CALLED TO BE NEIGHBORS TO THE WORLD

In Matthew, Mark, and Luke, Jesus teaches an ethics of neighborliness.
A lawyer asked Jesus a question to test him. “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 35b-40)

But who are these neighbors, anyway? In Luke’s Parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus goes on to teach us a working definition.
… wanting to justify himself, the lawyer asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead…. Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” The lawyer said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10: 29-37)

So, neighborliness is bound up with showing mercy – a shared commitment, as a congregation and as individuals to offering one another kindness, fairness, and respect. As a congregation of faithful Christians, we seek to live out Jesus’s call. We hope and trust that this lived commitment to neighborliness is a slow, profound, and deeply transformational ministry here in Monroe County and in the world.

As a congregation and as individuals, we do much of the work of neighboring by working  with nonprofit agencies, supporting them through budgeted funds, personal contributions, volunteering, and gifts of material goods. Working with these agencies gives us powerful ways to live out our values. Here’s a list of some of these agencies. 

MINISTRIES OF ACCOMPANIMENT AND SOLIDARITY

PARTNERSHIPS TO HELP OUR NEIGHBORS IN MONROE COUNTY

PARTNERSHIPS FOR CREATION CARE AND COMMUNITY CARE

SEED MONEY FOR NEW MISSION PROJECTS

The Mission Endowment Fund at St. Thomas was established to provide startup funds for new mission projects within the congregation and extra support for existing missional ministries. The primary purpose of the Mission Endowment Fund is to provide funding in three categories: special needs at St. Thomas Lutheran Church, outreach in our local area, and mission around the world.  It is a perpetual fund that distributes only its income. Distributions are made only to programs or projects not already supported by regular offerings. The Mission Endowment Fund Committee meets four times a year to distribute income from the mission endowment. Any member of the congregation may apply for a grant. Here’s the application form. Please return the completed form to the church office.

THE MISSION COMMITTEE AT ST. THOMAS

The Mission Committee at St. Thomas has the ongoing responsibility of supporting the varied mission commitments of members of the congregation, as well as bringing other local ministries to the attention of the congregation. At their monthly meetings, they’re continuing a long conversation about what showing mercy means right now. The committee keeps track of the person-to-person ties that connect us to our mission partners and the diverse and extensive missions of the congregation. The Mission Committee has some funds of its own, within the congregation’s budget, to use for fast response as needed.
 
Providing invitations and opportunities for study is an important role for the Mission Committee. To be good neighbors, it’s important to study – to choose to see. We don’t want to be like the rich man who conveniently doesn’t notice Lazarus at his gate (Luke 16: 19-31). The Mission Committee organizes book groups and adult education events to help us all have clearer sight. In 2021 we’re focusing on understanding homelessness. 
 
The committee also lets the congregation know about opportunities for advocacy. It’s easy for people to start feeling we don’t really have any power or real voice in our community, our state, and our nation. Advocacy reminds us to speak up and act up about issues that matter. The Mission Committee brings opportunities for active participation and civic engagement to the attention of the congregation.