Lutherans Engage the World | Winter 2019

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Winter 2019


Winter 2019 Lutherans Engage the World is published quarterly by The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. © 2019 The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. Reproduction for parish use does not require permission. Such reproductions, however, should credit Lutherans Engage the World as a source. Print editions are sent to LCMS donors, rostered workers and missionaries. An online version is available at Unless otherwise noted, all photos are property of the LCMS. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version ®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Staff David L. Strand Pamela J. Nielsen Erica Schwan Megan K. Mertz Erik M. Lunsford Lisa Moeller Chrissy Thomas Rudy Blank

executive director, communications executive editor director, design services managing editor manager, photojournalism designer designer webmaster

Cover image

The Rev. Javier Lozano, pastor of Iglesia de la Santa Biblia (Church of the Holy Bible) in the Anapra community of Juárez, Mexico, baptizes a young boy on Oct. 26, 2018. PHOTO: LCMS COMMUNICATIONS/ ERIK M. LUNSFORD


We’d love for you to join us on the journey. To receive the magazine in your mailbox, please call the LCMS Church Information Center at 888-THE LCMS (843-5267). To be notified when new issues are posted online, visit

Editorial Office

314-996-1215 1333 S. Kirkwood Road St. Louis, MO 63122-7295 888-THE LCMS  |

the world

Bearing the Light of Christ in a Chaotic World Christ’s mission — the Church’s mission — is filled with joy. Yet our life together is often exceedingly difficult. Ever since the fall of Adam, ours is a disordered, untidy, chaotic world. The challenges facing saints engaged in ministry and mercy — the hurdles standing before you, dear reader — are many and daunting. Today, most of Christ’s Body is not occupied in serene monasteries or hushed libraries. Instead, we find ourselves walking into border towns filled with anxious people. We enter homes whose walls are covered with mold and whose occupants are filled with despair. In our pews, we look with compassion upon individuals and families struggling with separation, poverty, loneliness, addiction, illness and death. We march into refugee camps to deliver finite supplies, only to be faced with seemingly limitless human needs. In every instance of such insufferable messiness, we strive to bring the brilliant, hopeful light of the Gospel of Christ to bear. We “dive in,” armed with full confidence that the powerful Word of God is ceaselessly robust and unbreakable, even under the harshest of conditions. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling” (PS. 46:1–3). The Gospel — through cross and resurrection, in its absolute forgiveness and the glorious promise of life everlasting to those who believe — is carried forth and given away in faith-borne words and works of mercy toward our neighbor. And it is this Gospel alone that produces lasting fruit. “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever” (IS. 40:8). Thank you for helping to make it happen, under God’s grace. In Christ, Rev. Kevin D. Robson Chief Mission Officer, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

From the Editor Christ’s mercy is at the heart of this issue of Lutherans Engage the World. Having received Christ’s divine mercy, we share it with others. Through your prayers, efforts and financial gifts, this mercy is extended in Kenyan refugee camps, among immigrant communities and where people struggle after a disaster strikes. The LCMS is in all these places with God’s saving Word and acts of mercy, changing lives now and for eternity. In Christ, Pamela J. Nielsen Associate Executive Director, LCMS Communications



Let the Children Come to Me

Some 25 children and adults were welcomed into God’s family through the waters of Holy Baptism in October in Juárez, Mexico.

Pamela J. Nielsen



Despite Hurricanes, the Church Still Stands Stacey Egger and Megan K. Mertz

After hurricanes hit Florida and the Carolinas, the Synod walks together to rebuild lives and restore hope in Jesus’ name.



Compassion Centered on Christ, For All Kevin Armbrust The Compassion Center at Redeemer Lutheran Church, Hyattsville, Md., provides physical care and Gospel comfort for the community.



Integrating Faith and Health Megan K. Mertz The Synod’s parish nurses promote well-being in congregations, schools, homes, hospital rooms and wherever needed.

Departments 10 Mercy Moment After tornadoes, one church is helping other disaster victims. 12 Q&A With LCMS missionary Krista Young 16 Witness Moment A team shares the Gospel in Kenyan refugee camps. 21 LCMS, Inc. Annual Report 29 Spotlight A word on transparency and accountability.


Let the Children Come to Me


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Children run to pick up supplies before the Service of Holy Baptism on Oct. 26, 2018, at the Iglesia de la Santa Biblia (Church of the Holy Bible) in the Anapra community of Juárez, Mexico. The Rev. Stephen Heimer, pastor of Zion Lutheran Church, El Paso, Texas, and chief operating officer of Ysleta Lutheran Mission Human Care, prepares baptismal certificates before the service.

Children sing during the Baptism service in the Anapra community.

Some 25 children and adults were welcomed into God’s family through the waters of Holy Baptism in October in Juárez, Mexico.


or 10-year-old Kimberly, Oct. 26 was no ordinary day. Even as she laughed and ran around with her friends, adults hastily hung bunting and floral garland and prepared pots of chicken mole, rice and beans for the gathering crowd in Anapra, Mexico. Soon, Kimberly would join nearly 25 other children and adults around a “pop-up” chancel with a makeshift altar, pulpit and two baptismal fonts. In a dusty corner surrounded by a tall chain-link fence, where she had long ago found a caring community, Kimberly and the others were rescued forever from sin, death and the devil through the waters of Holy Baptism.

A City of Hope Communities like Anapra, on the edge of Juárez, Mexico,

sprung up rapidly when American corporations built manufacturing facilities in Mexican border towns following the enactment of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994. Filled with hope at the promise of good jobs, Mexican families relocated from every corner of the country, rapidly expanding the population of sleepy, old border towns. Built with salvaged materials, the humble homes have

only recently begun to receive basic services such as power, water and paved roads. The ever-changing politics of international trade make these families easy targets for rival drug cartels with their own form of commerce. Men and women desperate to provide a better life for their families find, or are forced into, employment with the drug gangs, trapping them in a cycle of poverty and violence that sometimes ends in death.

Kimberly smiles as she becomes a child of God through the waters of Holy Baptism.

A Lasting Impact Kimberly is one of many children upended by the violence. Her story is not unique, nor are the effects of witnessing the event that left her an orphan when she was just 4 years old. Her father’s decision to pay the rent rather than the cartel cost him and his wife their lives. “The kids were suffering from a kind of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from the violence that erupted in Juárez in 2006,” said Elvira Viramontes, who serves with Ysleta Lutheran Mission Human Care (YLM), an LCMS Recognized Service Organization in El Paso, Texas. “At the climax of the violence, some of the kids who suffered the loss of family members were exposing that to the teachers,” recalled Viramontes. “We determined to implement something engage. lcms .o rg


more, for those who lost family members.” The Rev. Stephen Heimer, chief operating officer of YLM, reached out to Army Chaplain Steven Hokana, an LCMS pastor with advanced training in caring for combat veterans suffering from PTSD. Hokana, who was stationed at nearby Fort Bliss at the time, came for a week to instruct the teachers and volunteer staff about how to give the kids comfort and care through the love of God. In 2014, a grant of $13,500 from LCMS World Relief and Human Care helped YLM bring the PTSD training to staff and volunteers working in six separate missions in Juárez. YLM reached out to other groups and government agencies and created a holistic program of spiritual, psychological and physical care for the children and their families. Four years later, the training continues to be put to good use as staff members care for the families in these communities.

