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January 18, 2023
Update: Mission at the Margins

In December we invited people to expand our Mission at the Margins at Eagle Pass Frontera Ministries, and the people of the Southwestern Texas Synod responded with overwhelming generosity! We blew away our goal of $25,000, with $34,600 raised! These gifts matter.
We praise God for the life-giving generosity in response to our Synod's End of the Year Appeal. This generous and compassionate response to "Mission on the Margins” ensures our daily humanitarian response to the migrant situation as well as seeding a vision for our long term transformational and sustainable dream of a Multicultural Immersion Center in Eagle Pass.

It is our joy and mission commitment to serve human needs of people who find themselves in the long, difficult and painful journey of migrating from their countries in search of hope and a better life. In the real faces and stories of these migrant neighbors we see the face and story of Jesus himself. Whether it is a meal, a bottle of water, a place to stay overnight, a prayer or a smile, nothing is taken for granted, everything overflows with sincere and heartfelt gratitude. To all who in different ways continue to be part of God's mission on the margins, thank you in the name of Christ. - Natanael Lizarazo of Eagle Pass Frontera Ministries
Gifts to Eagle Pass Frontera Ministries can still be made online.
January 2023 Portico Synod Communicator Update

Utilize text support: It’s brave and smart to seek help if you’re living with stress, depression, anxiety, or mental health struggles – but accessing an in-person counselor isn’t always easy or even possible. That’s one reason the ELCA-Primary health plan EAP benefit has expanded to include Talkspace, digital confidential online counseling with licensed therapists via text, video, or audio. Read more on myPortico.
Retirement on the horizon? Increase your confidence and peace of mind by learning more about developing a withdrawal strategy, utilize Social Security, plan for health care costs, and more. Participate in live virtual workshops later in January, or watch the recordings whenever it works for you. Learn more, or sign up to participate, on myPortico.
Getting started on your taxes early? The Richard R. Hammar Clergy Tax Guide and the Federal Reporting Guide for Churches are both available on myPortico at no cost to you.
Develop a ‘I can do this’ mindset: Deep breaths, time with loved ones, a good night’s sleep … what are your best practices for keeping yourself centered and healthy? If you’re looking to expand your toolbox, and you have ELCA-Primary health benefits, check out Learn to Live’s new course focusing on building resilience. Take the initial assessment and then enroll in the self-guided program at no out-of-pocket cost to you.
Annual Parochial Report Process

Watch for your report packet from ELCA in the mail this week! It will contain paper copies of Form A and Form C, instructions, and the password used to file online.

The online system for Congregation Report Forms A & C for 2022 will be accessible at: elca.org/congregationreport.

As in previous years, you can contact info@swtsynod.org or 830-379-9900 for password assistance.
Share Your Mission Support Intent for 2023

In 2023 the Southwestern Texas Synod will expand our impact in congregations and communities. With an additional $75,000 in Mission Support, we can accomplish bold things. As we work together:
  • Diverse communities will encounter a loving God through our congregations
  • Congregations will be accompanied as they make decisions about their future
  • The Southwestern Texas Synod will sustain its impactful ministry
We invite your congregation to return your Statement of Intent so we can immediately implement these priorities.
Equipping the Saints 2023

Saturday, February 4
Trinity Lutheran Church
Victoria, Texas

This marks the 39th year of Equipping the Saints, known for its many workshops that provide important insights and Biblically-based practical tools to equip persons to do congregational and community ministry and mission.

There will be opportunities for personal and spiritual growth, table fellowship (catered meal) with Christians of area congregations, child care for young children of attendees, and the experience of worship as the body of Christ. While the event is sponsored by ELCA (Lutheran) congregations, it is open to persons of all denominations.
The theme for ETS 2023—THE POST-PANDEMIC CHURCH, Renewing the Health & Vitality of the Church in Mission—will re-examine how we do ministry, the challenges we face in the future, and the hope that Christ and the Church provide.

Social Media for Ministry 202: Discoverable Algorithms & Vertical Video

Thursday, February 9
7-8:15 pm EST - Zoom

Taught by Pastor Colleen Montgomery 

Being a friend, follower, or subscriber to someone on social media is no longer the only way to connect. All major social media platforms are building in discoverable algorithms to connect people with new creators based on their interests and interactions. Understanding how this new type of algorithm works and being able to create content for it (vertical video) is a huge opportunity for evangelism for churches of all sizes. 

In this class you’ll learn what makes discoverable algorithms different from their predecessors and the basics of how to brainstorm, film, and edit vertical video. Edited recordings of the class will be shared with the registration list. 

Contact Pastor Colleen with questions at montgomery@vasynod.org.

Church Council Orientation

Congratulations! You have been elected to your Congregation Church Council! Let us help orientate you with information to make you a better leader.

Please register for one of the three trainings (Feb. 16 @ 7PM; Feb. 18 @ 10AM; OR Feb. 19 @ 4PM).

