NewsFeed

Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF) is a unique ministry-through-investment organization that offers Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod members the opportunity to invest their money, earn interest, and help build LCMS churches and schools at the same time.

LCEF - Central Region serves Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod organizations and members in Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Learn more about LCEF at lcef.org.

 

Loving Boldly: 2017 LCEF Fall Leadership Conference

 LCEF President and CEO Rev. Bart Day speaks at the 2017 Fall Leadership Conference.

LCEF President and CEO Rev. Bart Day speaks at the 2017 Fall Leadership Conference.

Well into its third decade, the Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF) 2017 Fall Leadership Conference continued its tradition of presenting the Gospel-inspired results and benefits of church extension work. This year’s conference was held in New Orleans on Nov. 17-19.

Organized around their annual corporate meeting, the conference serves as an opportunity to acknowledge and applaud all that God has done through LCEF’s partnerships with The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS).

Every year the conference follows a theme. This year’s theme was “Love Boldly.”

In his opening remarks, LCEF Senior Vice President – Ministry Support and conference emcee Max Biesenthal noted the noble nature of “loving boldly.” In practice, he said, “we tend to love the things we like,” such as ice cream, naps, our children, sunsets and books. Instead, loving boldly challenges us to love the unlovable just as Christ has shown us.

One ministry loving boldly was Redeeming Life Maternity Home. This home for unwed mothers in Sanford, Fla., offers a safe haven for women who may not know a pro-life Christian option is available to them. Pastor Ed and Sheryl DeWitt started the ministry when their unmarried daughter learned she was pregnant and knew that abortion was not an option. Their daughter shared her situation with the congregation and asked for their support—and it was given in abundance. LCEF gave Redeeming Life the 2017 Fred E. Lietz Mission Project Award.

“I loved hearing the stories of the awardees,” Rev. Jeffery David Nickel of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Clarence, N.Y. said. “It’s encouraging to hear how God is working around us, often in small, nearly invisible ways,” through His people and investors. “It’s a testament that LCEF support makes a difference in the Church.”

For his tireless and charitable work at his congregation and in the community, Rev. Dennis Bartels received the Lietz Individual Ministry Award. Bartels is a 35-year veteran of Holy Cross in North Miami and LCEF advocate.

Florida-Georgia District President Greg Walton said the following about Bartels’ generosity: “Their school feeds 400 students both breakfast and lunch. And when Irma went through Miami and the school lost power, instead of losing all the food in their refrigerators they grilled it and gave it away.”

The awards are named in honor of Fred E. Lietz, an early church extension pioneer and LCEF’s first president.

 Photo courtesy of Lee Rohlf. From left to right: Dave Dravecky; Herman Cain; Rev. Bart Day; Rev. Dr. John Nunes; Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison.

Photo courtesy of Lee Rohlf. From left to right: Dave Dravecky; Herman Cain; Rev. Bart Day; Rev. Dr. John Nunes; Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison.

Joy and loving boldly
Noteworthy speakers like radio talk show host and former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain and former San Francisco Giants baseball player Dave Dravecky advanced the 2017 conference theme in their one-of-a-kind ways.

Dravecky shared the story of losing his pitching arm to cancer and how the bold love of friends helped him navigate that dark period of his life. Cain spoke about the idea that “you cannot love boldly unless you are happy.” He then explained how to achieve that happiness: have something to do; have someone to love (starting with Jesus); and have something to hope for.
Cain’s point about happiness wasn’t lost on LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison who spoke Saturday morning. Harrison said, “If we cease caring for the least, the lost, the last, the disaster victim, the divorced, the struggling, the broken, we lose the soul of the Church. Bold love requires us to be joyful—joyfully Lutheran.”

Other speakers included LCEF President and CEO Rev. Bart Day; Executive Director of the Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty Greg Seltz; and Concordia College New York President Rev. Dr. John Nunes.

“Dr. Nunes’ presentation had the biggest impact on me,” said Rev. Jason Shaw of Saint Paul Lutheran Church, Jackson, Mo. “I loved his personal testimony. He removed fears that I have about changing trends in our culture and gave me hope that the best of the LCMS will survive and prayerfully thrive.”

 Photo courtesy of Lee Rohlf. Fall Leadership Conference attendees fill care packages for inmates at Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola during the Servant Event.

Photo courtesy of Lee Rohlf. Fall Leadership Conference attendees fill care packages for inmates at Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola during the Servant Event.

The Servant Event, hosted just hours before the conference officially starts on Friday, is the highlight of the weekend for many attendees. This event invites people to participate in a benevolence project. This year, care packages were filled for inmates at Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola.

