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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.

 

Can People Find My Church?

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What kind of an image does your church facility present to the community? The visual presence can impact how the church is viewed by the community. Is it clean and tidy, or do the grounds and buildings look tired?

Well-maintained grounds and buildings can be an invitation and clue to the quality of the experience inside. Here are some ideas that you may consider to raise awareness of your church.

Lighting

Light the important features of your facility. The front façade, steeple or ground sign when lit and attached to a timer are effective tools to draw attention to your facilities.

Landscaping

Beyond the obvious trimmed landscape, consider a colorful flower garden around your yard sign or sidewalk edging. Identify an ideal spot for color and empower a “green-thumbed” member of the congregation to work wonders with a minimum of investment. In general, well-chosen plant materials continue to be the most cost effective way to enhance your facilities.

 An example of a feather-shaped sign.

An example of a feather-shaped sign.

Signs, Banners, Flags

Signs are often under-scaled. If you can’t read the sign when passing in a car at 30 mph, your sign is too small to be effective.

Some of the best signs have a component of movement. Consider an American flagpole or feather-shaped advertising sign to draw attention to your facilities.

Take a long look at your facilities and see if some of these ideas have merit.

Contact LCEF to find an Architectural Advisory Committee member near you for additional information. Contact your local district vice president, visit lcef.org or call 800-843-5233.

Sweet Treats Served at Minnesota North District Convention

 Enjoying the LCEF Minnesota North District sundae bar at the 2018 convention, pictured left, Synod Executive-Third Vice-President Rev. Nabil Nour and LCEF President and CEO Rev. Bart Day.

Enjoying the LCEF Minnesota North District sundae bar at the 2018 convention, pictured left, Synod Executive-Third Vice-President Rev. Nabil Nour and LCEF President and CEO Rev. Bart Day.

Pastors, lay delegates and their families enjoyed sweet treats served with a smile at the Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF) sundae bar at the 23rd Convention of the Minnesota North District – Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS).

Following their evening meal, LCEF President and CEO Bart Day and Minnesota North District staff helped serve ice cream and toppings at Arrowhead Resort in Alexandria, Minnesota, on April 10, 2018. The 2018 convention theme is “Here We Stand on Christ Alone… Our Cornerstone.”

Also in attendance was Synod Executive-Third Vice-President Rev. Nabil Nour. Nour represents the church’s Great Plains Region. He also serves as pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, Hartford, S.D. 

Born in Nazareth, Israel, Nour moved with his family to Haifa when he was three and lived on the very slopes of Mount Carmel where Elijah once hid from Jezebel. Nour immigrated to the United States when he was 16 and eventually became a naturalized citizen. He also underwent adult instruction in the Lutheran faith. Find his biography here.

 LCEF President and CEO Rev. Bart Day serves ice cream to convention attendees at the LCEF sponsored sundae bar following their evening meal on April 10, 2018.

LCEF President and CEO Rev. Bart Day serves ice cream to convention attendees at the LCEF sponsored sundae bar following their evening meal on April 10, 2018.

The LCMS has district conventions every three years; the schedule includes time for conducting business, electing officers and sharing information. The conventions also offer opportunities for worship, nurture, inspiration and fellowship.

The LCMS includes 35 districts with more than 6,000 congregations and two million members.

There are 33 geographical districts representing all 50 United States. Two districts — English District and SELC District — are non-geographical, and they have member congregations in the U.S. plus the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec.

View upcoming district conventions around the Synod here.

Findlay Received 2017 LCEF Minnesota North District Scholarship

 Megan Findlay received a $1,000 LCEF scholarship award on Sunday, January 7, 2018, at her home congregation, St. John Lutheran Church, Wheaton, Minn. LCEF District Vice President – Minnesota North George Miller presented the check.

Megan Findlay received a $1,000 LCEF scholarship award on Sunday, January 7, 2018, at her home congregation, St. John Lutheran Church, Wheaton, Minn. LCEF District Vice President – Minnesota North George Miller presented the check.

Megan Findlay received her $1,000 LCEF scholarship on Sunday, January 7, 2018. Findlay is a member of St. John Lutheran Church, Wheaton, Minn., and attends Minnesota State University of Moorhead.

Findlay expressed gratitude for making the LCEF Scholarship possible and is deeply appreciative of the support. She is the daughter of Gary and Rhonda Findlay, the family lives in Herman, Minn.

“Megan has a positive outlook on life,” wrote St. John Rev. Michael Breach in his letter of recommendation for Findlay. “Her career goal is to be a middle school math teacher, helping young teens understand math concepts more easily. Whatever Megan strives to do she will be hardworking to achieve success. She will confidently reach her goals. Having known Megan and seen her dedication, desire, and hardworking personality, she will accomplish whatever her goals are.”

LCEF is blessed to provide annual scholarships for active, faith-filled Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod students such as Megan. In her scholarship essay, Megan wrote, “LCEF has a biblical mission. This mission is our highest mission throughout life. We are called to proclaim Christ as our salvation, to be a light to the world. LCEF provides an opportunity through its mission to impact many people in a tremendous way.” LCMS members invest in LCEF — those invested dollars support loans and services throughout the church body.

To read more about Megan’s story, click here.

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

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.

Zion Celebrated LCEF Sunday

 The LCEF Loan Rebate Check was received, on behalf of the congregation on Oct. 15, 2017, by Zion LCEF Advocate Bonnie Brooks and Zion Congregation Chair Larry Gebhardt.