A Faithful Volunteer Heimer is eager to say that the leadership gifts of Deaconess Rosy Lira, and her faithful devotion to the children and parents of Anapra, have been the driving force behind this newest mission effort of YLM in Anapra in the past 10 years. When the new mission property in Anapra was given to YLM, Lira, then a faithful volunteer for YLM, was willing to join YLM’s staff to serve with Pastor Javier Lozano in Anapra. YLM provided her with PTSD training with Chaplain Hokana and enrolled her in courses at the Lutheran Hispanic Missionary Institute, another LCMS Recognized Service Organization. Lira graduated in 2011 and was challenged to raise up a team of teachers in Juárez.

The Rev. Stephen Heimer plays guitar and sings with Deaconess Rosy Lira (center) and a congregation member during the Oct. 26 Baptism service.

The Rev. Javier Lozano, pastor of Iglesia de la Santa Biblia (Church of the Holy Bible) in Anapra, baptizes a young boy during the Baptism service.

“I had to train 12 teachers for Sunday school. It was my first year of experience,” recalled Lira, noting that there were almost 300 children there at the time. Today under her leadership, the children are taught, fed and cared for in body and soul. She has become a pseudo-grandmother to these little ones. “We’ve been outside under the strong sun. We’ve been cold. We’ve had snow. People come with their children in their arms. But here they are, seeking every day that spiritual food,” said Lira. She also organizes hot meals for the children, many of whom are left to fend for themselves while their parents work long days. “Every day we will be here,” said Lira, “because we have God’s blessing to be able to be here.” YLM has provided funds, resources, staff and volunteers through its large network of supporters and partners in the U.S. and Mexico.

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The Rev. Dr. Karl Heimer greets Kimberly before the service.

The view overlooking the United States-Mexico border. The water tower on the left is in El Paso, Texas, while the red X sculpture on the right is in Juárez, Mexico.

Lira and Kimberly sit together following the Baptism service.

|  WATC H  | A video of Kimberly’s Baptism:

Baptized into Christ YLM began 36 years ago when the Rev. Dr. Karl Heimer was called as a mission developer on the border by the LCMS Rocky Mountain District. San Pablo Lutheran Church on the campus of YLM was the first congregation established as a result of his efforts. “When I came here, there was nothing going on,” said Heimer, who explained how he and his son, Stephen Heimer, who was 4 years old when his father took the call to El Paso, have steadily worked to provide “simple acts of kindness” as they preach and teach in El Paso and across the border in Mexico. “We are known and

“I want her to know that she’ll see them in heaven, that she can live her life not defined by that tragedy but by what Jesus brings to her.”

established in the community,” said the younger Heimer. Stephen Heimer was already busy serving as pastor of Zion Lutheran Church, El Paso, and providing support to his father and the others at YLM. But in January 2018, he also committed to making the weekly journey across the border to instruct the children and their parents in preparation for Holy Baptism. Ten months later, two lines formed in front of the baptismal fonts with the crowd pressing close around. They were eager to witness the eternal miracles taking place through water and the Word in this spot near the U.S.Mexico border wall with patrol helicopters flying overhead.

Kimberly waited for her turn and climbed up the stepstool to reach the font. Heimer baptized her “en el nombre del Padre, del Hijo y del Espiritu Santo.” As Kimberly raised her dripping head, Heimer announced her birth into the family of God. The crowd cheered and praised God just as they did for each one baptized that day. “The pastor did this to me,” said Kimberly, “he made the sign of the cross in my heart and on my forehead, and at my Baptism he told me that I was already with God.”

Telling Their Story “We don’t want to define them by their tragedy, especially

Kimberly, because her dad and mom did come to faith before they were killed. I want her to know that she’ll see them in heaven, that she can live her life not defined by that tragedy but by what Jesus brings to her,” said Stephen Heimer. Reflecting on the day’s events, he said, “Most of these children and families have faced great hardship and tragedy all their lives. Jesus said, ‘Let the children come to me.’ Here they are! Now baptized! Today was pure joy.” Lives changed, now and for eternity. Thanks be to God. Deaconess Pamela J. Nielsen is associate executive director for LCMS Communications.

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Despite Hurricanes, the Church Still Stands

The Rev. Michael Meyer (left), manager of the Synod’s Disaster Response, and the Rev. Eric C. Johnson (right), president of the LCMS Southern District, pray with the Rev. David Gieseking, pastor of Living Water Lutheran Church, Mexico Beach, Fla., at Gieseking’s destroyed apartment following Hurricane Michael.

After hurricanes hit Florida and the Carolinas, The Lutheran ChurchMissouri Synod walks together to rebuild lives and restore hope in Jesus’ name.


lthough hurricanes Florence and Michael dropped out of the news cycle just days after making landfall in the United States, the road to recovery will take months — even years — in the affected areas. LCMS World Relief and Human Care Disaster Response is working with LCMS districts and other partners in the Carolinas and the Florida Panhandle, bringing the love of Christ to church members and their neighbors. “We always say we’re in for the long haul, we’re going to be there after everyone else has pulled out,” said Deaconess Sally Hiller, the LCMS Southeastern District’s disaster-response coordinator, who is overseeing the response in the Carolinas.

Initial Recovery in the Florida Panhandle Hurricane Michael made landfall as a Category 4 storm near Mexico Beach, Fla., on Oct. 10, unleashing winds of up to 155 miles per hour on the coastal towns of the Florida Panhandle. Some people evacuated ahead of the storm, but many did not. “I think the rapid intensification caught a lot of people off guard,” said the Rev. Michael Meyer, manager of Disaster Response. At Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Callaway, Fla., the Rev. Randal Ehrichs opened up the church as a shelter for people who did not evacuate. As the winds began blowing,

some 85 people — as well as 15 to 20 dogs, cats and other pets — gathered at the church. “We’ve sheltered here in other hurricanes, so we really didn’t anticipate the kind of storm that Michael was going to be,” Ehrichs said. “We had no idea we were going to have to care for quite that many [people] … but they needed shelter and just started showing up.” As the storm intensified, the tension inside grew. The cell network went down, and people were no longer able to communicate with their loved ones. To encourage the group, Ehrichs led them in singing hymns and praying the psalms. Although Good Shepherd suffered significant damage to its roof during the hurricane, everyone inside was OK. But nearby Redemption Lutheran Church, a small, predominately

black congregation in Panama City, was “a total loss,” according to LCMS Southern District President Rev. Eric C. Johnson. In Mexico Beach, Living Water Lutheran Church and the home of its pastor, the Rev. David Gieseking, were both destroyed. Congregations in and around the hardest-hit areas began responding immediately. The Rev. Jay Winters, pastor of University Lutheran Chapel in Tallahassee, Fla., headed into his neighborhood with several members of his congregation to assist neighbors with cutting up fallen trees. Meanwhile, Synod and district leaders began planning the long-term recovery. Despite damage to the sanctuary roof and youth building, Trinity Lutheran Church, Panama City, became a hub for volunteer teams. In mid-November,

|   L EA RN M OR E   | |   WATC H  | A video on the hurricane response: engage.lcms .o rg   •  7

We always say we’re in for the long haul, we’re going to be there after everyone else has pulled out.” — Deaconess Sally Hiller

From left, Robert Griggs, Tracy Griggs, Lexi Griggs and Kathy Roberts sort and organize donated food at Trinity Lutheran Church, Panama City, Fla., following Hurricane Michael.

