From the Worldwide Faith News archives

LCMS - E-mail drive raises $28,845 for World Mission

From Worldwide Faith News <>
Date Thu, 27 Feb 2003 19:04:58 -0800

The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod
Board for Communication Services

LCMSNews -- No. 14
February 27, 2003

E-mail drive raises $28,845 for World Mission

By Paula Schlueter Ross

It started quietly, without fanfare.  Three $1 bills, tucked inside an
envelope, arrived Jan. 17 at The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod's
International Center in St. Louis.

Wrapped around the money was a copy of an e-mail message from Paul Koehler
of Omaha, Neb., urging Missouri Synod Lutherans to contribute to LCMS World
Mission "at least $1 for each member of your household," and then forward
the e-mail to others.

By noon on that first day, more than $1,000 came in the mail for what would
be dubbed the "grass-roots effort."  Within four weeks that figure had
climbed to more than $11,000.

As of Feb. 26, the total had more than doubled, to $28,845 -- all of which
is being deposited into the general operating fund of LCMS World Mission.

The effort is unprecedented, according to Rev. Ronald Nelson, director of
World Mission Support, the LCMS Foundation unit that raises money for
missions.  Nelson says he's never seen anything like it, and he sees no end
in sight.

"It's really just the beginning, because I see stacks of mail four or five
inches high with gifts for this effort," he said, sometimes 50 pieces of
mail per day.

The final tally, according to Nelson, "could be significant," and he
attributes the success of the campaign to "the people in the pew, the
average church members," who are "very supportive of LCMS World Mission and
what they're doing around the world."

Koehler, a member of Divine Shepherd Lutheran Church in Omaha, admits to
starting the e-mail, and says he got the idea from a letter published in the
January issue of "The Lutheran Witness," the denomination's magazine.  In
the letter, Rev. Arthur Simon of Colmar Manor, Md., expressed his
disappointment about the financial woes of LCMS World Mission, which in
recent months had to cut staff positions and bring overseas missionaries
home because of a sharp drop in income.

The shortfall of $2 to $3 million "amounts to about one dollar per member,
two cents a week," Simon wrote.  The Synod has a membership of about 2.5

That phrase sparked Koehler's idea for an e-mail fund-raising campaign.  The
way he sees it, if every person receiving the e-mail responds, and then
sends it to seven others who respond, "after about seven handoffs, we'll
have our $2 million or $3 million."

"Exciting to see God's hand at work, isn't it?" Koehler said of the
campaign's success.

The only down side, he says, is that it's just a one-time "quick fix."

"Hopefully, the awareness raised will help produce a longer-term solution to
this critical situation," Koehler said.

Rev. Robert Roegner, executive director of LCMS World Mission, described the
campaign as "a good example of God's people taking charge and being
responsible for God's mission in the world."

The success of the campaign doesn't really surprise him, though.  "I think
that when you put the need in the lap of the people of the church, people
will respond," he said.

Still, he says he is "absolutely overjoyed and excited" by its outcome, and
by the impact it will have on LCMS World Mission and its focus on sharing
the Gospel with "100 million unreached and uncommitted people" by the year

Koehler's e-mail -- and the financial predicament of LCMS World Mission --
are touching not just the hearts of individual members but entire

Rev. Ray M. Rogers, assistant pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Easton,
Md., sent a check for $583.05 to the campaign, the result of a door offering
from Immanuel members.

"We at Immanuel recognize in repentance that we have not always been the
best stewards of God's gifts, nor the best proclaimers of Jesus' salvation,"
Rogers explained.  "But we also recognize by faith that His forgiveness is
available to us and to our beloved Synod."

Another congregation, St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Oconomowoc,
Wis., took special offerings at all four of its Jan. 25-26 worship services
to help offset the drop in gifts to LCMS World Mission.

Reading from 1 Cor. 7:29-31 and using "The Time is Short" as his theme, St.
Paul's Senior Pastor Paul Borgman challenged the congregation's 2,000
members to make a "sacrificial gift" to missions -- doubling their usual
Sunday-morning contributions.

The result was some $22,500 for Synod mission work.  An additional $17,000
was received for congregational needs, according to Borgman.

And Simon, whose letter inspired the e-mail campaign in the first place, has
challenged a congregation he serves in Catonsville, Md., to give 1 percent
of their income to missions.  So far, $12,000 has been raised, and one
member is contributing an additional $10,000 in "matching funds."

Koehler says he's thankful for the contributions that have been received,
and he's hoping "much more" will follow.  "But God is in charge and will do
what needs to be done," he said.

Contributions to the campaign may be sent to LCMS World Mission Support,
1333 S. Kirkwood Road, St. Louis, MO 63122-7295.  Please make checks payable
to "LCMS World Mission" and note that the donation is for the "grass-roots


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