By Bishop Ann Svennungsen
On March 10, 1957, the first worship service of the newly organizing congregation Lutheran Church of the Reformation (LCR) was held at St. Louis Park Theatre at 10 a.m.
On October 27, 2013, the members of the church, with its building along Highway 100 in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, voted to dissolve as a congregation and give the property to the Minneapolis Area Synod. For more than 56 years, Lutheran Church of the Reformation has faithfully made a difference by bringing the story of Jesus to life.
The closure (death) of a congregation should be intentionally and faithfully linked to new opportunities for ministry (resurrection).
Today, the congregation continues to make a difference through the work of the synod’s newly launched Resurrection Fund. When the LCR property sold in 2017, the $1.2 million proceeds became the inaugural gift of the fund, which will work to foster “new vision, new imagination, and new life in the good news of Jesus Christ.” A small task force developed guidelines for use of the funds – which the Synod Council approved at on November 28, 2017. Specifically, allocations of gifts to the synod from the sale of congregational real estate would be divided as follows:
- 10% — Tithe to an ELCA ministry, ELCA affiliated ministry, or partner ministry (outside the synod)
- 10% — Support of a “charism” (unique giftedness) of the congregation and/or a community ministry where the congregation was located
- 25% — New Mission Start Congregations within the synod to be approved by the synod council
- 25% — Small and medium-sized grants for congregations to launch new programs or help grow existing ones (Applications from congregations and ministries will be submitted to Resurrection Fund Advisory Committee and approved by the synod council.)
- 25% — A Major Impact Ministry Initiative guided by the synod’s missional priorities and seizing upon a moment of unique alignment of opportunities with Synod Council approval
- Up to 5% — To tell the story of the impact of the gift through various media
To this end, 100% of the proceeds from the property sale goes toward new life in mission and ministry in the synod and beyond.
THE TASK FORCE was also guided by the following principles and values to determine allocations:
- Synod-wide participation, celebration of, and access to funds are critical to ensure faithful stewardship of these gifts.
- Transparency and accountability of use of funds is paramount.
- The closure (death) of a congregation should be intentionally and faithfully linked to new opportunities for ministry (resurrection).
- The legacy of the closed congregation should be honored and remembered throughout the course of the funding cycle.
- Funds should be used to invite broader participation through time, talent, and treasure in the mission and ministries they support.
- The synod can provide important leadership through the use of these funds to encourage bold imagination and creative partnerships for the sake of the gospel.
The Resurrection Fund Advisory Committee will have its first meeting this month and will soon provide: 1) the process for inviting congregational proposals for grants; 2) review proposals and make award recommendations to the synod council.
More information will be forthcoming. Please keep the process in your prayers – as we give thanks to God for the legacy of Lutheran Church of the Reformation!