Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As you may have heard, Lutheran Via de Cristo of Minnesota has been struggling the last few years in many ways. It has lost its non-profit status with the secretary of state and is working to restore it. It is in a financial crisis, and the numbers of weekends and weekenders have been decreasing throughout the rest of the state. Meanwhile, here in southern Minnesota, we are continuing at a steady rate and even adding a weekend in the summer.
We have some plans for the future, but before we discuss that, we want to take a look at the current structure of Via de Cristo as a whole. In the United States, we have a national committee that provides resources, guidance, and oversees the overall operations, providing some basic continuity throughout the country. This is the National Lutheran Secretariat (NLS for short). The country has about 50 individual organizations called secretariats. These secretariats are not necessarily divided by state. Some are one combined secretariat among several states, while others have several secretariats in one state. Florida, for instance, has six separate secretariats. Minnesota has had the most unique structure. Despite the size of our organization, we have retained one secretariat: with one state council overseeing the state made up of 3 districts: north, south, and metro. The districts report to the state regarding all their activities. There is one treasurer who handles the income and expenses for the state as a whole.
Given the difficulties at the state level over the past few years, our Southern Committee has had many discussions and concerns. VdC of MN currently is not a charitable organization – any donations are no longer tax deductible. The financial picture predicts that we (as a state) will be within two to three thousand dollars of an empty bank account near or shortly after the end of 2019. If you remember the cost of a weekend ($3600), it is likely there will not be enough funding to hold a weekend in 2020 in the entire state.
Additionally, it has become increasingly challenging to remain consistent as a state regarding the workings of our individual districts. This is due to the logistics of the geographical areas and differences in how we prefer to function as a community and as a committee. With a membership of nearly 19,000 members, we are much bigger than any other secretariat, which creates unique challenges.
While there has been talk circulating throughout the entire state for years about the possibility of separating into smaller secretariats, we felt God telling us now was the time. In April, your Southern District of VdC of MN Board of Directors unanimously came to the conclusion that it was the best way to continue this ministry and best serve our 4th day community. None of us have taken this decision lightly, but it has become clear to all of us, that this timing is God’s timing. Those of us representing and leading Southern Minnesota feel a deep sense of responsibility to our Southern “family” of Via de Cristo, a passion for this ministry to continue among us, and a deep spiritual sense of calling to continue on.
VdC of MN has been struggling financially and we feel with volunteers doing the leg work here in southern MN, we can be more financially stable. For further financial information on VdC of MN, go to the Donate Page. There, you will find copies of the letters that were mailed out to everyone from the state finance chair with the annual appeal letter from fall 2018 and updates that were sent out since.
We have informed the state and national levels of VdC of our new direction. NLS Board President, Wendy Showalter, who resides in the Twin Cities, expresses her heartache at seeing the condition of our secretariat right now. She is fully backing our decision and has been a huge help from the moment these discussions began. The state council is, of course, sad to see us go, but they responded with understanding and support. Our southern district directors announced this news to the full state council at the state meeting in mid May. There was a brief conversation regarding retaining our assets when the process is complete. There is some money from our community that has always been earmarked as ours from previous fund raisers. They agree that they will divide the assets fairly.
We want to be clear that we are not in competition with VdC of MN, but a continuation of this ministry in which we will be in charge of our own finances and logistics. Donations to our community will be used within our community rather than becoming part of the state funds. Our communications will remain transparent and we have every intent to keep close ties and a good working relationship with the rest of the state. We are not stepping away with any hard feelings from any of the three groups. They are our brothers and sisters, one in faith and mission. We will be a resource to each other and continue to lift each other up as we move forward.
There were a number of steps that needed to be accomplished quickly to get a timely review and IRS approval to move forward. The committee has voted on the name, Ignite, and has begun the many steps needed to become our own entity. The first steps needed were to file our Articles of Incorporation and 501(c)(3) to become a non-profit organization. These steps went so quickly, we truly felt God had fully paved the way. Currently, we are awaiting final approval from the IRS, which we anticipate will happen within a few weeks.
We have created what we are calling the Ignite Kindling Committee. It is made up of the southern VdC of MN Board of Directors along with a few others who have joined this committee. We will soon be reaching out for more members to join the committee.
