Late last summer, a St. Paul’s family reached out to me with a generous financial gift and an idea. The gift was $50,000. Their idea was a $2 for $1 matching grant up to their gift of $50,000. If successful, this would bring $150,000 of new money to reduce the principal on our $2.7 million loan on our 2015 building construction.

After consultation with Denny Haugen, Ron Zelle, Dani Gordon, and the family, we unveiled the program. We called the campaign, The Debt Reduction Gift Challenge. With the blessing of council, it was brought to the congregation in late September. Every St. Paul’s family was challenged to consider an above and beyond gift of $250 or more for the challenge. The campaign ran from October through December of 2018.

By the second week of December, St. Paul’s successfully completed the challenge. But the gifts came rolling in through the end of December. We took in 158 gifts for a grand total of $170, 918.74. This amount will reduce St. Paul’s mortgage by 29 monthly payments, saving significant interest over the life of the loan.

Wow, St. Paul’s! This pastor is filled with joy and gratitude at these totals. As I reflect on the final numbers, these results have layers of meaning for me. Here are a few thoughts for your consideration.

First, thank you to everyone who participated in the Debt Reduction Gift Challenge. My gratitude begins with the generosity of the family who made the program possible. It also includes every last family who made an above and beyond gift. In the final analysis, every gift mattered and made a difference. Thank you to everyone who stepped up with this above and beyond giving opportunity.

Second, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church & School is blessed with generous members. Both the results of the Debt Reduction Gift Challenge and Consecration Weekend confirm this truth. Generosity is both a faith practice for the Christian and the fuel that powers St. Paul’s ministries.

Third, the Debt Reduction Gift Challenge is a forerunner of our 2019-2021 Capital Campaign. Late winter through the spring of 2019, St. Paul’s will be conducting a capital campaign. This campaign is for both our mortgage and the reduction of our debt on our 2015 new construction. After the debt reduction gift challenge, our current debt is $2.575 million. I am grateful for Anne Benschoter and Jean Buckingham who are serving as our co-chairs. More information to come.

Fourth, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church & School’s capacity is great. To be sure, this includes our financial resources. Yet, it’s much more than that. We have the capacity to accomplish great things on behalf of our God who has shaped and formed this place for nearly 150 years. When St. Paul’s gets focused, we can achieve anything for our God.
I am excited for our future! I look forward to seeing what God has in mind for us. And you know what? Whatever God has in mind for St. Paul’s, I know we are up for the challenge.


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