Here’s a report on missionary support from the July 22-26 Summer Missionary Conference at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wis. To support one of the ELCA’s over 200 missionaries in the global church, go to www.ELCA.org/4missionaries.
In the Upper Iowa River Conference, 28 ELCA congregations with 10,000 members sponsor Bayo and Mary Beth Oyebade in Nigeria, who serve at the Mashiah Foundation, a Christian, non-governmental organization they founded to reach out to people infected with and affected by HIV and AIDS.
Before the Oyebades began service, this conference had sponsored missionaries in Brazil, Japan and Senegal since the 1970s. Supporting missionaries is part of the ecclesiastical DNA and the Haugean tradition in the area.
Not every congregation in this conference is large — some don’t even have pastors — but pooling their resources dramatically increases their impact. Their gifts currently total $25,000 a year for missionary sponsorship, which adds up to an impressive $274,500 since 1996, the first date for which records are available. The story of this conference’s missionary support will be featured in an upcoming LivingLutheran post and in the September issue of The Lutheran magazine.
At the recent Summer Missionary Conference at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wis., over 100 ELCA missionaries and Global Mission staff members gave a standing ovation for the Rev. Mike Massa, pastor at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Cresco, Iowa, who represented the members of the conference at the closing banquet.
Also present at this banquet were Bishop Steve Ullestad, serving the Northeastern Iowa Synod of the ELCA in which this conference is located, and his wife, Ruth. Bishop Ullestad spoke about the Upper Iowa River Conference and its engagement in local and global mission:
“This conference is a gathering of congregations that support mission in a variety of ways. Not only do they come together to provide direct missionary sponsorship, but one of their congregations, First [Lutheran] in Decorah, has increased its general mission support measured by dollar amount and percentage of budget every year for 11 years.
“Of the top five congregations experiencing growth in average worship attendance as measured by percentage growth, four are in this conference, three of which are in open country or very small towns. …
“We are grateful for all you do to make Christ known throughout the world. Thank you for allowing us to celebrate the joy of giving and for our partnership with you in the missionary work of this great church.”