Trinity was set up to receive the first 50 volunteers — half from Lutheran Church Charities and half from various congregations around the Synod. Meyer also worked with partners to utilize disaster equipment that was already available. Orphan Grain Train sent a mobile church building, last used in Nebraska, to serve as a temporary home for Redemption, while Camp Restore in New Orleans transferred tools and equipment — originally sent to Baton Rouge for flood relief in 2016 — to Panama City. Disaster Response also gave a grant of $110,000 to the Southern District to provide for church-worker care and volunteer coordination, as Meyer and others continue to look for ways to offer additional assistance where needed. “The community is torn up. Not only do people not have places to live, they don’t have a job to go back to. I can’t even imagine. I’ve never been through anything like this before,” Ehrichs said. “But the church, she stands. We had worship on Sunday morning … and the saints truly rejoiced.”

‘Phase 2’ in the Carolinas Even as this was underway in Florida, long-term recovery continued in the Carolinas after Hurricane Florence dumped a record amount of rain there in mid-September. While Florence’s Category 1 landfall near Wrightsville Beach, N.C., was not as forceful as feared, the storm’s slow journey inland caused catastrophic flooding as rivers overflowed their banks. Three LCMS churches sustained significant damage in the storm and the flooding

that followed, as did the homes of many congregation members and their neighbors. After the floodwaters rose, many areas were underwater for nine days or more. “It was impossible for forecasters to figure out what would flood and when,” said the Rev. David Panning, pastor of Holy Lamb Lutheran Church in Myrtle Beach, S.C. As soon as roads were passable, Disaster Response was on the scene with food, personalcare items, flood buckets and devotional materials. A semitrailer full of tools to help homeowners and volunteers

muck out flooded homes was sent from St. Louis. Several days after the storm hit, Disaster Response leaders met with the Southeastern District to assess the situation. As part of the immediate response, volunteer teams traveled to five coastal cities and cut up fallen trees, removed debris, and cleaned and gutted homes on more than 70 properties. As the initial cleanup work nears completion, Hiller said that “Phase 2” of relief efforts is underway. Disaster Response has approved a grant of $209,083 to

It was impossible for forecasters to figure out what would flood and when.” — Rev. David Panning

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The Rev. Dr. John Denninger (right), president of the LCMS Southeastern District, loads Hurricane Florence relief supplies with the Rev. Dr. Ross Johnson and the Rev. Michael Meyer of the Synod’s Disaster Response.

Representatives from Disaster Response pray with retired pastor and chaplain Charlie Smith and his wife, Carolyn, at their hurricane-damaged home in Havelock, N.C.

Damage inside St. Paul Lutheran Church, Havelock, N.C., following Hurricane Florence.

the Southeastern District for church repairs, worker care, materials and supplies, and the coordination of volunteer efforts moving forward. Hiller said that they plan to rebuild 20 homes. Three have already been completely restored. An estimated $200,000 more is currently being sent to the region in the form of tools and resources. Four mobile bunkhouses, mobile kitchen and refrigeration units, and a mobile office are being transferred to house,

feed and organize volunteers. Many of these resources are being transferred from former disaster sites, and thus are the continued fruits of previous grants from Disaster Response. Aaron Asbury, a firefighter from North Myrtle Beach, received three hours’ notice to vacate his home while on duty a few days after the hurricane. He and his wife saw the floodwaters rising in their backyard as they threw what they could in their car and

retreated to safe ground. “We lost everything,” Asbury said. Asbury remained in the area to respond to the needs of others while his own home was destroyed. He’s been responding to disasters for 23 years, yet he says this experience has given him a “new, profound respect” for both victims and volunteers. When Pastor Panning learned of Asbury’s situation, he called the drywall team from Calvary Lutheran Church, Charleston, S.C. The team restored more than just the “physical things” for Asbury. After the hurricane, Asbury said that looters came through many of the affected areas, breaking into homes

and garages. Asbury said he saw the “worst of humanity” in those days. But when the team of volunteers came to help him out for a week, “the best of humanity won out.” Thanks be to Christ, who stilled the waves and silenced the wind with His Word, that even when the wind howls, the rivers rise and church buildings are swept away, the Synod walks together to rebuild lives and restore hope in Jesus’ name. Stacey Egger teaches at Thales Academy in Rolesville, N.C., and attends Our Savior Lutheran Church in Raleigh, N.C. Megan K. Mertz is managing editor of Lutherans Engage the World and chief copy editor for LCMS Communications.

Church members and volunteers unload a semitrailer filled with Hurricane Florence relief supplies from the Synod’s Disaster Response at Hope Lutheran Church, Wake Forest, N.C.

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From Our Abundance'



N JUNE 16, 2014, rare EF-4 twin tornadoes touched down in the small farming town of Pilger, Neb., destroying St. John’s Lutheran Church as well as about 75 percent of the town. In the following months, LCMS World Relief and Human Care Disaster Response — in coordination with the LCMS Nebraska District and thanks to the generosity of donors across the Synod — was able to provide

more than $111,000 in grants for St. John’s and other area churches that were affected by the tornadoes. Just over two years later, on Aug. 28, 2016, members of St. John’s and the community gathered in the newly rebuilt sanctuary for a dedication service. This past October, Disaster Response heard from St. John’s once again — this time with a generous donation to assist those recovering from another devastating natural disaster.

After living through twin tornadoes, the members of St. John’s Lutheran Church, Pilger, Neb., are helping other disaster victims.

18 October 2, 20

se]: saster Respon st at [LCMS Di ri Ch in s er st this Brothers & Si my judgment: matter I give is to th so in al nd t 4: “A work bu nthians 8:10–1 ly to do this on in t s no es d in te ad [Second] Cori ar re o st at your who a year ag as well, so th . For it ve g ha in u benefits you, do yo h at is t of wh it. So now fin mpleting it ou rson desire to do hed by your co tc g to what a pe ma in rd be co y ac ma le it ab ng pt others ri ce at si ac th de it is not mean ess is there, ve. For I do ha ur t yo no ss es if the readin ne do ir he er of fa rding to what that as a matt r t ei bu th , has, not acco ed at en th rd need, so d and you bu supply their should be ease t time should en es fairness.” pr be e y th ma that there abundance at , ed ne ur yo supply e abundance may a sense of th in Pilger have reached an o er wh th Lu es ch ’s at St. John several chur ns re ia we st e r ri er Ch Th h The passage. ed throug ou is Scripture tornadoes ripp us God ro to st sa ks meaning of th di an ter given th re in need af preciated and ap . ed ve ne ha out when we we of We . me ng our ti church buildi Christians in town and our h our fellow ug ro th ne do s e for all He ha urches from th ed a couple ch ne r ou We of e. me nc e ti abunda ifically at th us from their There was spec t and blessed ou through them. d d he an ac em re th that worked in He at Houston area help where th ty si give physical the genero to r fo up d me Go ca se d prai able an and sisters in as they were our brothers g in sh to ow ll They both gave fo en s Word. We wi ed. We have be to fulfill God’ sh they wi w as they were need no ed d ne an of their Houston area least a part at Christ in the ly pp su d abundance an use from our flooding. e ft deal with th need. This gi them in their ly . pp ey su rv lp Ha he e Hurrican e this gift to ffering from sings. su es e bl ar Please receiv s o d’ wh Go e go to thos st need with to te ea ed gr nd to e te th in gh is o have t be brou t it to those wh at true comfor th rd Wo s Please direct Hi th be combined wi May this gift His people. Christ, Sincerely, in Booth D. y th mo Rev. Ti theran Church St. John’s Lu