When you have completed your registration and before hitting the submit button, make sure you check the box that says "send me a copy of my responses" so that you receive the Zoom link for each of the trainings. One zoom link for all training. We will send out a reminder closer to each training date.

For more information, contact Deacon Darcy 830-379-9900 ext. 15. 

To help the Office of the Bishop communicate with Congregation Council Leaders, it is important to update your leadership information here
Lent in a Box

This Lenten resource is everything you need to guide your community through a meaningful Lenten season.

Participants in either an in-person or online equipping event receive all the materials they will need for two different series for Lent.

Community of Welcome

Community of Welcome is a 6 month program overseen by Culturingua that was started a year ago, in response to the 2,000 Afghan refugees that have already been resettled in San Antonio, and the 2,000 more expected to be resettled. The goal is for connection, a sense of belonging, and creation of a more welcoming city. 

Congregations, organizations, or businesses are matched to a family who has already been here for 90 days in order to help support them in their integration into the community by hosting at least 2 dinners and providing opportunities to explore the city and engage in mutual learning over a 6 month period. Other events are also put on by Culturingua during this time. 

Any interested group needs a lead person and core team of at least 5-6 people. The deadline for applying to this program is Thursday, January 12th. There is a training camp February 10-12th

If this is something that your congregation would be interested in doing, contact Andre Boyer, Community Development Director. 

Please consider this great opportunity to respond to our neighbors!  
What Does This Mean?!
Confirmation Retreat on the Creeds

Ebert Ranch
January 27-29, 2023
Youth in Grades 5-8—Group Registration Only

Interactive experiences will enhance your congregational confirmation instruction as your youth explore the Creeds. Everyone will gain a bigger view of the church as they play, study, and grow in faith with other confirmands. At least one adult sponsor is required to be present the entire time to help youth make the connection between camp and church. The retreat will be from Friday to Sunday morning. However, to accommodate those who must return to their congregations for Sunday worship, everything that happens after Saturday dinner will be recreational fellowship. 

Early Bird Cost: $120 youth and adults
Cost increases by $10 after January 13th.

Registration ends on January 20th.

Southwestern Texas Synod
High School Youth Gathering

"Love to Serve. Serve to Love."
Camp Chrysalis
February 17-19, 2023
SWTS Youth in Grades 9-12 — Group Registration Only

God calls us to serve others! 
Join us to explore why service is so important, and how being part of something bigger than yourself can strengthen your faith. 

The Gathering experience is all about interactive, faith-filled learning with other synod youth plus camp fun.

Early Bird Cost: $120 All youth and adults staying in an adult cabin
$60 Adults staying with their youth
Cost increases by $10 after February 3rd.

Registration ends on February 10th.

Cross Trails Ministry Summer Camps 2023: Register Now!

Overnight programs are available for youth who have completed grades 1-11 and families. Individual, Family Camp, and Grandparent Camp registration is now open!

Spots are filling up fast, so sign up soon. Campership financial aid is available!

Campers are eligible for an Early Payment Discount if you pay in full, set up a payment plan, or receive a campership by March 31st, 2023.

Visit our website for the availability schedule and more information.
Solidarity, Racial Healing, and Narrative Change with
Dr. Cornel West

Wednesday, January 25, 2023
Noon – 2:00 pm
San Antonio College McAllister Auditorium

The Alamo Colleges District will host author, activist, and educator, Dr. Cornel West to speak to the San Antonio community about the role of solidarity, racial healing, and narrative change in galvanizing social transformation.

Through a moderated discussion, Dr. West will offer wisdom and poignant commentary rooted in concepts of peace-building and racial justice.

ELCA Disability Ministry Now Accepting Grant Applications

The process for accepting ELCA Disability Ministry grant applications is now open! The application process closes on February 15, 2023.

Applications are open to congregations, synods or other ELCA organizations. 

We will accept for consideration the first 30 grant applications we receive through the application process in GrantMaker. Once that number is met, correspondence will be sent out
through our newsletter and blog. Please note that this may happen before the February 15 deadline. Of those 30 received, our review team will approve up to five grants of up to $10,000 for projects.

Interested in Serving on the Commission for a Renewed Lutheran Church?

The Synod Council will nominate 2 people to potentially serve on this commission that will begin its work this year.

For more information about this commission, click here. To submit an application to be considered as one of our synod nominees, click here.

DEADLINE – January 25, 2023.
Trinity Leadership Fellows

Trinity Church Wall Street, an Episcopal parish in New York City, invites you to apply to be a Trinity Leadership Fellow and join a diverse cohort of emerging leaders on a two-year journey of faith-inspired, values-driven, and community-oriented learning and mentorship.

This non-residential, free program will prepare professional and community leaders who are people of faith, as well as ordained leaders across faith traditions with the mindsets and practical skills they need to energize and empower their congregations and communities in ways that heal divides and disrupt injustice. 

Applications are due by January 31, 2023.

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