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A debt to world mission

Congregation’s capital campaign includes $200,000 for mission personnel

July 23, 2009

LOUISVILLE

A Wisconsin congregation’s successful fund-raising campaign will both decrease its debt to the bank and increase its investment in mission.

Crossroads Presbyterian Church in Mequon, WI, has raised more than $2 million in cash and pledges that will cut in half the $4 million mortgage on its sanctuary and Christian education building. The congregation also intends to give $200,000 of the campaign’s proceeds to support Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) overseas mission personnel.

Crossroads, like many other congregations, has a tradition of contributing a portion of the funds it raises in capital campaigns to mission causes. Jan Martin, a member of the church who was elected to the General Assembly Mission Council last summer, became interested in the council’s efforts to increase the number of mission personnel. A member of Crossroads’ mission committee, she told other committee members about the effort to increase mission personnel.

“We talked about the new initiative to increase the number of mission personnel at our mission committee meeting, and we liked the idea of tying that to our debt reduction campaign,” she said.

In previous capital campaigns earlier in the decade, the congregation had devoted most of its mission contributions to projects serving the local community. This time, however, the interest gravitated toward an international cause.

“We were in an interim time, and that‘s a time that churches tend to look closely at their denominational ties,” said Steve Carlton, chair of the mission committee. “When we learned that the denomination was wanting to increase the number of mission personnel, we wanted to be a part of it.”

The pledging began last fall just as concern about the nation’s economy began to rise. Both Martin and Carlton expressed gratitude for their congregation’s commitment despite the sluggish economy. While some in the congregation voiced doubts, the church’s interim pastor, the Rev. Terry Swicegood, urged the congregation to push forward with its debt reduction campaign.

The church will support three mission workers: Nancy McGaughey, a health coordinator in southern Sudan; Nathaniel Veltman, a development coordinator in Ethiopia; and a third worker whose name and assignment cannot be revealed due to security concerns.

The congregation has already contributed $60,000 from the capital campaign for the support of the three mission personnel and recently gave an additional $15,000 from the church’s general fund for the support of all mission workers serving with Presbyterian World Mission.

“We look forward to building a relationship with these three,” Carlton said. “We would like to continue their support” beyond the three-year commitment.

The church already provides regular support for three PC(USA) mission workers: Mike and Nancy Haninger, a physician and nurse in Congo;  and Martha Sommers, a physician in Malawi.

Crossroads, which has about 1,500 members, is the largest PC(USA) congregation in Wisconsin. It is a member of the Presbytery of Milwaukee in the Synod of Lakes and Prairies.

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