Director of Evangelical Mission Report to the West Virginia – Western Maryland Synod (2021)
From where does the Director of Evangelical Mission (D.E.M.) come?
The position of the D.E.M. is supported through your mission support to the ELCA. In order to coordinate the partnership between the ELCA’s churchwide ministries and the 65 synods of this church, directors for evangelical mission serve in positions shared by both of these expressions of this church. They are fully churchwide staff who are fully embraced by synods. My position in the Synod is 0.5FTE.
What is the role of the Director of Evangelical Mission?
As your Director of Evangelical Mission, I serve under the guidance of the Bishop and Synod Council. The 4 areas of focus include, but are not limited to:
- Mission development or “new starts”
- Congregational renewal or “redevelopment”
- Mission Support and stewardship
- Missional vision and planning for the synod
I began serving as the Director of Evangelical Mission for the WV-W MD Synod in April of 2020. Everything about the duties of the position have been affected by the pandemic. Issues of church mission and stewardship had to be viewed through the lens of “We’ve never done it that way before”.
Following are some of the duties I have performed for the synod in this position:
- Clergy Continuing Education Committee – Working with 3 other pastors we plan the continuing education events for the synod clergy. Ordained pastors are required to complete 50 hours of continuing education each year. We work alongside the Bishop who serves in an advisory capacity.
- Stewardship – I am available to help congregations with all stewardship issues including assisting with Fall stewardship drives.
- Worship leadership – I am available to travel to any congregation in the synod to lead worship.
- Visioning – As congregations look to their future, I work with them on visioning and asset mapping. While my former position as the executive director of Community Lutheran Partners had me working with congregations to develop ministries outside the church doors, as DEM, I help them work on internal issues. In congregations that have pastoral vacancies, I help with the preparation of the Ministry Site Profile. In congregations with declining memberships, I help guide them through the discernment process as they consider their options.
- Mission Support – Part of my role is to keep the synod’s congregations connected to the resources of the ELCA. Understanding how their mission support dollars are spent is crucial as we always strive to be good stewards.
- Racial Justice Team – I convened the group and schedule the meetings which bring educational opportunities to help people understand the complex issues which undergird the racial issues facing our country.
- Pastoral care for clergy and congregational leadership – During the pandemic, I worked with Bishop Riegel to provide times for the clergy and the congregational leadership to come together to share joys, frustrations, and sorrows.
- Synod Council Meetings – I am not a member of synod council but report to them.
- Holy Innovations Grant – I provide oversight for the Holy Innovations grant that the Mountain Lutheran Parish has from the Congregational Vitality Unit of the ELCA>
- Coach Level 1 – I became certified as a Level 1 coach and available to offer coaching services to congregations and individuals.
- Synod Newsletter – Plans are underway to develop an email newsletter which will be sent to congregations and forwarded to members as a way of keeping everyone informed.
- Innovative Leaders Team – I hope to identify 5-8 people under the age of 40 who are willing to serve on a team that will focus on the ways in which the Holy Spirit is working in the life of the church in the WV-W MD Synod.
- Synodical Cooperation – As I work with D.E.M.s from other synods, our hope is that we will be able to offer more ways in which we can collaborate on continuing education events for clergy and laity.
The Congregations of the WV-W MD Synod have exhibited incredible resilience during this difficult time. You have embraced new technologies so that your people can stay connected to the church. As the pandemic unfolded, you made changes to how you worshiped in order to protect the most vulnerable in your midst. You prioritized the continued financial support of your church and the Synod’s ministries. For these and so many other reasons, I give thanks to God that I am called to serve as your Director of Evangelical Mission.
Yours in Christ,
The Rev. Sherri Schafer
Director of Evangelical Mission
WV-W MD Synod, ELCA