Communities, congregations and sponsorship teams from coast to coast to coast have teamed up to help the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) meet, and exceed, its Reformation Challenge goal of sponsoring 500 refugees to Canada in just a little over one year’s time.
This significant achievement shows just how much can be accomplished when communities come together In Mission for Others.
Pastor, Brad Mittleholtz, of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, and New Beginnings Interdenominational Refugee Sponsorship Group in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, has seen his community come together like never before to provide various forms of help to these incoming families.
“We started by sponsoring one family, but after that we realized that we have enough capacity – both financially and our volunteers – to go for three families,” he said. “We have a large group here, but none of it would have been possible without the support from our community.”
Although only averaging a weekly attendance of 75-100 people, MIttleholtz believes that roughly 25 people in the church have since taken on leadership roles in this project. On top of the support from his Lutheran church, additional assistance has come from outside the walls of his congregation.
“Many folks from around the neighbourhood are clearing houses after hearing we could use some help,” Mittleholtz said. “It’s amazing. Obviously Zion Lutheran started the awareness, but we have all sorts of other denominations helping us out financially who had heard of this project, and what we are doing.”
A similar community-style refugee sponsorship team located in Brockton, Ontario, as well as Mount Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Waterloo, Ontario, have also each stepped up to the plate and recently delivered in the form of refugee sponsorship. The Brockton Area Refugee Team has committed to sponsoring a family of refugees, while Mount Zion has received seven refugees.
Although already surpassing 500 sponsored refugees, the ELCIC encourages the continuation of providing support towards refugees coming to Canada. Planting trees, supporting scholarships and donating to The Lutheran World Federation Endowment Fund are additioanl ways to become involved in the ELCIC Reformation Challenge.
To find out more about the ELCIC Reformation Challenge and how you can get involved, visit: elcic.ca/ReformationChallenge
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is Canada’s largest Lutheran denomination with 114,592 baptized members in 525 congregations. It is a member of the Lutheran World Federation, the Canadian Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches.
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