Mt. Calvary, Omaha Awarded Synod Life Match grant funds
Are you familiar with Lutherans for Life? Does your congregation have a Life Team? Life Teams are, “Gospel-motivated groups of church members that communicate and share the abundant love of Christ, in life issues within the church, and outward into the community.” Rev. Jeff Duncan, who serves in the Nebraska District as assistant pastor at Mt. Calvary, Omaha, is also the Assistant Director of Volunteer Relations for Lutherans for Life (LFL), working with LFL Chapters, Life Teams, and State Federations across the U.S.
Mt. Calvary, Omaha, was awarded a grant as part of the second phase of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s 1 John 3 Initiative Million Dollar Life Match in support of their Life Team’s partnership with Essential Pregnancy Services, an Omaha organization that aids and supports those with underfunded and under-supported pregnancies.
Mt. Calvary has done projects such as holding a baby bottle drive and a dessert auction to raise their portion of the funds to add to the grant awarded through the Life Match initiative. The pregnancy center, which has recently finished renovating a new facility, will use these funds to create a prayer wall area for people to share their requests so others can know how to pray for them during their pregnancy.
One of the joys of supporting a pregnancy center, Rev. Duncan shares, is “knowing that the work you’re doing has long term effects in people’s lives.” When they visited the renovated center, there was art on the wall that caught their attention. A staff member explained that a young woman who was trying to complete art and design school became pregnant and thought that she would not be able to complete school unless she got an abortion. But with the support the pregnancy center provided, she was able to finish school and carry her pregnancy to term. She sent them the drawing of her new baby shortly after giving birth, in thanks for the center’s support during her pregnancy. “Knowing that somebody is alive and doing well because somebody else cared…even if it’s only one person—and we know it is many more than just one person—is what makes it all worthwhile.”
Young, unmarried women such as the student mentioned above are what most people think of as the typical client of a crisis pregnancy center. Rev. Duncan explained that Essential Pregnancy Services is up the street from an abortion clinic that treats pregnancy like a problem to be solved, rather than a gift from God. Many of the women who come to the pregnancy center do not want to get an abortion, but might not be aware of any feasible alternatives.
When asked how congregations can best serve pregnant women in their community who might be unmarried while still being faithful to the Gospel, Rev. Duncan reminds us that churches should strive to be a place of shelter and support for sinners–and that we are all sinners. “Christ didn’t come for the healthy. He didn’t come for the righteous. He came for sinners… We have all fallen and we are all in need. None of us are righteous on our own, and none of us deserve the gift of grace.”
Many of those who visit clinics like Essential Pregnancy Services for assistance are actually married women, often with children, who are struggling with the financial and relational realities of a growing family. By providing financial and educational support, counseling services, and items such as clothing and diapers, pregnant women are reminded that there is joy to be found in their pregnancy, instead of only struggle. Rev. Duncan says, “This is what care does: it helps, and aids, and supports your neighbor.” Pregnancy centers like these help these women and their families see their pregnancies as a gift of life from God.
Outreach care projects such as Forward, the ministry of Trinity, Lincoln, which provides supplemental food, wipes, and diapers to families in their community and which also received a Life Match grant, allow congregations and families to develop a culture of life in their community. (Read more about Trinity, Lincoln and their project Forward here.)
Consider the needs of your community and what opportunities there might be for your family and your congregation to address life issues such as supporting pregnancy and families so women will not seek abortions; supporting those who seek to end human trafficking; end of life issues for the elderly who might be lonely, struggling financially, or finding it difficult to maintain their homes; support of foster care services; and ministry to the disabled and their families. As Rev. Duncan notes, “Abortion is the tip of the iceberg—it’s what sits on top of the water. But underneath are the majority of life issues. Every congregation has the opportunity to see one or more of these issues in their midst.”
For information on starting a Life Team at your congregation, visit https://lutheransforlife.org/frontlines/life-teams/ or contact Rev. Duncan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A number of life resources pertaining to abortion, end-of-life care, ministry to those with disabilities, and more can be found on the District website at https://ndlcms.org/life-resources/
Prepare now for the final phase of Life Match grant applications!
The people of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) love children and families, and they demonstrate this love through many acts of mercy in their communities. To support these local pro-life efforts — both big and small — the LCMS has made available $1 million in matching grants to LCMS congregations. The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s 1 John 3 Initiative Million Dollar Life Match is a new matching grant opportunity to help LCMS congregations provide spiritual, emotional, and physical care to strengthen families in communities across the United States.
Projects must match one of three categories: congregational projects directly caring for families experiencing challenges at the beginning of life; partnerships with LCMS Recognized Service Organizations; and collaborations with local pregnancy resource centers. There will be four phases of distribution for this grant, with 37 grants awarded in the first phase of the project, 48 grants awarded in the second phase in December, and two more phases yet to be awarded this year.
All member congregations of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) within the United States are eligible. Congregations and circuits may collaborate on a project and application, pooling their resources and skills. Projects eligible for this grant include existing, expanding or new projects that support the needs of families during the beginning-of-life stage of their children.
Applications are due June 30, 2023 for the final phase of the Million Dollar Life Match. Application information can be found at https://files.lcms.org/file/preview/million-dollar-life-match-information and questions about the application process should be directed to Kris Freeman, manager of LCMS Life Ministry, at email@example.com or by calling 314-996-1217.