The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod Convention honored three congregations for their outstanding efforts to raise funds for the Synod’s Fan into Flame campaign in support of Ablaze! mission initiatives. Fan into Flame, the six-year-old campaign to raise $100 million, has raised $58,900,172 in gifts and pledges as of July 1.
Recognized congregations included Mountainside Lutheran Church, Linville, N.C.; Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Springfield, Va.; and First Immanuel Lutheran Church, Cedarburg, Wis.
- Mountainside Lutheran Church: The congregation, with 54 baptized members, was formed only five years ago. Members far exceeded their Fan into Flame goal by raising $279,000. Mountainside recently received a $900 grant from the Fan into Flame campaign to help purchase a refrigerator/freezer for Volunteer Avery, a social-service agency that provides food to needy people in Avery County. Donors can now provide perishable items for distribution through the ministry.
- Prince of Peace Lutheran Church: In the initial stages of their fundraising effort, Prince of Peace reported it had recorded more than 600 faith-sharing opportunities and exceeded its goal of raising $185,000 to support Ablaze! for God’s Mission, the Southeastern District’s application of Fan into Flame. To date, the congregation has raised $410,000 for Fan into Flame, and has focused on church planting, including outreach to an Ethiopian community.
- First Immanuel Lutheran Church and School: As a pilot congregation for Fan into Flame, First Immanuel raised more than $550,000, far exceeding its $150,000 goal. To date, it has raised more than $1 million for Fan into Flame. The congregation is designating funds for members to participate in short-term mission trips, tuition scholarships for their school, and senior citizen outreach ministries.
Campaign gifts are distributed to new outreach ministry in four categories: local outreach through congregations; regional ministries through LCMS districts; national outreach, church planting and revitalization ministry; and international outreach.
Convention delegates also heard an updated report on Fan into Flame progress. Campaign gifts are being used to launch 2,000 new congregations, revitalize 2,000 existing congregations, and fund outreach efforts, including supporting the placement of 29 missionaries in 14 countries and seven U.S. cities.
Internationally, Fan into Flame funds are being used towards start-up costs for Concordia International School in Hanoi, Vietnam, which will open for the 2011-12 academic year. Campaign funds also are being used to build a Lutheran seminary compound in Ghana, West Africa; restore a historic cathedral in St. Petersburg, Russia; and support church planting in Sri Lanka.
After the report, offered by campaign spokesman and LCMS First Vice President Dr. William Diekelman, delegates adopted, without debate, Resolution 1-01, “to celebrate Fan into Flame blessings and commit to its completion.” The resolution notes the “formal completion” of the campaign on Reformation Day 2011; asks that its “support mechanisms” remain in place until districts and congregations complete their local Fan into Flame campaigns; and requests that a final campaign report be provided to the next convention.
To date, 26 districts (and 1,420 congregations) have taken part in the campaign, with seven additional districts preparing to engage. Congregations and individuals who would like more information on the campaign are encouraged to visit www.fanintoflamelcms.org.