Dear Friends in Christ,
God’s rich grace and abundant peace be with you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
As I think about our Northern Illinois Synod, the words of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 1:3–4, resonate so strongly with me. Paul says: “I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you ... ” Each day, I give thanks for you, the ministry you have as a congregation, the ministry we share as a synod, and for the generosity of gifts shared for ministry. Thank you for your generosity and all you do in bringing the love of Christ to those around you!
Giving in Generosity
Generosity is the theme of our Northern Illinois Synod Fall Stewardship and Mission Support emphasis. This year, our synod enters into the third year of our three year stewardship emphasis ” First, We Give of Ourselves” with the theme of “Giving in Generosity.” I appreciate the great work Pastor Kurt Nordby continues to do in helping congregations with their stewardship work.
A discipleship practice close to my heart is to ” give.” As the baptized people of God, we understand our giving and generosity in the context and response to God’s generosity of immeasurable gifts, especially the gift of grace in our Lord Jesus Christ. For us, generosity is a matter of the heart. It reflects the joy and delight of living in and living out God’s extravagant grace in our lives. As we consider “giving in generosity,” God’s generosity is the model for us in our walk as disciples. It is a generosity that is characterized by unconditional love and sacrificial giving. Giving in generosity is the joyful expression of a grace filled life and the desire to share the gifts of God in ways that touch people with the love of Christ. As you and your congregation prayerfully consider gifts for ministry in this coming year, I urge you to provide ways in which the topic of “giving in generosity’‘ can be explored and consider how a heart of generosity underlies the sharing of gifts, whatever they might be.
My Invitation to You
As you plan for ministry in 2017, I would invite you to prayerfully consider how you and your congregation might grow in generosity and mission. Your gifts, and that of your congregation, are expressions of a grateful and generous heart in response to God‘s generosity in Christ. Your gifts and your congregation‘s gifts of mission support enable the ministry of proclaiming the love of Christ to reach the hearts of our neighbors, both locally and globally, in many wonderful ways.
Finally, as your congregation prays about growing in generosity and mission, I invite your congregation to consider growing your mission support in 2017 by 10% over your 2016 Mission Support Statement of Intent. In this way we grow together in generosity and the mission we share of bringing the healing love of Christ to a hurting world.
Thank you again for your ministry and the partnership you share in ministry w ith our Northern Illinois Synod though your generous gifts of mission support!
Walking with you,
Bishop Jeffrey Clements