The LCEF Loan Rebate Check was received, on behalf of the congregation on Oct. 15, 2017, by Zion LCEF Advocate Bonnie Brooks and Zion Congregation Chair Larry Gebhardt.

In celebration of receiving their Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF) Shared Blessings Rebate, Zion Lutheran Church, Alexandria, Minnesota hosted an LCEF Sunday on Oct. 15, 2017. LCEF Minnesota North District Vice President George Miller presented the congregation with a rebate check of more than $4,800.

Congratulations to the members and families of Zion whose personal LCEF investments not only helped fund Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) ministries across the nation but also helped Zion earn their loan rebate this year.

Zion LCEF Advocate Bonnie Brooks helped raise awareness of the rebate opportunity; the congregation now has nearly 19% investors including more than 50 Y.I. Club members—well done!

For more information on how to become an LCEF investor or obtain loan funding for your LCMS church or school, please visit lcef.org or call 800-843-5233.

 

Megan Findlay Awarded 2017 MNN LCEF Scholarship

Congratulations Megan Findlay! Megan is the 2017 Minnesota North District (MNN) Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF) $1,000 Scholarship winner. She is a member of St. John Lutheran Church, Wheaton, Minnesota and will graduate from Wheaton Area Schools this spring. Megan plans to attend Minnesota State University of Moorhead this fall.

“Throughout [Megan’s] high school education, she has continually demonstrated academic and athletic excellence, compassionate leadership, and a steady commitment in all her endeavors,” wrote Wheaton Area Schools English/Language Arts Instructor Kathryn Minion. “She has been active in many civic and school organizations including Active Christian Teens, Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA), Girls State, Student Council, and National Honor Society. She has learned compassion and has demonstrated a desire to work and teach. Her leadership is strong but gentle, and she has demonstrated a clear desire to put others first.”

“Megan has a positive outlook on life,” wrote St. John’s Rev. Michael Breach. “Her career goal is to be a middle school math teacher, helping young teens understand math concepts more easily. Whatever Megan strives to do she will be hardworking to achieve success. She will confidently reach her goals. Having known Megan and seen her dedication, desire, and hardworking personality, she will accomplish whatever her goals are.”

MNN District LCEF is blessed to provide annual scholarships for active, faith-filled Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) students such as Megan. In her scholarship essay, Megan described the ministry of church extension like this, “LCEF has a biblical mission. This mission is our highest mission throughout life. We are called to proclaim Christ as our salvation, to be a light to the world. LCEF provides an opportunity through its mission to impact many people in a tremendous way.” LCMS members invest in LCEF — those invested dollars support loans and services throughout the church body. 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 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.

A Historic Church Looks Like New

 Photo circa 1920, Trinity Cathedral (Episcopal,) Duluth, Minn. Photo courtesy of the  University of Minnesota Duluth, Kathryn A. Martin Library, Northeast Minnesota Historical Center Collections .

Photo circa 1920, Trinity Cathedral (Episcopal,) Duluth, Minn. Photo courtesy of the University of Minnesota Duluth, Kathryn A. Martin Library, Northeast Minnesota Historical Center Collections.

Mount Olive Evangelical English Lutheran Church has a rich history. Their church building was originally an Episcopalian cathedral built in 1908. Mount Olive purchased the church in the 1950’s and have taken great care to treat it with love. 

 Mt. Olive Ev. English Lutheran Church,  Duluth, Minn. was originally an Episcopalian cathedral. Mt. Olive purchased the building in the 1950’s. In more recent years, an LCEF Loan helped the congregation fund an extensive renovation project. 

Mt. Olive Ev. English Lutheran Church,  Duluth, Minn. was originally an Episcopalian cathedral. Mt. Olive purchased the building in the 1950’s. In more recent years, an LCEF Loan helped the congregation fund an extensive renovation project. 

This brownstone church seats nearly 200 people and is full of character. The congregation took out an LCEF mortgage about 22 years ago and then embarked on a project to reverse the sanctuary, according to Mount Olive Rev. Robert Franck. “The congregation needed a larger narthex. It wasn’t possible to add on to the original front of the church facing the street,” said Franck. 

The solution was quite ingenious. By reversing the sanctuary, the congregation was able to add new front doors which opened to a nice, large narthex. They also added offices and classrooms. 

After paying off the loan early, several other projects needed attention. In addition to generous gifts from current members, an LCEF loan helped fund repairs that included a new furnace, a new stained glass window in the chancel, and most ambitiously, removing all the rest of the stained glass, cleaning it, re-leading, re-assembling, and finally, re-installing the windows. During installation, two clear layers of outer glass were added for protection and energy efficiency, especially for the winter months. “They look like new,” said Mount Olive Church Secretary Julie Jones. 

The side windows—some of which are more than 100 years old—also had screens installed so they could be opened to provide better air circulation during the heat of the summer. To this day, the building does not have air conditioning so prior to their most recent project, the summer services could be quite uncomfortably warm. 

The original stained glass windows feature several apostles. When the congregation realized that they would need an entirely new window, for the ‘new’ front of the sanctuary, they chose the image of Jesus. The new window is a beautiful complement to the older stained glass images along the sides.

The new and old aspects of this church building appear to be in great harmony. According to Franck, the congregation was even recognized by the Duluth Preservation Alliance for maintaining the architectural integrity of the structure amidst such a large renovation