LCMS Northern Illinois District President Dan Gilbert, who attended the Servant Event with his wife, said, “The very positive atmosphere and the encouragement to continue faithfully in the Lord’s mission makes this one of the best LCMS events I attend, year after year.”
Saturday afternoon was dedicated to LCEF’s annual meeting, which serves as an official review of the fund and current organization objectives. LCEF Board of Directors (BOD), officers, members-at-large, former staff, district vice presidents and district voting delegates attended this two-hour gathering.

 Photo courtesy of Lee Rohlf. LCEF staff members pray after filling the truck with the care packages assembled during the Servant Event.

Photo courtesy of Lee Rohlf. LCEF staff members pray after filling the truck with the care packages assembled during the Servant Event.

George Cook, international consulting director with Graystone Consulting, shared an overview of the economy, as well as an investment market presentation. LCEF President and CEO Rev. Bart Day reported on LCEF’s 2017 fiscal year performance metrics; announcement of earnings distribution to the Synod and partner districts; and core initiatives for 2018 fiscal year. 


To fill a vacant BOD seat in the West Region, members voted and elected Dale Wagner. Wagner is a retired  finance executive and sat on the LCEF Rocky Mountain District Loan Committee. To fill a vacancy in the East Central Region, members voted and elected Don Scifres. Scifres is President of SmartFile in Indianapolis and serves on the LCMS Indiana District Board of Directors. Incumbents Michael Kzirian and Mark Pieper, both up for re-election, kept their BOD seats. Additionally, a vacancy in an At-Large position was filled with the election of David Worthington by the LCMS Board of Directors at their November 2017 meeting.


Ending on a strong note
There was a general feeling that the love boldly theme energized the attendees and all the presenters connected back to it. This truth could be seen on display during Sunday’s Divine Service. 

Rev. Dr. Ulmer Marshall, first vice president of the Southern District, preached on 1 Corinthians 13:13, the conference verse. He said, “When we are dire and in despair we need to have hope, unconditional love. We need to keep reminding those who are hurting of this truth, through words and deeds, God is love.” 

He left the audience with this thought-provoking question: “Does the world know how much we love?” 

LCEF, a non-profit organization, has served as the financial extension of the LCMS since 1978, offering funding and resources to congregations, schools and Rostered Church Workers through investment support of LCMS members.

The mission of LCEF is to support the Church in fulfilling its mission of sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ by being a Christ-centered servant partner of the LCMS, ensuring that funds and services are available now and in the future.

WI State Youth Gathering Heroes!

 Saturday evening worship was hosted by Trinity Lutheran Church, Wisconsin Dells and officiated by Rev. Matt Gehrke.

Saturday evening worship was hosted by Trinity Lutheran Church, Wisconsin Dells and officiated by Rev. Matt Gehrke.

More than 260 high school youth and adult leaders joined together to learn, study, worship and experience fellowship at the 2017 Wisconsin State Youth Gathering on November 3-5 at the Kalahari Resort, Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. 

Based upon Hebrews 1:1-5, the gathering theme was “HERO: Greater. Better. True.” Students spent time in God’s Word, praising Him with music and learning about the true Hero—Jesus.

Saturday evening worship was hosted by Trinity Lutheran Church, Wisconsin Dells and officiated by Rev. Matt Gehrke.

Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF) North Wisconsin and South Wisconsin Districts were blessed to partner as sponsors of this uplifting event. In appreciation of the youth, LCEF also provided an online LCEF Gift Card Giveaway at the gathering. 

The four LCEF gift card recipients—announced at the Mass Event on Sunday morning—were Gavin Zawicki, Trinity Lutheran Church, Racine; Clay Schult, Trinity Lutheran Church, Wausau; Ryan Lampi, Christ Lutheran, Abbotsford and Lauren Issacson, Immanuel Lutheran, Brookfield—all of Wisconsin.


LCEF offers the Young Investors (Y.I.) Club for young people to help others learn about Jesus and save for their own futures.

Features of the Young Investors (Y.I.) StewardAcccount®
•    Minimum of $25 to open account (ages 0-18)
•    Premium interest rates on balances up to $1,000
•    Savings are accessible
•    Extra Credit of up to $50/year for community service and good grades (ages 7-18)
•    Checks and Visa® debit card available to custodian
•    Debit card available to your child at age 16
•    Interest compounded and paid monthly
•    Opportunity to make additional investments with checks or Y.I. Stamps
 

Learn more at lcef.org.

