A message of hope and growth set the tone for the gathering of synodical women’s presidents in Chicago, Feb. 23-25.
“It’s an exciting, heady time to be Women of the ELCA,” said Linda Post Bushkofsky, executive director of the organization. “There is much to celebrate, of course, but at the same time, we have the capacity to do so much more. Our [Tenth Triennial Gathering] speakers reminded us of that.”
With the conference theme, “Here I am, Lord,” presidents heard from Lisa Plorin, president of the churchwide executive board, Bushkofsky, and InFaith Community Foundation representatives who taught fundraising principals.
“When I stood in front of you prior to my election, I shared with you what this organization means to me,” said Plorin, recalling her speech before the voting body at the Tenth Triennial Convention in Minneapolis last July. “I wholeheartedly believe that the Women of the ELCA has shaped me in to the woman standing in front of you today.
“I’m passionate about what we stand for, and I can see so much potential for growth within this organization.”
All Anew Campaign for Katie’s Fund
At its meeting last October, the churchwide executive board endorsed the All Anew Campaign for Katie’s Fund with a goal of raising $3 million dollars by the next triennial in 2020, Bushkofsky reported in her message.
“It’s ambitious, it’s completely doable, and it’s all anew,” she said. “We have to look beyond the traditional paradigm of regular offerings and Thankofferings that have sustained the organization for 30 years.”
The InFaith Community Foundation is helping Women of the ELCA facilitate the campaign.
“When you’re asking people for Katie’s Fund gifts, you’re giving them an opportunity,” said Chris Grumm, a consultant for InFaith, a national, faith-based charity. “If you do not use this opportunity to provide the sustainability of WELCA, somebody else is going to take that money, I promise you.”
Equal Exchange partnership
Presidents also heard about Women of the ELCA’s new partnership with Equal Exchange, a Fair Trade, worker-owned cooperative headquartered in West Bridgewater, Mass. More information will be forthcoming.
“For the whole life of our organization, Women of the ELCA has worked with Equal Exchange, a worker cooperative dedicated to Fair Trade. And now we’re looking at new ways of working together,” Bushkofsky said.
Susan Sklar, manager of the Interfaith Program at Equal Exchange, said the organization partners with small-scale farmers and pays them above-market prices.
“We need to get more congregations using Fair Trade, and Lutherans have been at the forefront of buying coffee from us,” she said. “And Women of the ELCA has been at the core of that Lutheran support.”
Presidents also worshiped, studied the Bible, said hello to new presidents and good-bye to outgoing presidents.
In-kind gifts and offerings
As an in-kind gift offering, presidents gave $6,170 in gift cards, cash and checks to Sarah’s Inn, an organization in the Chicago area that supports victims of domestic violence.
At the final worship service on Sunday, an offering of more than $7,300, of which 25 percent goes to the Deaconess Foundation; 25 percent to Women of the ELCA’s scholarship fund; and 50 percent to the ongoing ministries of Women of the ELCA.
“As we live into year 31,” Bushkofsky said, “we can sit back and congratulate ourselves for what has been, or we can challenge ourselves to live into the fullness of our foremothers’ visions of this organization as a radical change agent in the church and society.”