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All that remained of St. John’s Lutheran Church, Pilger, Neb., after twin tornadoes hit on June 16, 2014.

Dedication service in the newly finished church building in August 2016.

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QA &


Tell me about your work as an LCMS missionary. I help volunteers who come to our field walk together with the church bodies we work with in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, Ethiopia, South Africa and other countries as needed. I have learned how important understanding the culture and context is to doing missions well. Americans can inadvertently do more harm than good in a community if we don’t understand the bigger picture and have time to build relationships.


What’s most rewarding about this? The most rewarding thing is the friendships we have made. Once we have had coffee/tea and a meal together, we see the relationships deepening.

New Guinea, Krista Young always thought she might eventually embark on her own missionary service. In the meantime, she returned to the United States, where she became a director of Christian education, served churches in Missouri and North Carolina, and led youth and adults on mission trips. In 2016, Young finally fulfilled that lifelong calling by accepting the role of volunteer coordinator for Eastern and Southern Africa. She and her family — including husband Joel and daughters Sydney and Grace — moved first to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and later to Nairobi, Kenya, where Young works with short-term mission teams from around the Synod.



DCE Krista Young serves as volunteer coordinator for Eastern and Southern Africa. BY ME GAN K . ME RT Z

When we are free to ask questions about how things really are, we know we are “part of the family.” It’s through these deeper relationships that we are able to share our love for Jesus and the difference He makes in our lives.


What encourages you on the difficult days? Honestly, I am so grateful that I live in the age of technology. My parents told stories about writing letters and getting replies several months later. We are able to use different apps to talk directly to our family members and friends around the world. Our oldest daughter is in Missouri for university, and we miss her terribly. Without her daily texts and pictures … we would feel very disconnected.

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How does the Synod support you and your family? We have amazing support from individuals and congregations across the country who pray for and encourage us. We feel humbled to partner with these folks and to represent them in the work God is doing here. I enjoy getting notes from prayer partners … and knowing they are praying for the work being done here. We also have great staff in the [LCMS Office of International Mission] and Mission Advancement who work tirelessly on our behalf.


Is there anything else you’d like readers to know? In the short time I’ve been in East Africa, I have met lots of people whose lives have been changed because of the Gospel. It is wonderful to see the church actively seeking those who don’t know the love of Jesus and intentionally sharing the Good News with them. I pray that the volunteers who come and work with these churches catch the urgency to share the Gospel and help their churches grow in their passion for reaching the world. I love my job and praise God!

“It’s through these deeper relationships that we are able to share our love for Jesus and the difference He makes in our lives. ” |   L EA RN MO RE  |



uring His time on earth, Jesus Christ demonstrated that He cared about people’s physical needs as well as their spiritual ones. Today, the Church continues to care for physical needs in many ways, including through parish nurses. There are some 450 parish nurses serving throughout The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. Although they may be most visible in their congregations for organizing exercise classes and encouraging people to swap out the coffee hour doughnuts for fruit trays, their most important work often takes place behind the scenes in homes and hospital rooms. Parish nursing is a unique combination of

professional nursing and spiritual caregiving, and parish nurses are there when a member is facing surgery, when a new baby is born, or when someone needs resources or advice on managing a new diagnosis. “The integration of faith and health is what makes the parish nurse different from any other nurse you know,” says Dr. Marcia Schnorr, parish nurse at St. Paul Lutheran Church, Rochelle, Ill., and co-coordinator for LCMS Parish Nursing. “Many health-care facilities

don’t allow you to talk about your faith anymore. … But it’s not whole-person care if you didn’t include the Gospel. You’ve left the most important piece undone.”




The Synod’s parish nurses promote well-being in congregations, schools, homes, hospital rooms and wherever needed. engage. lcms .o rg

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e’ve got these core things that a parish nurse does, but the way that unfolds within your community can be so unique.” — Ronda Anderson

Parish nurse Ronda Anderson welcomes people at a funeral service at Bethany Lutheran Church, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Serving the Congregation Schnorr says registered nurses often turn to parish nursing as they near retirement age or, less commonly, when they have small children at home. The role allows nurses to continue using their skills while providing more flexible hours. Ronda Anderson, parish nurse at Bethany Lutheran Church, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, took the latter path. She first heard about parish nursing when her three children were young. At the time, Bethany was just developing a part-time position for a parish nurse, which Anderson was glad to fill. As her children grew older, she was able to take on more and more responsibilities in the congregation. Anderson makes home and hospital visits, serves as a health resource to members, coordinates volunteers who want to help others with transportation or meals, and promotes wellness in

the congregation in various other ways. Once a month, she assists with Bethany’s easyaccess service, so that members who have accessibility issues can still come to church and receive Christ’s Word and Sacraments. In 2018, Anderson became the point person for Bethany’s partnership with Family Promise, a nonprofit that helps families get out of homelessness and back on their feet. Through this program, the congregation opens its doors to provide housing and meals for a local homeless family several times a year. “We’ve got these core things that a parish nurse does, but the way that unfolds within your community can be so unique,” Anderson says. “I really see myself as being another set of ears and another set of eyes, listening,

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watching, caring and sharing God’s love with people in our congregation.”

Caring for Schoolchildren For Dr. Patricia Braun, parish nursing has provided a new way for her to continue her long career in pediatrics. After working for many years as a nurse and teaching nursing students at different universities in Chicago, Braun became school nurse coordinator for the Chicagoland Lutheran Educational Foundation four years ago. In this position, she serves 21 urban Lutheran schools and helps address health concerns that are often related to poverty or inner-city living. “Early in my career, you thought of school nursing as band-aids and immunization

|   L EA R N MO R E  |

records,” Braun says. “But it has changed a great deal. School nurses really are taking care of both acute as well as chronic issues children are facing. That’s a tremendous responsibility.” Braun hits the road very early each day — “to not get tied up in traffic,” she says, as well as to meet with principals and parents — and travels between the schools to conduct hearing, vision and scoliosis screenings. She also regularly checks in with children who have chronic conditions like diabetes to see how they are managing their condition. Since she has a certification in mental health, Braun also works with children who are dealing with a traumatic experience, such as witnessing a shooting. “Very rarely do I have a child that has not had a relative hurt,” she says, noting that there have even been shootings that have taken place near the schools. “That’s a lot of trauma for a child to carry.”

