We’re excited to hear stories about congregations who have joined in the ForwardingFaith campaign and creatively spread the good news of faith formation in Virginia during their appeals. This week, Ashley Lathrop, the Campaign Leader for St. Luke Lutheran Church in Richmond shares her congregation’s experience during their ForwardingFaith appeal.

St. Luke in Richmond was founded in 1959 and still has some of its charter members and families. The landscape of the church has changed over the past 20 years, and several of the former youth (such as myself) who grew up together have been brainstorming with our pastor, Pastor Fred Marcoux, on how to engage young families with small children to involve them in the church and provide meaningful experiences to draw the children into their early relationship with Christ. The timing of the ForwardingFaith campaign happened to naturally align with this initiative within our congregation.

After learning about the campaign last summer, we chose to place our local effort between our annual Lenten Challenge and the summer. The campaign launched on April 15 and culminated with Commitment Sunday on May 13, which happened to also be Mother’s Day and our annual Youth Sunday.

During the campaign, I led overviews of how the Virginia Synod is facilitating events and programs for faith formation across the state and how these programs can impact our congregation- whether for youth or for adults. Two personal temple talks were shared by membersDana Wiggins andSharon Crandall. Dana spoke about the impact that youth events such as Lost and Found and Winter Celebration had on her personally and how sharing those experiences with a broader group of people her age from various backgrounds truly connected to her faith and has a remaining impact to this day.

Sharon shared about how her children participated in these events when they were younger and how meaningful it was for her to attend as a chaperone. Sharon mentioned that one year she actually volunteered to attend Winter Celebration as a chaperone, even when the congregation did not have any youth to send! Sharon has also attended the adult program, Power of the Spirit, and was able to speak to the impact that event had on her faith and what new relationships she was able to form with people she met at the event.

Centering the campaign around the investment that we wish to make in our future generations appealed to our congregation, and we were able to raise over $12,000 of gifts and pledges against a congregational goal of $7500. We are still collecting pledges and anticipate that this total could continue to grow!

The Virginia Synod celebrates Ashley’s leadership and the generous commitment members at St. Luke have made to the ForwardingFaith campaign. We look forward to celebrating with so many more congregations who have set dates for appeals of their own!