You’ve heard of Martin Luther. Now let the people of Augsburg Lutheran Church in Brampton, Ontario introduce you to Martin Mooser.
In conjunction with the ELCIC Reformation Challenge, the congregation of Augsburg Lutheran – located in the GTA West Ministry Area in the Eastern Synod – got themselves a moose to help remind their members to stay involved giving-wise in the commemoration of the upcoming 500th anniversary of the Reformation.
Okay, it may not have been an actual living, breathing moose, but the brown, stuffed plush toy has done its part to help raise awareness within the church.
Rev. Nadine Nicholds, pastor of Augsburg Lutheran, and GTA West Area Dean is very supportive of the efforts made in her congregation that are reflective of the Reformation Challenge’s many goals.
“Our members are really happy that we are able to contribute, and it is just an added bonus that it can be a part of the Reformation Challenge,” Rev. Nicholds says. “For the most part, our congregation is really on board and excited with all of the things going on here as of late. To stay focused on the goal, the Sunday school decided to get a moose; they call him Martin Mooser! The Sunday School is also emphasizing that the reason we are raising this money is not only for funds going towards a scholarship, but also to commemorate the Reformation anniversary. That really helps the kids understand the big picture.”
Augsburg Lutheran is currently involved in three of the four Reformation Challenge areas.
“In addition to the Sunday school raising money for a scholarship for students in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, we are also in the process of trying to get some trees planted,” says Rev. Nicholds. The congregation planted a memorial tree in honour of a longtime member who had had a love for gardening.
In 2016, the congregations of Augsburg Lutheran and fellow GTA West member, St. Philip’s Lutheran decided to pair up to co-sponsor a refugee family of two. After confirming the details, the two congregations received quite the surprise.
“We basically just said to Canadian Lutheran World Relief that we would take the first available couple,” explains Rev. Nicholds. “So after applying for what we thought was a family of two, it turned out that it was a family of five!”
Following conversations with the two churches, it was clear that both congregations were “easily a hundred percent on board” and had the resources to support the family.
“Everybody’s top priority seemed to be sponsoring refugees, so when we very specifically said that we will be raising money to sponsor a refugee family, everyone was very excited to be a part of that” she reflects. “Our two churches are only about 25 kilometres apart, so it works. The family has been here for over half a year now and we are learning together. Obviously both congregations have different strengths, but we are working together to help the family get settled with English lessons and get the kids settled into school.”
Although spearheading all three Reformation Challenge involvements, Rev. Nicholds is quick to dodge the spotlight, suggesting that much like St. Philip’s Lutheran, it was really the members of the congregation that helped keep the ball rolling on all three endeavours.
“In all honesty, all I really did was suggest it and continue to pursue it,” she said. “Both churches got on board quickly with the refugee part, and even though the other missional work is for something so far down the road, I have been thoroughly impressed with how involved the congregations have been. We got lots of pledges and it was excellent how quickly we raised money. I think that helping this family is the priority, and the Reformation Challenge brought this option to our attention. It might not be why we are helping, but it’s just an added bonus that we get to help in both regards.”