Saturday, June 11, 2016

Lutheran Services Carolinas at SC Lutheran Assembly

The SC Lutheran Synod was nice enough to allow LSC to present to the Assembly. Below are my remarks. Then LSC Director of Refugee Services Bedrija Jazic was allowed extended time to share the current state of our refugee services work in the State of South Carolina.

Lutheran Services Carolinas is proud to be part of A Reforming Church: Living out Reconciliation and Renewal!

The Synod and LSC do that together.

We do that together when the Ku Klux Klan targets our Columbia office because we serve refugees who are escaping persecution and death. Bishop Yoos and the Synod stood foursquare against the Klan and to oppose anti refugee legislation.

We stand together to serve hundreds of foster children coming out of saddening and often horrendous broken home circumstances.

We have stood together in the last two years developing now 10 group homes for people with developmental disabilities.

We stand together serving homeless veterans, even though that is getting increasingly difficult due to government changes.

We stand together as we partner with WELCA to share books with disadvantaged children.

We stand together in local partnerships to meet local needs: St. Andrew’s Columbia’s refugee Welcome House, St. Luke Florence for use of their ministry house, All Saints Mt. Pleasant’s birthday cakes for foster children, St. John’s Beaufort for Christmas presents for foster children, St. Luke’s Summerville for hosting our foster care Christmas party since the early 2000s, and Reformation Columbia for our shared office/meeting space!

In 2011, our child and family services were about a $15 million ministry. About 10 in NC and 5 in SC.

Today, we have grown from $15 million to a budget of $19M, and one half of that budget is managed out of the Columbia office. I only mention budget because that means we are serving more people who need services!

That growth in ministry is coming through opportunities across the state, and an entrepreneurial and innovative staff in Columbia and around the state. Executive Director Bethany Vause and her staff have been passionate leaders in reform and in ministry.

LSC is just getting started. There are great needs across the state. In part to try to address those needs, the Synod has graciously given us permission to conduct a synod-wide capital campaign beginning in 2018.

One example, I am pleased to announce that LSC, with a grant from the ELCA Lutheran Disaster Response, will be employing a case manager in the ongoing aftermath of the October floods that devastated the area. And at the same time, LSC, with a grant from Lutheran Services in America, will be employing a VISTA worker for the next three years to help indigent and underserved populations be better prepared in the event of disasters. The emergency crews are long gone, but I am proud that our church is walking with those with the greatest need as they rebuild their lives.

Thank you for standing together with us as The Reforming Church, for your prayers, and for allowing me to be here today.

And now the star of the show. Refugee services is one of the hottest topics in the state and in the country. Bedrija Jazik is one of those passionate leaders I mentioned earlier. Our refugee services are growing in ministry and in size and in service. To brief you on the latest in refugee services, please join me in welcoming one of the most dedicated, sacrificing, passionate people I know, Bedrija Jazik.