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 we’re sharing good news from St. Michael Lutheran Church in Virginia Beach who just wrapped up their campaign last week!
When members at St. Michael Lutheran Church learned about the ForwardingFaith campaign, they hit the ground running. They were the first congregation that participated in the campaign, making their first congregational gift in the fall of 2015. Lead gifts from members at St. Michael also helped kick-start the campaign early on. These lead gifts came from families who were touched by the development of faith they saw in their children’s lives thanks to youth ministry and enthusiastically wanted others to be able to experience the same faith formation.
“We were lucky that one of our council members instantly took the lead before we even started to initiate the campaign,” Pastor Nate Huffman who serves at St. Michael explained. This same enthusiasm to forward faith formation ministries in Virginia carried into their congregational appeal that just concluded Sunday, May 6th. The response has been overwhelmingly positive from St. Michael, with an estimated $108,000 gifts received from the congregation.
Pastor Nate saw the congregational appeal at his congregation take shape as a “Legacy Campaign” saying, “There were parents with youth still involved in youth programming, parents who have seen their children go through Virginia Synod youth programs and move on to seminary, and parents who’ve seen their children come up through Virginia Synod youth programs and attribute positive experiences in the church through those programs. These voices are strong believers in the programming because of personal connections.” and these personal connections, became even more apparent through testimonies given by members at St. Michael.
Across three weeks of the congregational appeal, several members at St. Michael showcased just how significant a history their congregation has with faith formation ministries in Virginia. Stories were shared from individuals like newly consecrated Deacon Lisa Geiger. She spoke about how adult faith formation programming in Virginia helped her in her discerning and her call to serve as a Deacon. Rachel Autenreith, who spoke with her infant daughter, shared her hopes that faith formation ministry will have an impact on her daughter’s life. These moving temple talks all led up to the congregation’s final pledge drive held on May 29th, which coincided with the receiving of new members.
With a rich history of faith formation ministry making an impact at St. Michael, both in its members and leadership’s lives, “Having the enthusiastic support of Tina Allen [St. Michael’s council president] and Patrick Johnson was an undeniable factor in spreading the word and motivating the congregation’s involvement. Pastor Stephen [Bohannon] emphasized our connection to the larger church and our roles at youth events, as pastors to not only St. Michael but called leaders to the Synod and the larger Church.” Not only were Tina and Patrick involved in their own congregation’s appeal, they also made visits to congregations in their region to encourage them to participate in the campaign! And anyone who’s familiar with Winter Celebration knows of Pastor Stephen’s long involvement as planning group advisor and the Roving Reporter.
The Virginia Synod celebrates St. Michael’s commitment and generosity of the ForwardingFaith campaign and looks forward to celebrating with so many more congregations who have set dates for appeals of their own.