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By Hazel Goldstein, Chair of the MNYS Strategic Plan GATHERED Committee

The GATHERED Strategy Committee of the Strategic Plan is an active and dedicated committee that is involved in many aspects of our Synod. Through Congregational Capitol Improvement Challenge Grants, congregations apply for matching funds to help with church concerns in the areas of building repair. While we cannot fund each request, we have been able to give over $1,000,000 back to our congregations. Funds have been used in updating old bathrooms, repairing broken steps, repairing and replacing aging doors and windows, and other areas of building disrepair. As a committee, we are always excited to see the opportunities presented and are happy we can assist some of our congregations.

Our newest grant opportunity, “Building for Mission,” is designed to assist congregations that desire to renovate or add on to their current space, to provide new opportunities for mission. This grant was offered for the first time in 2016 and we currently have several congregations pursuing this exciting opportunity. The committee supports congregations in redevelopment as they find their way to new opportunities for mission.

Education has also been a focus for the committee for the past several years. The Leadership Grant program, under the direction of Sue Brandt and the Rev. Jonathan Linman, has been active in awarding over $400,000 in grants to rostered and lay leaders, enabling our congregations to gain valuable training on many topics. In training our leaders, positive results trickle down through the entire congregation and provide a more meaningful experience for everyone. 

In the coming months, the committee will also be focused on building our internship program. Not only are we looking to identify ways to assist congregations with funding for interns, but will also work to expand the opportunities for interns to optimize their experiences and skills building. 

Lastly, the committee is working with Deacon Margy Schmitt-Ajer to assemble a Pastoral Care Committee. We are committed to support and encourage our clergy in their journey: physically, mentally and fiscally.

The mission of the Gathered Committee is to assure that Word and Sacrament ministry is provided in the Metropolitan New York Area. The committee appreciates the support of the Synod and its congregations as we continue our work!
2018 Mission Support
The mission support of our congregations makes it possible for us to walk together with others in the mission and ministry of the Metropolitan New York Synod and to support ministries of the ELCA. 

All mission support for the fiscal year 2018 (ending on January 31, 2019), should be received in the synod office by February 8, 2019.
*A previous version of this ad from our Stories of Our Synod 2018 magazine, incorrectly label one of the images as The Christ Center at Transfiguration
By Barbara Johnson, Chair of the MNYS Strategic Plan SENT Committee

Service: We strive to develop and deliver programs in our communities that help people in words and deeds
Partnerships: We determine organizations and ministries to support
Advocacy: We speak about and participate in specific justice and peace issues.

In our current political and social climate, there is a palpable discord and racial injustice in our society. Despite bold demonstrations and protests in the face of racially-related deaths, there remains racial tensions on our streets, and sadly, in our churches. In considering the negative consequences of these sentiments, the SENT Committee hosted a multidenominational Service for Justice & Reconciliation at Saint Peter’s Church/Sion Iglesia Luterana in New York City.

The committee presented a resolution to the May 2016 Synod Assembly calling for the creation of the Anti-Racism Task Force and later, the Anti-Racism Committee, both determined to face and extinguish the racism that exists in the MNYS.

Amidst the diligence to create needed change within our culture at large, our clergy of color were also among those not being afforded equal opportunities in securing a call or joining the Call Committee. Proactively, Anti-Racism Training has been implemented for the entire synod staff, all clergy, laypersons, volunteers, synodical leaders, Call Committees, boards, and teams, to ensure an inclusive space for all our brothers and sisters in faith. In the wake of immigration reform, our work has also led us to sponsor and participate in the Accompanying Migrant Minors with Protection, Advocacy, Representation and Opportunities (AMMPARO) Sanctuary Program & Worship, at the end of 2017. This critical work continues today as the actions of our government have yielded high statistics in the number of children separated from their parents in the quest for a better quality of life here in the United States. Learn more about the AMMPARO Program by visiting elca.org/ammparo

The Sent Committee has also partnered with Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, Lutheran Social Services NYC, and Seafarer’s International House to determine how we can assist them in the critical work they do daily among immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers.

Most recently, during the Sent Forum, we provided attendees with first-hand accounts of immigration, with a speaker from Gambia, West Africa, to share his compelling story. From leaving his family and facing fear, incarceration, and homelessness, he secured employment, reunited with his family, applied for asylum, and finally, obtained U.S. citizenship. His journey is the tale of many who seek a better life, and it is a journey that is rooted in self-actualization. With the assistance of Lutheran Social Services Legal Services, we have created and published Know Your Rights information for citizens and immigrants, which continues to be available for individuals and congregations to share as a service and platform of advocacy. 

The SENT Committee is building awareness and asks you to join with us to:
  • welcome the stranger
  • feed the hungry
  • care for the sick
  • advocate for justice for ALL God’s children
  • be the voice for those marginalized by society
  • share God’s message of grace with others

Our work is God’s work. We share this summary of some of our work and encourage you to share our objectives in your life as a Christian.
Make a Pledge!
In 2019 , the Metropolitan New York Synod will send 52% of what is received for mission support to the ELCA Churchwide administration in Chicago, which supports new congregations, missionaries, seminaries, colleges, universities, campus ministries, early childhood centers, elementary schools, outdoor ministries, social ministry organizations, advocacy, and community development on a national scale.
Partnership dollars come back to synods and congregations from the ELCA via grants, services, programs, staff, and resources. All mission support, including subsidized congregations, is a sign of our partnership in the Gospel.

