On September 4th Pastor Leslie of Grace Lutheran in Chesapeake, will celebrate her 30th birthday. This year she’s forgoing birthday cake, presents, songs, or any other fancy celebrations and has instead invited her congregation, family, and friends to donate what they can, preferably in increments of thirty ($30, $0.30, or maybe $30,000) to celebrate the occasion! It’s a win-win for Pastor Leslie, as the proceeds raised in honor of her birthday will go to support one of her biggest passions: youth ministry.
“While serving in the New England Synod during my first call, the Executive Director of Massachusetts Council of Churches Laura Everett turned 35 and they ran a fundraiser, “$35 for Rev. Laura’s 35th”. So really I got the idea from that,” said Pastor Leslie in discussing her inspiration for such a fundraiser.
“Youth ministry was a natural fit for my birthday campaign because of the huge role the VA Synod Youth Program played in my faith formation and discernment process that led me to where I am today,” Pastor Leslie has been an active presence at the Virginia Synod’s youth events as a youth, young adult, and now adult leader. Those positive experiences led her to seminary and the ministry of Word and Sacrament “At Grace, we have a relatively small youth program, but regardless I would hate to see finances ever be the thing that holds a kid back from having life and faith changing experiences at events like Lost & Found, and Kairos.”
The proceeds from “$30 for Pastor’s 30th” will support youth ministry throughout three expressions, local, state, and national, of the ELCA, as they are distributed evenly between The Grace Lutheran Youth Fund, The ForwardingFaith Campaign of the Virginia Synod, and The Always Being Made New: Campaign for the ELCA.
Supporting these three causes was a no brainer for Pastor Leslie. Because of her positive experiences at youth and young adult ministry programs, she strives to make this focus a pillar of her own ministry, “Not only does the slate of three causes highlight the three expressions of the ELCA, it also makes the dividing easy and in line with the “3” in my upcoming age,” said Pastor Leslie.
“There are a million great causes I could have chosen to have this fundraiser benefit, but I landed on the three levels of youth ministry because of the recent roll out of the VA Synod ForwardingFaith Campaign,” she explained, “I was inspired by the stories I have heard so far about creative fundraising ideas people have come up with to support the ForwardingFaith Campaign, and I’m excited to be able to get involved this way, and I would encourage you to find your own creative way to support the present and future of God’s church.”
If you would like to help celebrate Pastor Leslie’s birthday, you can make a donation- either online at www.GraceLutheranChesapeak.org or by sending a check to Grace Lutheran Church at 521 Providence Road, Chesapeake, VA 23325, with “$30 for Pastor’s 30th” in the memo.