Dr. Patricia Braun, school nurse coordinator for the Chicagoland Lutheran Educational Foundation, talks with a student following a vision screening at Christ the King Lutheran Church and School. Anderson listens to a young woman in a family living temporarily at Bethany, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Anderson writes a condolence card before a funeral service at Bethany, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Since she can’t be everywhere at once, Braun teaches first aid to both faculty and older students to equip them to help each other and their families. But no matter what she has planned for the day, she’s always willing to drop everything to help a child or faculty member in need. “I can’t say enough about how much I love what I do,” Braun says. “It’s been a unique challenge. It’s used all the skills I’ve prepared myself for, educationally as well as clinically. But most importantly, it’s sharing God’s Word.”

Braun visits with a student at St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church and School in Chicago.

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Sharing Christ IN Kenyan Camps A team from Living Faith Lutheran Church in Clive, Iowa, joins LCMS missionaries and a local worker to share the Gospel in Kenyan refugee camps.

In the refugee camps

of Kakuma and Kalobeyei, Kenya, life is difficult for the 180,000-plus people who were sent here after fleeing their homes in Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Burundi, Somalia and the Congo. In Kakuma, the older of the two camps, people live in homes made of mud bricks with tin roofing. In Kalobeyei, homes are made of a wood frame and tarp. In both areas, there is little vegetation. Even though there are many organizations doing their best to provide food, shelter, education and medical assistance, it just doesn’t seem to be enough. In July, a short-term mission team from Living Faith Lutheran Church in Clive, Iowa, made the arduous journey to the camps with several LCMS missionaries. Their purpose was to encourage local Lutherans and to share the Gospel with those who had not yet heard. Teams like the one from Living Faith help to support the work of the LCMS and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya (ELCK) by walking alongside the Lutheran congregations in the refugee camps to help them share the

The Rev. David Kuhnle (right), who served with the team from Living Faith Lutheran Church, Clive, Iowa, shares the Gospel with the help of a local Lutheran evangelist in the Kakuma refugee camp.

|   L EA RN MO RE  |

Gospel. For one week, the 12 members of the team lived out their faith by listening to stories, exchanging smiles and hugs, sharing encouraging words and Scripture messages, and praying with these dear brothers and sisters in Christ. Seminarian Okach Omot Opiew from the Anuak tribe in Ethiopia said, “I didn’t really understand what [the door-to-door evangelism] was all about. Last year when I was with the group, I saw how effective it was, and after the team left I went door to

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door with the other church leaders, and we were able to start a new congregation in Kalobeyei.” Okach will complete his studies at Neema Lutheran College (which is also known as Matongo Seminary) in Kenya and will return to Kalobeyei to serve there. He has been very active in reaching out to the youth in the camp, and he desires to return to his homeland one day to serve the church there. During the trip, the team from Living Faith was

instrumental in connecting the Lutheran churches throughout the refugee camps and sharing the Gospel across many tribes. Trips like these also help the LCMS East Africa field office and the ELCK learn about the needs of churches in different areas. A few months earlier, during a trip to recognize those who had successfully completed the local Lutheran Hour Ministries office’s Bible Correspondence Course, LCMS missionaries learned that one of the congregations had not received Holy Communion for almost five years. Shortly thereafter, LCMS missionary Rev. Thomas Aadland traveled to Kalobeyei to teach about the Sacrament of the Altar and administer the Lord’s body and blood to those who had gone many years without it. God is present among His people in the refugee camps of Kakuma and Kalobeyei, and it is a joy and a blessing to be His instruments in building up the Body of Christ in a place such as this.

Shara Osiro is an LCMS missionary and communication specialist for Africa.




Compassion Centered on Christ, For All The Hyattsville Compassion Center at Redeemer Lutheran Church, Hyattsville, Md., provides physical care and Gospel comfort for the community.

Church member Teresa Greene holds the door for a donation drop-off at the Compassion Center at Redeemer Lutheran Church, Hyattsville, Md.

“When you have the love of God, you can tackle any situation.” Elma Pervaiz radiates both compassionate resolve and sadness as she talks about her work as coordinator of the Hyattsville Compassion Center at Redeemer Lutheran Church, Hyattsville, Md. Pervaiz, a refugee from Pakistan, rejoices in her work and life in the U.S., but she still bears the burden of concern for her children facing problems in her homeland. BY K E VI N A R MBR UST engage. l cms .o rg

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Top left: Volunteers Helen Joynes and Teresa Greene, center coordinator Elma Pervaiz and the Rev. Eric Linthicum pray together before opening the Hyattsville Compassion Center. Below: Dominique Williams holds her son, Carter, as she listens to the Rev. Aurelio Magariño, pastor of Christ, Lord of Life, Silver Spring, Md., during chapel at the Compassion Center on Nov. 10.

Right: Shop regular Christine Bidmia (left) shares a lighthearted moment with Pervaiz at the Compassion Center.

Pervaiz’s story joins with the tales of those in the community who come to the Compassion Center for help in various ways. In the last year, the center served more than 500 people; distributed over 6,000 pounds of food; and provided chapel, counseling and spiritual care. Many who come to the center for physical care attend worship at the congregation on Sundays. “This congregation has a culture of caring,” said the Rev. Eric Linthicum, pastor of Redeemer. One of the ways this caring culture manifests is through love of neighbors from various ethnic backgrounds and economic situations. Redeemer is located in a multicultural community.

People from all walks of life find themselves here due to the many public transportation stops nearby and the presence of both the wealthy and those struggling to make ends meet.

One in Christ Redeemer reflects its surroundings. The people who gather there are multicultural and international. “We have people who were born on four continents, and we have seven languages in our congregation,” noted Linthicum. Even before Linthicum was called to serve as their pastor, Redeemer’s members desired to serve. Their outlook is reflected in their congregational

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motto, based on Rom. 12:5: “We who are many in Christ, form one body.” “The love of the people here … it’s a blessing every time I come. It’s needed. Very needed,” said Carol Laughinghouse, a regular at the Compassion Center. “This place is a blessing. The people here are wonderful. Just wonderful.” Laughinghouse has been coming to the Compassion Center for nearly three years, ever since the staff helped her

through a rough time resulting from her son’s car accident. Now, she says, the people are like family. “We serve Jesus by serving others. People in crisis are able to obtain clothing and food free of charge on Saturday mornings at 10 a.m. … Spiritual help is always available,” reads a flier to advertise the Hyattsville Compassion Center. The center at Redeemer is one of 10 such centers all

“God wants you to trust Him. He is the one who gave His Son. … DiffIcult times will come and go but in Christ, God gives us the power to overcome."

