As explained by Rev. John Polacok, of St. Matthew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hanover, Ontario, one of the best ways to keep members engaged in the Reformation Challenge is by setting goals.
“What has worked well so far for our congregation, is to set attainable objectives,” the Eastern Synod pastor says. “For instance, our St. Matthew’s Evangelical Lutheran Women have raised $234 for tree planting in Ethiopia. Their goal is $500. We are also planning to plant five fruit trees here on the property. We don’t have a ton of room here, but we will be helping take part of the program through Canadian Lutheran World Relief. We too hope to help them plant as many trees as they can, but it is really our women’s group and their goals that are helping drive this.”
Polacok has already seen his congregation both answer the call of the ELCIC Reformation Challenge, and deliver on multiple fronts.
Not only has St. Matthew’s contributed to the planting of trees, but they have already put together funding for scholarships, sponsored refugees – who are to be arriving very shortly – and have plans in store to donate financially to The Lutheran World Federation Endowment Fund.
“I am really excited about our planned commitment to the scholarships,” Polacok said. “We are hoping to raise enough money through fundraisers for more than just one scholarship. As one scholarship is $1,400, it would be nice if we could provide two of those; that is our goal right now.”
For a congregation that sees roughly 105-120 members on Sundays, Pastor John Polacok is very pleased with his church’s efforts thus far. But at the same time, he knows that there is the potential for a greater response right down the road.
“We are hoping to kind of piggyback on the joint Lutheran/Catholic commemoration service that had been done in Lund,” Polacok said. “We are working along with our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters here in Hanover to see if we can do a very similar service to that one sometime this coming spring. We would hope to have a free-will offering, in which our half could be used towards scholarships and help with The Lutheran World Federation Endowment Fund. We are really trying hard to embrace all areas.”
Although this potential service is still up in the air, Polacok and his congregation in Hanover have truly embraced the purpose of the Reformation Challenge, demonstrating their thrill towards the theme of being Liberated by God’s Grace.
“We are just really, really excited about this coming year,” he said. “We will be doing some other events as well for the upcoming anniversary, and hopefully if everything goes well, we will be able to provide even more money for the scholarships, and other areas; that is something that we all think is really important.”