Our Synod has a Global Mission Committee that supports the Companion Church relationships with our Companions, the Arcot Lutheran Church in southern India and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania—North Central Diocese. Both are dynamic unique Churches and some of our congregations have a matched congregation-congregation relationship while others of us relate as a synod. We thought it might help to share what one congregation has done to get more involved in these relationships.
Immanuel Lutheran Church in Yorkville is an 150+ year old congregation with about 100 members worshiping in two services on Sunday mornings. Four years ago they started a Global Mission team and decided to learn about ELCA missions by sponsoring an ELCA missionary. They were excited to be matched with Rev. Kristin Engstron, Young Adults in Global Mission Coordinator in Senegal, eastern Africa. They have grown by learning about the YAGM ministry, Senegal and the Senegal Church. Rev. Engstrom visited the congregation while on a YAGM recruitment trip through Chicago. They were thrilled and started to think about what it would be like to live in a predominately Muslim country and being a member of a small Christian Church.
Like many NIS congregations, they got involved in the NIS project to rebuild the Tanzania Companion Church’s Arusha Nursing School. Immanuel’s BBQ Meal fundraiser was wonderful fellowship and they enjoyed being part of a synod event with Tanzanian brothers and sisters in Christ. Then afterwards several GM team members noted that the nurses probably need scholarship help so decided to keep the relationship growing. They have had fundraisers at local eateries plus a BBQ each year to meet our $1,000 goal. Operation Bootstrap Africa sent them the two videos telling about building the school and life at the school so they continue to feel closer to the nurses and church.
Immanuel also is learning about the Arcot Lutheran Church and brothers and sisters in Christ in India, who are challenged by poverty and rising Hindu nationalism. The GM team ordered ELCA Piggy Banks for Lent. Families contributed offerings as part of their daily home Lenten devotions, prayed specifically for these projects, and have grown as they helped with a farm project, bought teaching aids and repaired a water filtration system at the Paramedical Institute for training nurses and medical technicians.
We also have shared information about ELCA programs like Global Mission, World Hunger and Disaster Response plus Lutheran agencies we all can be proud of such as Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services and Lutheran World Relief. We weekly pray for our Companions in India and Tanzania and missionary in Senegal.
The Global Mission Committee encourages all congregations to sponsor an ELCA missionary. We can also help by contacting the Bishop in India or Tanzania for partnership projects you can help support or a congregation match opportunity. We also have articles about the India and Tanzania Churches that you can use in your newsletter for member awareness. Let’s make 2021 a new start for Global Mission relationships in all our congregations.
If you would like help from our Global Mission Committee members, please contact us: Chuck Steinbach firstname.lastname@example.org; Esther and John Prabhakar email@example.com; or Art Milton firstname.lastname@example.org