Thursday, January 14, 2010

Learning mission outreach in South Kitsap: Celebrating Faces

I struggled to post this week for a good reason. I had a grant deadline hanging over my head--I developed pangs of guilt when I sat down with the intent to post. Every time I sat down, I knew I should be finishing a letter of intent for a grant. Grant writing and blogging are different creative processes, but this week I've had limited energy for writing.

The organic, Holy Spirit-filled nature of this project for which First Lutheran Community Church is seeking grant money has been thrilling at times, puzzling at other times. I was inspired by many people to offer my gifts to this project. Thanks to my wife, Melanie, for always being encouraging about outreach ideas and projects. Thanks to Mim Krabler for being positive about ideas and opportunities for outreach at FLCC. Thanks to Kris Corteau for listening to the idea and employing an army of thoughtful and encouraging volunteers to get this idea running in three months. Thanks to Pastor Sue Lang in Pennsylvania for the tweet that directed me toward this grant opportunity. Though I have worked many hours on this project so far, the passion and gifts of many others have given this opportunity wings.

You will find a draft below of the Letter Of Intent I am sending to the Deaconess Community of the ELCA/ELCIC about our outreach project. Please feel free to post your comments and questions.

January 15, 2010

Rev. Joseph BW Smith
Interim Senior Pastor, First Lutheran Community Church
2483 Mitchell Road SE
Port Orchard, WA 98366

Mission Support Committee
Deaconess Community of the ELCA
8765 West Higgins Road, Suite 405
Chicago, IL 60631-4171

Dear Mission Support Committee:

Thanks be to God for an opportunity to share with you a dream of expanding mission outreach to the South Kitsap region of Washington. Our shared outreach is called “Celebrating Faces,” a vocation-based outreach--offering affirmation, encouragement, hospitality and connection to people serving in specific areas of vocation in the area. This dream has in part become a reality. FLCC will host its first “Celebrating Friends” worship service and meal January 31, 2010. We have some seed money to learn more about our neighbors and their work and invite them to worship and fellowship. We need more funds to be able to expand the scope of the outreach and get the word out through advertising and public relations.

Our purpose in this mission outreach:
+ Make public proclamation that God gives gifts for vocation to all people and that the application of these gifts are valued in the community.
+ Offer encouragement, grace, and thanks to specific vocational tracks through preaching, prayer, music, food and fellowship.
+ Offer opportunities to connect with people in their field of work.
+ Extend invitations to the unemployed and those discerning their next vocational season.

We plan to serve specific groups on the last Sunday of each month in 2010--
January 31, health care; February 28, education, March 28, law enforcement. As we learn more about our neighbors and the impact of this outreach, we will plan other target groups for the remainder of the year. Through the vocational nature of this project, we also seek to connect and serve the unemployed, those in vocational discernment, and the hearing impaired.

To fund this new project for two years, First Lutheran Community Church is requesting $20,000 over a two-year period. As we gauge the effectiveness of this ministry, we will seek partnerships related to our outreach targets for any given month. We currently have a small gift of seed money from Thrivent Financial for Lutherans for hospitality in the first months of outreach.

We at First Lutheran Community Church are open to ideas, support and prayer from the Deaconess Community. We have a gifted and committed group of volunteers excited to welcome and connect with our neighbors. We are thankful that for the support that you offer to many ministries in North America. God will continue to bless your work.

Sharing thanks and peace,

Pastor Joseph BW Smith


  1. Really looking forward to these services. Serving God through intentionally appreciating those who "do the work" is a great opportunity for our church and community. Thanks for putting this in motion. Next time you see me, ask me about the March 28th event for law enforcement, ok?

  2. BTW, whats the 'BW' stand for? If you don't mind me asking, that is.

  3. Tracy--

    With comment #1, I have learned a lot from people in the congregation and from my wife. The ELCA is being a lot more strategic about supporting mission. Social service type ministries are good, but I think they may be looking to support ministries that build relationships. Luther wrote a lot about vocation--though some have argued that his understanding of vocation and ours is a bit different. What I think is similar is that in baptism we are given a vocation to serve our neighbor using the gifts we have been given. I hope FLCC is able to make good connections with the community. I think we're going to learn a lot in the next several weeks.

    Comment #2

    "BW" stands for Burton Wallschlaeger. Wallschlaeger is Melanie's last name. We took each other's last names as 2nd middle names when we were married.