Airy, brought Holy Week to life by creating a Maundy Thursday service that re-enacted the Last Supper.

“We had about 60 people attend that night, which is unusual,” she said, “because we used our imaginations and got out of our comfort zone.”

Photo courtesy Daily Local News by permission.

Photo courtesy Daily Local News by permission.

Other congregations have established “theology pubs,” in which members bring the message of Jesus to local bars and restaurants.

Nearly everyone in the room stood when Beasley asked who had been in involved in one or more such ministry. “Look around the room. And remember when you get tired, that it’s all worth it, because you are saving souls. And remember what God has reminded me time and time again: He has not brought us this far to leave us.

“It has been a blessing and an honor to serve for the past year as your vice president. We are SEPA, together in mission. Let us go forward to do God’s work, because we are his hands.” – Brenda Lange

VP-Immigrant   VP-Hunger