The Transylvania Times -

Lutherans Celebrate By Burning Mortgage Papers


September 7, 2017

Courtesy Photo

From left to right Sophie Dunbar, Roy Larson, Lorel Durlak, Pastor Mary Shore, Bishop Tim Smith, Gene Shonka, and Ed Hennig watch the Thrivent mortgage papers burn.

The Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd inaugurated its Place of Grace campaign in July 2016. The campaign's goal was to retire both of the church's mortgages: the larger with Thrivent and the smaller against its own endowment fund.

The first goal was met when $350,000 was contributed to the campaign in just over one year. The second, smaller mortgage is expected to be retired by the end of the on-going campaign. At the Sept. 3 worship service, with North Carolina Synod Bishop Tim Smith's participation, the congregation joyously set fire to the Thrivent mortgage papers.

The Place of Grace mortgage retirement campaign grew out of the church's 2015 strategic planning efforts. Three goals emerged from the strategic planning: to grow in faith and fellowship with one another; to equip the membership for enhanced ministry in our community and the wider world; and to retire both mortgages. Retiring the mortgages is more than a goal in and of itself. It is a means of enabling the church to expand its ministries and programming.

A new position of outreach coordinator has been created to organize and support these ministries, and Kimberly Dunbar has been selected to fill that staff position. With experience in both social work and church work, she is ideally suited to this position and has already begun researching outreach opportunities and initiating programming.

As part of the liturgy surrounding the burning of the mortgage, the congregation thanked God with these words, "You have accompanied us in times of excitement and discouragement; you have guided our visions and plans; and you have given us the joy of working together for the sake of the gospel. We rejoice in the completion of a task that was begun with trust in your promise, and we give thanks for all whose courage, energy and resources have contributed to its fulfillment."

Following the service the bishop talked with the congregation about the work of the North Carolina synod, the national church and Lutheran Relief, which is currently rendering aid to people on the Texas coast who have been devastated by the flooding resulting from Hurricane Harvey. The morning concluded with a celebratory luncheon.


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