Advent Peace to you,
In this season, we reflect on those words that call to mind for us “Advent.” Among them: hope, peace, watch, prepare, expect, anticipate and a number of others. The words of the Old Testament prophets remind us that the Lord, our God, is in our midst, so that our hands will not grow weak; so that we will fear disaster no more; so that we can be gathered, renowned and praised among all the peoples of the earth (Zephaniah 3:17-20).
As we look towards 2016, invite you to consider our purpose as the Church, so that all might experience the love of Christ. In the midst of the world’s anxiety and fear, we cling to common values of respect, care, courage, and collaboration.
In that Spirit I have come to deeply appreciate the words of our Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton as she continually reminds us that “we are church together”. We are simply able to do ministry more effectively as a collective body. Especially as we come upon a year of electing a new bishop in Greater Milwaukee, one of the best things we can do is to maintain a strong level of Mission Support. In a time of often beleaguered congregational budgets, it is not uncommon to hear the words “can the synod help us?” Sometimes we can, but only if there are resources to offer. Last year at the synod assembly, I asked our congregations to understand the importance of maintaining a certain threshold of general mission support in order to allow us to be truly “church together”.
As we approach the end of the fiscal year, I give thanks for the ways in which your congregational giving reflects trust that God’s Spirit is active and transforming. I invite you to consider meeting your congregation’s financial commitment, or even growing this portion to model and encourage generous giving to others. The approved budget for 2015 is $2 million. A budget of 2016/17 with receipts from General Mission Support of $2,050,000 was adopted by our Synod Assembly.
Should we meet that challenge goal, our synod has committed designating the extra $50,000 towards local Greater Milwaukee Synod ministries. Your participation in these ministries together enables us to achieve a scale and scope that could not be done otherwise.
Thank you for your continued partnership in the Gospel. May the coming of Jesus birth in each of us a new found hope in our church and the world.
Peace in Christ,
Bishop Jeff Barrow, Greater Milwaukee Synod