LCEF is a nonprofit religious organization; therefore, LCEF investments are not FDIC-insured bank deposit accounts. This is not an offer to sell investments, nor a solicitation to buy. LCEF will offer and sell its securities only in states where authorized. The offer is made solely by LCEF's Offering Circular. Investors should carefully read the Offering Circular, which more fully describes associated risks. StewardAccount access features are offered through UMB Bank n.a. The StewardAccount is not available to investors in South Carolina.

Faith, Sturtevant Receives First Loan Rebate

 LCEF SWD VP Diana Raasch presented LCEF Advocate Damien Gouff and Pastor Jeffrey Mortenson with their congregation's first LCEF loan rebate check at Faith Lutheran Church, Sturtevant, Wisc. on Sept. 17, 2017.

LCEF SWD VP Diana Raasch presented LCEF Advocate Damien Gouff and Pastor Jeffrey Mortenson with their congregation's first LCEF loan rebate check at Faith Lutheran Church, Sturtevant, Wisc. on Sept. 17, 2017.

Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF) South Wisconsin District (SWD) Vice President Diana Raasch worshiped with Faith Lutheran Church, Sturtevant WI on September 17, 2017.

“It was an honor to bring the congregation their first LCEF Shared Blessings loan rebate check,” said Raasch. LCEF provides financing to Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod (LCMS) ministries all across the nation and abroad.

If your Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod (LCMS) congregation is interested in loan funding, contact your district LCEF vice president or call 800-843-5233.

Joseph Bender Awarded 2017 SWD LCEF Scholarship

Joseph Bender is the final of three 2017 South Wisconsin District (SWD) Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF) $1,000 Scholarship winners. Joseph is a member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, West Allis, Wisconsin and will graduate from Martin Luther High School (MLHS), Greendale, Wisconsin this spring. Joseph plans to attend Concordia University Wisconsin, Mequon in the fall majoring in Pre-Seminary studies.

Joseph is a successful student both academically and socially at MLHS, plus, he has been active in his home congregation. Joseph is an encourager and servant of the Lord. He not only encouraged his peers to attend youth Bibles studies and worship over the years — if they needed a ride — he was there to pick them up. He shared his musical talents by playing drums during worship and this summer looks forward to participating in a servant event camp at “Mountain Builders Bethesda.”

In his letter of recommendation for Joseph, MLHS Theology Instructor Paul Doerr wrote the following:

“…I consider it a privilege to have taught someone of Joe's caliber for he is a very dedicate and conscientious student.

Joe has demonstrated leadership skills when he was captain of the cross-country team and co-captain of the swim team. Joe has a servant-leader approach and he leads by example. He take leadership seriously and is not afraid to delegate responsibility when needed.

I'm glad that Joe has decided to go into the pastoral ministry because of his love for the LORD is very evident in his life. Joe displays his relationship with the Lord on a daily basis, through his Christian character and the use of his God-given talents.”

In his scholarship essay, Joseph wrote the following:

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes,” Romans 1:16. These words penned by the apostle Paul show the importance of the gospel and how it can change lives…. This being said, it makes me very proud that the LCEF’s main mission is to support the LCMS Church in sharing the Gospel. Because the gospel has the power to change lives….”

Joseph described how LCEF’s Capital Funding Services helped The Lutheran Church of St. John, Quincy, Illinois with their capital campaign. “We raised over one million dollars and LCEF loaned us the other funds to finish the building process.” St. John’s new facilities included a food pantry.

“This small food pantry went from a small room in the basement of the church to the third largest food pantry in Adam’s county. Not only are the several hundred families nourished from the physical food but more importantly, nourished by the spiritual food that offers eternal life. Without the help of the LCEF many of the families would not have been affected in a physical and spiritual way.

At St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in West Allis,… we went through [LCEF’s] VisionPath which helped us refocus on both in reach and outreach ministry. By refocusing the in reach ministry the community at St. Paul’s has grown stronger. The outreach ministry has also had a clothing giveaway which helped over 100 needy people in the Milwaukee area….  All of these things have one thing in common; the ability to share the gospel through various ministries with the help of the LCEF. I, myself am a young investor in LCEF and plan on continuing to invest in LCEF. None of these amazing ministries could be done without the sacrifice that Christ gave to all when he defeated sin, death and the devil. That is the power of the gospel which LCEF supports through its funding and services.”

LCEF is blessed by generations of faithful investors just like Joseph and his family. For more information on how you can partner with the ministry of church extension, visit lcef.org or call 800-843-5233.

