The pandemic has been a challenge, but God’s work continues in and through His people

Rev. Richard Snow, Nebraska District President, recently expressed his gratitude to the congregations and individuals of the Nebraska District for their faithful service and giving to their congregations, the District, and Synod during 2020, despite all the challenges they faced.

“You’d think that this [pandemic] would have just stopped us in our tracks, but it has been amazing to watch how both workers and congregations have done the work of God in the midst of all of the challenges… It has worn a lot of us out. There’s a lot of exhaustion, there’s a lot of frustration, there’s all kinds of difficulties. But our God is good, and He has worked good through us. Thank you for all of that work.”

While explaining the District budget, he said, “This year, we didn’t know exactly what was going to happen with giving to District, but we’ve received over $2.2 million of general giving to the District,” noting that this amount does not include funds designated to projects or to the Building Together capital campaign.

How are your gifts used? Our budget is divided into six basic categories:

Support of Synod ‒ $750,000

One-third of all of the undesignated gifts we receive from congregations go on to Synod to support work done across our nation and around the world. The Nebraska District is in the top ten districts in terms of size, and one of the top five in terms of support to Synod. In 2020, we were able to send over $750,000 to Synod. That amount, of course, does not include the many individuals, congregations, and auxiliaries supporting mission work directly.

Missions in Nebraska ‒ $1.1 million

Campus ministry is a crucial outreach effort, as it helps keep young adults connected and growing in their faith as they move away from home. We own and staff University Chapel in Lincoln, and our recently completed renovations to that facility have strengthened our presence there. The District also helps support campus ministry in Omaha, Kearney, and Wayne.

Native American ministry in Winnebago has been served for twenty-five years by Rev. Ricky Jacobs. Hispanic ministry is growing in Grand Island, Lincoln, Omaha, and South Sioux City. African immigrant ministry in Omaha continues to be a key way to keep Sudanese and Ethiopian immigrants connected to the church.

Outreach grants and training events for congregations help them to be the hands and feet of Christ in their communities.

Leadership Learning Communities have been an opportunity for pastors across the district to assess their personal health, the health of their marriage, and the health of their congregations as they seek to properly care for themselves and their congregations. Church Worker care includes services provided by GracePoint Center for Relational Health, pastors’ wives retreats, marriage ministry retreats, and more.

Church Worker Scholarships ‒ $200,000

About $200,000 is available for church worker scholarships, including new efforts to help new workers pay off their student debt. This helps them stay in ministry and stay in Nebraska.

Direct Services to Congregations ‒ $600,000

Education and youth services includes youth gatherings, educator and administrator conferences, and assistance with parochial education, parish education, and training for school administrators, teachers, and Directors of Christian Education. This category also includes congregational nurture, stewardship, and revitalization.

Mission and Ministry Support ‒ $630,000

We often describe this area as the “nuts and bolts” of our daily work. It includes the District Office staff and Board of Directors, our District Conventions, and communications. This area also includes our partnerships with the LCMS Foundation and Lutheran Church Extension Fund. Last fiscal year, LCMS Foundation gift planning counselor Craig Stirtz’s efforts helped donors and ministries put over $8 million dollars into their estate plans. Nebraska District LCEF vice-president Nate Meier works with the congregations of the Nebraska District supporting millions of dollars in loans and services as they expand and build.

Ecclesiastical Supervision ‒ $300,000

This area includes caring for church workers, calling and installing new pastors and commissioned workers, the work of the Board of Directors, legal counsel, training and work with vice-presidents and Circuit Visitors. One critical project in this area is helping new workers get settled into their calls when placed after graduating from seminary, and helping their congregations learn how to nurture their pastor and his family in return.

Rev. Snow concludes, “It is always a joy to see how God is using us as District staff, Board of Directors, and especially congregations, to reach out to our neighbor with the compassion of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Again, thank you.”

You can watch a video of this interview below. Congregations are encouraged to share this video with their members (it can be downloaded for viewing without an internet connection).