Robin Thornton shops for clothes at the Compassion Center.

coordinated by the Lutheran Mission Society (LMS), a Recognized Service Organization of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. LMS, founded in 1905 in Baltimore, lists compassion as one of its core values: “As God has shown compassion to us, we show compassion by caring for people’s needs of body and soul.” The 10 centers are the means through which LMS seeks to provide for physical needs, emotional support and Christian outreach. “Faith is a driving force,” said Helen Joynes when asked why she volunteers at the Compassion Center. Joynes is a member of Trinity Lutheran Church, Mount Rainier, Md., which partners

|   WATC H   | A video about the Compassion Center:

with Redeemer in the work of the Compassion Center. She also noted that the people who come to the Compassion Center evince something to her. “It’s inspiring to me to see the hope they have. These people give me hope.”

Bearing Burdens Yet the work is not always

easy, and people’s needs vary. Joynes related that right now, she is working with a grandmother who is watching her two grandchildren. The people at the Compassion Center are working with this grandmother so that necessary repairs are completed on her residence, even as she battles with a stubborn landlord who refuses to cooperate.

“We all got our crosses to bear,” sighed Robin Thornton, a client of the Compassion Center who struggles with homelessness and difficulties in her marriage. Thornton attended the chapel service Saturday morning and rejoiced in the truths read in Rom. 8:38–39. “God wants you to trust Him. He is the one who gave His Son. … Difficult times will come and go but in Christ, God gives us the power to overcome,” promised the Rev. Aurelio Magariño, pastor of Christ, Lord of Life, a Spanish-speaking congregation in Silver Spring, Md., during his brief chapel homily. “There is not a moment in our lives when God does not love us in Christ.” The weekly engage. l cms .o rg

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Helen Joynes and Elma Pervaiz discuss business behind the counter at the Compassion Center.

The sanctuary of Redeemer Lutheran Church, Hyattsville, Md.

chapel services are staffed by Magariño, Linthicum and two other nearby LCMS pastors, the Rev. Peter Schiebel and the Rev. Gugssa Biru. In addition to providing food (around 10 pounds per person), chapel, emotional support and spiritual care, the Compassion Center also runs a thrift shop. Some customers come for the bargains, but most come for something more significant. “The people are like family to me,” explained Christine Bidmia, an immigrant from

A client leaves the Compassion Center with a bag of free food.

Cameroon. While looking through the items for sale at the Compassion Center thrift shop, she smiled and said, “I can shop anywhere. But I come here because they are family. We love each other.”

Sharing the Gospel Redeemer and its Compassion Center continue to share God’s love through their service to the community. Pervaiz works to help others and, most importantly, to serve

20 • LUTHERAN S EN G AG E   |   WI NT E R 20 1 9

her Lord. “When in Malaysia as a refugee, I prayed that I could work for the Lord,” she recalled. “Now my dream has come true. I get to work for the Lord through [the] Compassion Center.” “God sent us into the world not to help ourselves but to help others,” said Teresa Greene, a member of Redeemer who volunteers at the center. She lamented that there isn’t much she can do to help physically, but she rejoices that she can assist in

some way. “Hopefully, through the Holy Spirit I might be able to help someone know Christ who doesn’t know Him yet.” “We are going to share the Gospel,” said Linthicum, as he related that LMS had an opportunity to receive a new source of funding — with the condition that there would be no Gospel proclamation. “They weren’t willing to do that,” he continued. “Sharing the Gospel is essential.” Dr. Kevin Armbrust is director of Editorial for LCMS Communications.




In grateful response to God’s grace and empowered by the Holy Spirit through Word and Sacraments, the mission of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod is vigorously to make known the love of Christ by word and deed within our churches, communities and the world. (Adopted by the Synod in convention, 1995.) Guided by the mission statement of the LCMS, the national offices and departments of the corporate Synod work to synchronize the strategic internal ministry capabilities and coordinate with the districts, agencies, auxiliaries, educational institutions, Recognized Service Organizations and formal international church partners of the Synod in order to enhance efforts and activities that make known the love of Christ throughout the world.




re:Vitality provides resources to help churches invite, welcome and receive people from outside their congregations. Mission Field: USA offers a flexible framework for Lutheran church planting. LCMS Stewardship Ministry works with congregations to help their members manage life’s resources for God’s purposes. The LCMS Office of International Mission sends missionaries around the world to plant churches.



The LCMS Joint Seminary Fund supplements the Synod subsidy by directly soliciting charitable donations that go exclusively to supporting both of our world-class seminaries. The Global Seminary Initiative (GSI) equips and supports international partner church pastors and future leaders by providing scholarships to international students attending LCMS seminaries and by sending LCMS experts to teach overseas. Post-Seminary Applied Learning and Support (PALS) brings together recent LCMS seminary graduates and their wives for mentoring and continuing education during the first three years of their ministries. The LCMS Office of International Mission sends missionaries around the world to serve as theological educators.


The Seven Mission Priorities of The LCMS

What does it look like for the national offices of the LCMS to put the Synod’s mission statement into practice?

‘We have more going on in the next month than we have had in years,’ the Rev. Luke Brown noted after his Ellsworth, Kan., congregation began using Every One His Witness and re:Vitality resources. ‘We have reinvigorated our midweek and Sunday school programs, and I am hopeful we can see positive results there.’ — Rev. Dr. Mark Wood, Director, LCMS Witness & Outreach Ministry



LCMS Mercy Medical Teams provide desperately needed health care to thousands of patients in underserved regions around the globe. LCMS Disaster Response reaches out to LCMS congregations and their communities in the aftermath of natural and man-made disasters with services including on-site assessment, emergency relief and development grants, pastoral care for LCMS church workers and members, and other resources. The Lutheran Young Adult Corps gives young adults (18–26) an opportunity to grow in a community of faith and service through long-term, full-time service in urban ministry settings.



LCMS Rural & Small Town Mission and LCMS Urban & Inner-City Mission support pastors, professional church workers and lay leaders as they meet the challenges of leading Christ-centered outreach in their unique communities. LCMS Witness & Outreach Ministry provides resources including Every One His Witness to help churches and individuals share the Gospel in their communities. Together In Mission and Mission Central invite congregations, groups and organizations to partner with LCMS missionaries serving around the world.



Lara served as a Lutheran Young Adult Corps volunteer with Trinity Lutheran Church in St. Louis over 10 months, assisting with the congregation’s many ministries to its urban community. During her service, Lara even helped start a branch of Helping Hand-Me-Downs, allowing Trinity to offer a range of essential items — and the Gospel — to struggling families. — Julianna Shults, Program Manager, Lutheran Young Adult Corps

Soldiers and Veterans of the Cross support the transitional and long-term spiritual, physical and financial well-being of current and retired servants of the Church. LCMS Ministry to the Armed Forces supports the work of LCMS military chaplains in all branches of the United States Armed Forces. The LCMS Office of National Mission provides support to worker wellness-oriented Recognized Service Organizations (RSOs) including Shepherd’s Canyon, Grace Place and DOXOLOGY.

Lutheran Young Adult Corps volunteer Lara McCormack distributes food to the homeless at Trinity Lutheran Church in St. Louis.


ENHANCE EARLY CHILDHOOD, ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION AND YOUTH MINISTRY LCMS School Ministry assists, equips and uplifts school educators, district staff, education executives and congregational leaders so that through them children may be equipped as disciples of Jesus Christ. LCMS Youth Ministry and the Youth Gathering work through LCMS districts and congregations to lead, serve, resource and network youth and adults.