The remaining upper Midwest districts’ LCEF scholarships from Minnesota South, North Wisconsin and North Dakota Districts will be announced yet this spring. Follow our newsfeed and Facebook page for the most recent award announcements.

Skyler Bohn Awarded Second of Three 2017 SWD LCEF Scholarships

Skyler Bohn is the second of three 2017 South Wisconsin District (SWD) Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF) $1,000 Scholarship winners. Skyler is a member of Shepard of the Hills Lutheran Church, Pewaukee, Wisconsin and attends Pewaukee High School (PHS).

“Skyler always seems to have a smile on her face, and she lifts the mood of those she spends time with,” wrote Shepherd of the Hills Youth Director Chad Jacobsen in his letter of recommendation. “I feel like Skyler is such a great role model for younger girls; her attitude is contagious. When people are faced with a really difficult task so often a huge part of completing that task is the attitude you bring to it. Skyler attacks difficult tasks with a "can do" attitude and with enthusiasm.”

Skyler participated in mission trips in Colorado, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. “Skyler has a strong work ethic and interacts well with people of different ages…. She has demonstrated an ability to build strong relationships with her peers and operate as part of a team. Skyler has consistently put other people's needs before her own while serving on mission trips and I have really enjoyed working with her,” wrote Jacobsen.

“She has a strong desire to apply her knowledge and skills to make this world a better place,” wrote Amy Budde, PHS Social Studies Teacher in her letter of recommendation for Skyler. “She was able to apply her AP Psychology course knowledge…. Her group was interested in emotional intelligence and created a unique opportunity for themselves to teach younger children in our K-12 campus setting, about how to respond to others and manage their own emotions. It was an authentic experience that was admired by her classmates.”

Skyler is a member of the National Honor Society, recipient of the Merit Award three years running, active in high school activities including captain of the dance team, and member of the track and field team, leadership and yearbook clubs.

The remaining upper Midwest districts’ LCEF scholarships from Minnesota North and South, North and South Wisconsin and North Dakota Districts will be announced yet this spring. Follow our newsfeed and Facebook page for the most recent award announcements.

For more information on how you can partner with the ministry of church extension, visit lcef.org or call 800-843-5233.

Zachary Skovgaard Awarded First of Three 2017 SWD LCEF Scholarships

Zachary Skovgaard is the first of three 2017 South Wisconsin District (SWD) Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF) $1,000 Scholarship winners. Skovgaard is a member of Elm Grove Evangelical Lutheran Church, Elm Grove, Wisconsin and attends Brookfield East High School, Brookfield, Wisconsin.

Zachary is active at church and in his youth group, the captain of his high school soccer team and excels academically. “Zack took AP US history his sophomore year, a class that requires high skill level, passion for the topic, and most importantly true “grit” to see the course to the end.  Zack has all of this and more!,” wrote Brookfield East H.S. Teacher Patrick Coffey in his letter of recommendation. “Zack excelled in International Relations. Staying after class to discuss things going on in the world; he had a wonderful knack for making connections not only throughout history but also throughout the globe.

When given the life-changing opportunity to go to South Africa on a missionary trip with his father for two weeks last spring Zack jumped at the chance. He returned and shared with our class the amazing discoveries of his trip. Zack’s insights were truly remarkable as he discussed with great empathy and wisdom the social, economic, political, and religious tensions taking place in South Africa today. Life beyond the classroom reveals a young man who is eager to lead, serve, and contribute.

In a second letter of recommendation for Zachary, Karen Clark, Elm Grove Lutheran High School Youth Coordinator wrote, “He is a young man whom I count myself privileged to know. I say this because he holds his Christian faith as the great gift that it is. He also has matured into a confident, engaging, and successful person….

He has become a leader and developed compassion for others. Those qualities are the ones I have really enjoyed seeing Zachary embrace over the years. He is the type of person I know who will continue to grow in his academic as well as his spiritual life in college.”

“What I like most about LCEF is their mission,” wrote Zachary in his scholarship essay. “I like knowing that the money I invest in my account, along with thousands of other Lutherans, is going to help make a difference in many ministries around the world. One example of this is Our Savior’s Way Lutheran Church in Ashburn, Virginia. It was at this mission church that my dad became interested in going to seminary, which eventually led the whole family to Wisconsin. Our Savior’s Way was built with Laborers For Christ and an LCEF loan. So, in an indirect way, LCEF’s mission supported my dad’s pursuit of pastoral ministry. This is very similar to many stories across the USA, like Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Milan, Wisconsin.”

