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NALC receives $1 million gift for missions, theological education

The North American Lutheran Church (NALC) has received a $1 million gift that will expand the new church body’s work in carrying out its mission and in training and educating its pastors. The NALC will use the gift to launch two designated funds that will be significant for the church body’s future.

One fund will support theological education, both the initial training and continuing education of NALC pastors. The other fund will be used to provide “Great Commission Grants” to fund special mission projects, including new congregation starts, missionaries, and other outreach initiatives.

Ryan Schwarz

The two new funds will enable individuals and congregations to support the NALC’s priority ministry initiatives above and beyond basic operating support.

The million dollar gift was given by Tom and Saundra Smith of Elderton, Pennsylvania. The Smiths are members of Mount Union Lutheran Church there. The Smiths were reluctant to be recognized for their gift, according to a NALC source, but they agreed to the public announcement because it could inspire others to support these special NALC projects.

“What a marvelous gift from Tom and Saundra Smith. Their generosity is a sign of their confidence in the future of the North American Lutheran Church and their personal commitment to our mission. The funds they have provided will enable us to carry out a vigorous ministry and outreach,” said the Rev. Paull Spring, NALC bishop.

“I hope that their gift will motivate all of us to be generous supporters of the North American Lutheran Church,” Bishop Spring said.

“The new ‘Great Commission Grants’ reflect the NALC’s commitment to be a mission-driven church. We want to keep the true mission of the church to preach the gospel and make disciples for Christ at the center of the NALC’s common life. This fund is an expression of that commitment,” said Ryan Schwarz, NALC treasurer.

“The NALC has also set a goal to provide funding for the seminary education of its pastors through support from its members. This gift provides us a good start toward that goal as well,” he said.

The costs of building an institution

The NALC’s general operations are funded by its congregations through their benevolence offerings. The two new funds will enable individuals and congregations to support the NALC’s priority ministry initiatives above and beyond basic operating support.

“We have been very pleased by the support the NALC has received from its congregations and from many individuals,” Schwarz said.

The NALC executive council also set aside a portion of the gift as a contingency fund for NALC operations. “In these still-challenging economic times, we think it prudent to establish a sort of ‘rainy day fund’ for the church,” Schwarz said.

More than 130 congregations have voted to join the NALC since its inception six months ago. The church body has been adding several congregations a week, according to Schwarz.

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