National missionary Rev. Adam DeGroot shares God’s love during a home visit.

LCMS U connects and supports Lutheran students at universities around the country.


STRENGTHEN AND SUPPORT THE LUTHERAN FAMILY IN LIVING OUT GOD’S DESIGN LCMS Life Ministry works in the Church and the culture at large to uphold the sanctity of human life at all stages of development. The Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty provides encouragement, education and advocacy relating to religious liberty and the sanctity of life and marriage. Worldwide KFUO provides Gospel-centered, family-friendly radio programming and podcasts. The Lutheran Witness helps families “interpret the contemporary world through a Lutheran Christian perspective.”

Faith in Christ Lutheran Church in Albuquerque, N.M., knew the challenges that lay ahead for St. Andrew Lutheran Church, the daughter congregation they planted in 2015. Demographic studies had revealed an extremely diverse population, primarily Hispanic, and a great deal of poverty. Yet thanks to the sending of LCMS national missionary Rev. Adam DeGroot last year, this budding Mission Field: USA church plant has begun to grow and thrive. — Rev. Dr. Steven D. Schave, Director, LCMS Urban & Inner-City Mission


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Spending: How Dollars Were Put to Work ($s in thousands)

Direct Services $54,054

Missions 67 percent* Pastoral education 7 percent University education

4 percent

Communications 7 percent KFUO

2 percent Constitution/ Convention-mandated direct services**

12 percent

Indirect Services $11,088

Common Services***




Total $65,142 *Due to rounding, direct services percentages do not add up exactly to 100. **An independent review by the Better Business Bureau categorized the expenditures required by the Synod Constitution and Bylaws or convention mandate as direct services (program). ***Human resources, legal services, information technology, accounting, audit, risk management, operational services.


Budget & Spheres of Mission Chief Mission Officer

Plan (Budget)


Available Net Assets Released

International Level 1, incl. MAF*




International Missionaries




International Level 2*




National Level 1*
















National (domestic) Missionaries National Level 2* To Housing Corp (subsidy) Disaster Response; Disaster Relief Pastoral Ed




Seminary Subsidies & Joint Sem. Funds




University Education







Global Seminary Initiative LCMS Communications




Mission Advancement


























Plan (Budget)


Net Assets Released




Office of the President, BOD, COP Constitution–Mandated Officers Work Boards & Councils Commissions (CCM, CTCR, etc.) Church Relations KFUO Concordia Historical Institute

Net Assets with Donor-Imposed Restrictions

Fiscal Year 2018

Chief Financial Officer, Chief Adm. Officer Common Services

Net Assets without Donor-Imposed Restrictions Totals


*Level 1 represents core activities. Level 2 represents projects and initiatives that are undertaken only if designated gifts are available to fund them. If funds are not available, these projects and initiatives are deferred. **Net assets released can include contributions (with related donor restrictions) still on deposit at the end of the prior fiscal year. Expenses in excess of Available (restricted) Net Assets Released result in a draw on available Net Assets without Donor-Imposed Restrictions.

Fast facts on Synod finances for fiscal year 2018 • Days of cash on hand for operating expenses • Spending over (under) revenues • Historic Concordia University System debt • Number of contributing districts • Income from charitable contributions • Unrestricted/undesignated net assets deficit

12.5  (up from 3 in FY17)  (Target: 90 days) $(9,440,000) (Target: at or under) $13,744,611 (down from $14,655,121 in FY17)  (Target: $0) 35  (100 percent participation) (Target: 35) $50,463,000  (up from $36,807,000 in FY17) $13,314,000 (improved from $13,600,000 in FY17)  (Target: $0) LC M S A N N UA L RE PORT

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Our Giving One of the greatest compliments we received this year was a handwritten note from a 62-year-old woman that simply said, “Thank you for helping me make a difference.” Serving the needs of contributors like her to enhance their joy in giving is LCMS Mission Advancement’s highest priority. In 2018, these expressed needs include increased transparency and accountability and a greater array of options for contributing to the work of sharing the Gospel. God blessed the LCMS mightily through His baptized people in 2018. We saw growth in giving toward: • Direct missionary support (up $2 million) • World Relief and Human Care work (a fourfold increase in the number of contributors)

• Undesignated (unrestricted) donations given directly to the LCMS • Giving for disaster response efforts including in the aftermath of three major hurricanes There still are massive challenges. We struggle to raise adequate support for national and international mission work, beyond the gifts that support individual missionaries, with fewer staff. Meanwhile, vital support from regular worship offerings continues to decline. Even so, by God’s grace and His people’s generosity, our Synod boldly carries the Gospel into all the world. — Mark Hofman, CFRE Executive Director, LCMS Mission Advancement


Fiscal Year 2017 (adjusted and audited) DONORS GIFTS AMOUNT ($)

SYNOD SUPPORT 35 434 13,906,801 Synod Unrestricted (regular worship offerings via districts) 35 428 14,719,875 4,634 6,573 4,724,165 Synod Unrestricted (contributions and bequests direct to Synod) 3,023 4,226 3,666,674 12,358 24,180 5,772,902 Shared Funds — Global Witness & Mercy, National Offering 12,406 23,608 5,695,753 15,997 57,003 20,738,566 International Only (work/missionaries) — Witness & Mercy 14,099 51,447 17,890,193 1,693 3,320 1,354,807 National Only (work/missionaries only) — Witness & Mercy 2,367 3,376 1,442,548 30,414 26,576 10,237,458 Shared Funds — Disaster Response Work 6,525 9,962 1,665,677 3,027 4,922 2,582,277 Pastoral Ed, incl. LCMS Joint Seminary Fund, GSI (general) 3,429 6,438 2,093,214 67 76 315,156 Global Seminary Initiative — Grants to LCMS Seminaries 1 1 100 1,421 2,558 929,725 Worldwide KFUO 1,562 2,732 647,221 288 3,640 517,931 Synod — Other Restricted Uses 601 3,551 565,243 69,934 129,282 61,079,788 44,048 105,769 48,386,498 SYNOD RESTRICTED CAMPAIGNS & SPECIAL INITIATIVES 39 100 7,871 Lutheran Malaria Initiative (conclude; pledge fulfillment only) 83 171 45,948 2,329 2,667 1,000,666 Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty (active) 1,427 1,704 294,163 147 232 67,996 Wittenberg Project Old Latin School (building, outreach and education) 1,366 1,514 496,838 5 5 572 Reformation 500th Anniversary Celebration 1 1 70,000 2,520 3,004 1,077,105 2,877 3,390 906,949 OTHER ENTITIES/PROGRAMS




Concordia University System




499 886 193,843 Lutheran Housing Support 585 1,052 205,432 843 1,465 420,850 1,054 1,819 377,806 FY18 figures are subject to auditing and adjustment. Amounts are gross contributions, not adjusted to reflect fundraising, contributor care or regulatory compliance costs.