The remaining upper Midwest districts’ LCEF scholarships from Iowa District East, Minnesota North and South, North and South Wisconsin and North Dakota Districts will be announced yet this spring. Follow our newsfeed and Facebook page for the most recent award announcements.

LCEF is truly blessed by generations of investors just like Zachary. For more information on how you can partner with the ministry of church extension, visit lcef.org or call 800-843-5233.

Reaching the Community for Christ

 Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church leadership received a SWD LCEF $1,000 outreach event grant in June 2016. Pictured left to right: LCEF SWD LCEF VP Diana Raasch, Mt. Calvary Outreach Chair Allen Neuwirth, Congregation Pres. Chris Williams and Rev. Daniel Czaplewski.

Mount Calvary Lutheran Church, Milwaukee, Wisconsin received a $1,000 South Wisconsin District (SWD) Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF) outreach event grant this year to help fund movie nights for their community this fall.

Pictured right, Mt. Calvary leadership received their SWD LCEF grants funds last June. Left to right: LCEF SWD Vice President Diana Raasch, Mt. Calvary Outreach Chair Allen Neuwirth, Congregation President Chris Williams and Rev. Daniel Czaplewski.

LCEF grant funds are available for South Wisconsin District organizations again this year. Visit lcefuppermidwest.org for the online application. The deadline to apply is January 31, 2017.

Ferguson SWD LCEF Scholarship Winner!

  2016 South Wisconsin District (SWD) LCEF $1,000 scholarship winner, Mary Ferguson, is a member of Peace Lutheran Church, Sussex, Wisc. A history major with a minor in educational studies, Mary is enrolled at Concordia University Wisconsin, Mequon, and aspires to be a Lutheran educator.

2016 South Wisconsin District (SWD) LCEF $1,000 scholarship winner, Mary Ferguson, is a member of Peace Lutheran Church, Sussex, Wisc. A history major with a minor in educational studies, Mary is enrolled at Concordia University Wisconsin, Mequon, and aspires to be a Lutheran educator.

The second of two 2016 South Wisconsin District (SWD) Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF) $1,000 scholarship winners, Mary Ferguson, is a member of Peace Lutheran Church, Sussex, Wisc. A history major with a minor in educational studies, Mary is enrolled at Concordia University Wisconsin (CUW), Mequon, and aspires to be a Lutheran educator.

“As Christians we are taught to rejoice in the gracious gifts that God has bestowed upon us, knowing full well that we receive these gifts, not by our own works, but by God’s sacrificial love for all of us, His children,” wrote Mary in her scholarship essay.

“We are also taught to share these gifts with others and to continually spread the message of God’s love with everyone. What I like most about the Lutheran Church Extension Fund’s mission is that it strives to follow Christ’s generous mercy by providing help to those who need it the most. They show brotherly love to fellow Christians in a variety of different services while still keeping Christ at the center of all they do.

Christ says in Matthew 5:42, ‘Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.’ By providing financial assistance to churches, schools, and other members of the LCMS community, LCEF is obeying God’s command and are changing the lives of everyone they help.”

In her letter of recommendation, CUW Professor of History and Department Chair Susan Mobley, PhD., wrote the following about Mary:

“In addition to being a good student, Mary cheerfully demonstrates her personal faith and constantly seeks ways to combine faith and learning, both inside and outside of the classroom.  Mary is dedicated to Christian education and is currently pursuing a major in a new program that we are starting here at Concordia in Classical Education…. I am confident that she will develop into an excellent teacher and will serve as a positive Christian witness to her students. Mary is the kind of young person that the Lutheran Church needs.”

In his letter of recommendation, Rev. Gary Gehlbach wrote, “The most significant thing I appreciate about this young lady is her faithfulness to hearing the Word of God and her regular reception of the Lord's Supper.” Gehlbach expressed gratitude that while at college, Mary found a local church where she could worship regularly. When she comes home to Peace, she often brings several of her college friends along to worship with her. “There is a genuineness to her charm that makes you feel welcome. She also has a marvelous sense of humor which adds to the warmth of her personality,” wrote Gehlbach.

LCEF is blessed to have the funds available to support our youth as they pursue post-secondary education. It is our prayer that they are equipped to become strong, Christian leaders as adults. There are several more upper Midwest district 2016 LCEF scholarship awards to be announced yet this spring. Watch for announcements by subscribing to LCEF’s upper Midwest districts’ newsfeed or follow our Facebook page.

Upper Midwest district LCEF scholarship applications are available each September through February at lcefuppermidwest.org. For more information regarding how you can be a partner in ministry with LCEF, visit lcef.org.