In addition to helping us stay connected, completing this form makes your congregation eligible for synod grants.
Dear Pastor, Parish Officer or Parish Administrator:
In the coming days, your congregation will receive a number of our new “2018 Stories from Our Synod” magazine. We invite you to include them in your worship bulletins and talk about the wonderful things happening in our synod. If you need more units, please let us know by sending an email to info@mnys.org .  

God bless you for your help in allowing us to be Church Together!
By The Rev. Becca Seely, Co-Chair, ANTI-RACISM Committee

Jesus calls us to confront the sin of racism in the Church, in our communities and in our world. In working within each congregation and the Synod at large, we must begin the work of repentance and transformation, in order to confront systemic and structural racism. 

With your support, we have worked with Crossroads Anti-Racism since 2016, to host eight full-day anti-racism trainings for rostered and lay leaders. These trainings focused on systemic racism and internalized racism, and were provided in English and Spanish. We will continue to offer regular opportunities for leaders in our synod to be trained and empowered to do anti-racism work, as well. 

In addition to workshops with Crossroads, the Anti-Racism Committee has also developed discussion guides for congregational use. We are working with the Growing in Faith Diakonia Program to introduce a lesson on anti-racism this year, as well as to incorporate anti-racist themes throughout the broader Diakonia curriculum. We have had the opportunity to work closely with the Synod’s director of communications to help MNYS claim a more public anti-racist identity and give ELCA members an opportunity to engage in important learning, witness and justice work. 

We have also begun working with Synod staff to identify barriers and reduce wait-time for pastors of color, who often wait years longer than white colleagues to receive calls to congregations. 

We are grateful for the mission support that enables us to do this work and we pray that this committee will continue to find ways to empower leaders, change racist systems, and collaborate with congregations to bring about real change in our church and community. We are looking forward to continuing this important and ongoing work of dismantling the walls of racism, and building bridges that help us move toward true oneness in Christ. 
The Meaning of Christmas 
MNYS' very own Pastor Heidi Neumark, along with Cardinal Timothy Dolan and Bishop Michael Curry, will be discussing the meaning of Christmas with George Stephanopoulos on ABC's Good Morning America, on their Christmas morning show.

An edition not to be missed!!
TODAY! First Lutheran Church, Albany
Saturday, December 15
10:00 am - 3:00 pm

Worship, Pray, Learn. Bishop Donald McCoid from MNYS, Bishop John Stanley Macholz from Upstate New York Synod, and the ELCA Revival Team, invite you to a day of spiritual discernment, understanding change, and invitation to discipleship. For more information, click here.
Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Holy Trinity, NYC
Sunday, December 16
5:00 pm

From Advent to Christmas to the Epiphany, experience the delight of the music concert series of the season, from Buxtehude, Britten, and Bach. Enjoy these holiday offerings with Cantor Donald Meineke. To view the complete schedule of concerts, click  here.
First Evangelical Lutheran Church, Poughkeepsie
Sunday, December 16
2:00 pm

Come and enjoy a traditional German-language Christmas service. Presiding and preaching by The Rev. Tobias Anderson. Special Music by Germania Singers.
Followed by refreshments.
Frohe Weihnachten! For more information, click here
St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church, Bronx
Sunday, December 16
4:30 pm

You are cordially invited to celebrate the Yuletide season with music. The Bronx Concert Singers present Handel's Messiah Part I, and additional selections. With the participation of guest professional vocalists and chamber orchestra. For more information, click here
OUTREACH COORDINATOR: St. Paul's Lutheran Church, Port Jefferson Station—more information here ▶︎
DIRECTOR OF YOUTH MINISTRY: Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, Rocky Point—more information here  ▶︎

––––– CALENDAR –––––
TODAY, DECEMBER 15: SENT Committee Meeting —more information here ▶︎
TODAY, DECEMBER 15: WORSHIP, PRAY, LEARN—more information here ▶︎
TODAY, DECEMBER 15: Anti-Racism Committee Meeting —more information here ▶︎

The family and friends of The Rev. Mercedes Wantaug Browne, who died in Christ on December 10, 2018. The Celebration of Life will be today, Saturday, December 15, at 1:00 pm, at the Gregory B. Levett & Sons Funeral Home & Crematory, Decatur, GA
• The family and friends of Synod Deacon Muriel Ryan, who died in Christ on Sunday, November 25. See the obituary, here.
Victims of the California wildfires
• The asylum seekers who are waiting to be processed at our southern border
 For our work toward shaping a more inclusive church, which welcomes and affirms all of God's people, specifically our  LGBTQIA+ brothers, sisters, and siblings 
 For refugees, immigrants and asylum seekers, and those who come to their aid
 Those affected by violence in their schools, workplaces, and homes 
 The unity of this church and its mission
 Peace in our world
 Peace in our nation
 The care of God's creation 
 ELCA Young Adult in Global Mission, Ryan Morrow, serving in South Africa & Swaziland
ELCA missionary Robert Kasworm, serving in Tanzania
MNYS missionary Melanie Nelson, and her husband David Kingery, serving in Bukoba, Tanzania
  Bishop Jeffrey Clements, the staff, and the people of the Northern Illinois Synod