To continue supporting the work of the LCMS with your contributions, please contact Mission Advancement or visit


Assets and Activities

Statement of Financial Position (Condensed)

($s in thousands)

As of June 30



Assets Cash & Receivables



Property, Investments, Other



Total Assets



Payable (Due) to Others



Deferred Revenue




Other Total Liabilities





Net Assets (Assets Minus Liabilities) Without Donor Restrictions



With Donor Restrictions



Total Net Assets



A Look Back and to the Future A word from the LCMS Board of Directors

Statement of Activities (Condensed) ($s in thousands) Net Asset Releases



District Pledges (Worship Offerings)



Charitable Contributions Released



Investment Returns/Sale of Fixed Assets



Sales and Services



Convention, Youth Gathering Total Revenue







Expenditures (Expenses) Missions — National & International Nat’l Youth Gathering Pastoral Ed/Seminaries, CUS



Communications, KFUO



Constitution-Mandated, Convention



Common Services 1









Net Assets — Beginning of Year



Net Assets — End of Year



Contributor Support and Fundraising


Total Expenditures Change in Net Assets (Bottom Line)

1 Human resources, legal services, information technology, accounting, audit, risk management, operational services 2 LCMS Mission Advancement — appeals, special campaigns, contributor services, regulatory compliance; full audited financial statements are publicly accessible at or


he LCMS Board of Directors has had nothing less than a full plate of activity and business this past fiscal year. There were highs and lows, joy and sadness, yet the Board faithfully fulfilled its duties in governing the corporate side of the LCMS. The Board has rallied around seeking efficiency and accountability throughout LCMS, Inc. Program assessments have been conducted in the areas of facilities management, information technology and administration by third-party entities. The results have shown the need for change and increased efficiency, and those recommendations have been or are being implemented. The entire accounting function has also recently been assessed, and we are now in the review and implementation planning stage for even more increased efficiency and productivity. To date, the assessments and implementation of recommendations have a projected cost savings to Synod of approximately $800,000 per year. The Board of Directors continues to deal with the difficult legal and financial issues that come before us. I am very proud of our Board, as 12 excellent minds gather to safeguard the assets and ensure the work of our Lord is conducted with the utmost efficiency and productivity. To God alone be the glory! — Rev. Dr. Michael Kumm, Chairman


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To all those who choose to contribute to the national work of the LCMS, who give of themselves freely even as they have freely received Christ's love and forgiveness, who by their selfless generosity fuel vital mission and ministry,

Thank you. Reader feedback regarding this inaugural annual report, including recommendations for improvement, is welcomed.





LCMS Mission Advancement 1333 S. Kirkwood Road St. Louis, MO 63122-7295 Special thanks to Thrivent Financial, by whose generous support this annual report has been made possible.

This eight-page insert — along with supporting documents, financial statements, board minutes and other information — is available as a no-cost, downloadable PDF on the LCMS website at

STATEMENT OF GIFT UTILIZATION Contributions designated (restricted) for a specific purpose when accepted are used only to fund expenses related to that purpose. Occasionally, the LCMS may receive more in contributions for a particular purpose than can be wisely applied to it in the foreseeable future or the purpose may cease to be feasible. In these situations, the LCMS will make reasonable attempts to contact contributors to apply their contribution differently. If a contributor cannot be contacted, the LCMS will use the gift to meet a similar pressing need that most closely matches the contributor’s original intent. Consistent with Synod Board policy, no more than 12 percent of a charitable contribution may be applied to the costs of administering gifts (soliciting, receiving and properly recording donations) and communicating with contributors. The annual ceiling (percentage) is calculated by dividing advancement costs by the total charitable response of contributors (gifts, grants and bequests including worship offerings) over a rolling three-year period. The phrase “costs of administering gifts” does not include expenditures related to the administrative structure of the LCMS as a corporation (boards, commissions, councils, elected officers, indebtedness and other expenses required [legal, auditing, insurance, etc.] either by law or regulatory bodies) which are to be funded entirely out of unrestricted worship offerings from member congregations. Contributions received and accepted by the LCMS are deemed to be in agreement with this statement.




An Open Letter on Transparency and Accountability “You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.” (Ps. 139:3–4) salm 139 speaks, in part, to the foolishness of deception and hidden agendas. God knows everything, even our innermost thoughts and motives. Over the past several years, going back before the last LCMS convention in 2016, we began to re-examine how we view and treat those who make sacrifices in order to contribute to our Synod’s mission. 2016 Resolution 9-04A affirmed that re-examination process, with a churchwide encouragement to improve and expand efforts to be transparent and accountable for how voluntary contributions support the Synod’s mission, its Constitution and Bylaws, and convention-­ mandated work. The first annual report for the LCMS since the mid-1980s is part of this issue of Lutherans Engage.


An electronic version is also available as a no-cost PDF download on the LCMS website. An annual report alone will not satisfy every expectation for greater transparency. A constituent may wish to see other documents or documentation, depending on his or her unique interests and needs. I hope you regularly read this magazine, which exists to provide stories and images of the very work made possible by the financial gifts and time voluntarily given by God’s people in the LCMS — and even a few who aren’t members of LCMS congregations. In addition, check out the social-media presence of the LCMS, which includes Twitter and Facebook accounts for many ministries, for information about the impact you are

having in the world. The LCMS also recently created an online “gateway” to transparency and accountability resources, accessible at Other steps taken since 2013 are not so noticeable or obvious, but space precludes a comprehensive review. Transparency and accountability are not optional in the 21st century. Meeting and surpassing peoples’ expectations in these areas is not an easy task, especially when standards vary from one person or group to another and the goal line seems to move depending on the audience. The LCMS is not a perfect organization with unlimited resources. To guide our improvement efforts, we submitted ourselves to a weeks-long, rigorous evaluation by the Better Business

|  L EA R N M O R E  |

Bureau Wise Giving Alliance, under independent standards applicable to all nonprofit organizations. In 2017, we received BBB Accredited Charity status, setting an industry standard the LCMS must strive to maintain. We remain open to constructive criticism and recommendations for improvement. Ultimately, though, we know that the true standard is not a human standard. Psalm 139 is a holy reminder to conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the Savior we serve, both publicly and in private. Mark Hofman, CFRE, is executive director of LCMS Mission Advancement, the unit tasked with meeting the needs of those who wish to make charitable contributions to the mission and ministry of the LCMS. Contact him by phone at 888-930-4438 or by email at engage. l cms .o rg   •  29


YOU are making a difference and changing lives with the Gospel and Christ’s mercy. To sign up for a free individual or bulk subscription:

• Call the LCMS Church Information Center at 888-THE LCMS (843-5267). • Visit

2019 IS THE YEAR FOR THE TRIENNIAL LCMS NATIONAL OFFERING, which will be gathered at the 67th Regular Convention of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, held July 20–25 in Tampa. To be “Joy:fully Lutheran” is to be bursting with the unfettered Gospel, with eagerness and purpose to share that joy with the world. Gifts to the 2019 National Offering — which can be made at any time during the year — will support Gospel proclamation at home and abroad, including in urban areas, on college campuses and with our partner churches around the world. Watch for more information in the coming months, and visit to learn more. CONV

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