Although we will have a new name, we want to reassure you that our weekends will be the same as we all have come to know and love with the people in our Via de Cristo family. We will also retain the current geographic region for hosting weekends. Again, all the weekends in Southern Minnesota will be under the new name and new secretariat. There will be a few changes, but most of those will be legal changes, not visible to those serving weekends and continuing their faith life as a southern Minnesota family: with ultreyas and renewal groups.
There is one change that involves all of us. You need to choose which secretariat you want as your family, your community, your “home base”. You can serve on weekends in any secretariat, but you have voting rights in only one secretariat – the secretariat you choose. Currently we have all been listed as members of Lutheran Via de Cristo of Minnesota. Northern and Metro MN will retain this name after our transition is complete.
To continue as a member of the same Southern MN community, you need to request to move your membership to the Ignite Community because all of us are currently members of Lutheran VdC of MN. According to NLS rules, in order for current cursillistas (4th day community members) to be listed as an Ignite member, they must signify they wish to transfer membership to this new community.
You remain “family” in our hearts, no matter which community you choose to hold your membership. Whichever secretariat you choose at this time, please follow the membership form link and fill out the membership form. Every individual interested will need to fill out their own form, so multiple members of the same family will need to fill out the form separately. If you would like assistance with this form, please call Marian Mallory at 319-493-0301. There is a team to help you with this process. Weekenders will automatically become part of the Ignite community, just as you joined the current community as a 4th Day member at the end of your weekend. They will not need to choose their membership.
We have much to do in the upcoming months to have our new non-profit ready for our first weekend this fall. Our goal is for the November 2019 co-ed weekend to be the first weekend of our new community. A major hurdle to overcome is raising funds to get us started. Our initial goal is $5,000 to cover start-up costs and to get us through our first weekend. We cannot use any funds earmarked for VdC of MN until state council makes the decision what assets southern MN receives when the new secretariat officially starts. So funds are starting from scratch right now. Please consider heading over to our GoFundMe to donate so we can continue this amazing ministry. You can also send a check payable to Ignite VdC to Matt Morrissey, 2428 Crimson Ridge Cir NW, Rochester, MN 55901.
In an effort to be more environmentally and fiscally responsible, we will be communicating electronically as much as possible in the future. At this time, this will include email, our website, and Facebook. Please check back at the website for updates, news, and elections. There is a place here on the website to update your contact information at any time as the need arises. If you do not communicate in any electronic form, please let an Ignite Kindling Committee member know so we can communicate with you in another way.
There will soon be opportunities for more hands-on involvement in this process. We are working to be as efficient as physically possible to get through the hoops needed to finalize things. We will then be seeking extra help and input from you. We have plans for “town hall” meetings in multiple locations to get the latest updates to you and to answer questions that you may have.
Getting the word out about this new secretariat to the entire 4th Day community is going to be critical. This will take some time, because we don’t have current contact information for everyone. We plan on reaching out to the community in waves as we collect funds to do so. Please help us by sharing this information with your 4th Day friends, your renewal groups, and your 4th Day community in your church. Direct them to the website so they can get this information and submit their contact information and membership designation.
Please be in prayer for God’s will as we continue this journey. Pray for our leaders and volunteers as they set aside much time and effort toward this ministry. And pray for Lutheran Via de Cristo of Minnesota that they may succeed in the new workings of their secretariat. Each of you are in our hearts and prayers. We long to remain as one, but trust you will respond after seeking the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your faithful,
And kindle in us the fire of Your love.
Send forth Your Spirit, and we shall be created,
And you shall renew the face of the whole earth.
Oh, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit
Did instruct the hearts of the faithful,
Grant that by that same Spirit, we may be truly wise
And ever enjoy Your consolations.
Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen
God loves you and so do we,
Ignite Kindling Committee,
Jennifer Coudron, Cindy Goebel, Hollie Jennings, Jessica Lanes, Marian Mallory, LoRi Morrissey, Matt Morrissey, Jill Norell, Daryl Paulsen, Kathy Paulsen, Leon Peterson, Mary Peterson, Susan Strong, Rev. Krista Strum, Melissa Wagner, Deb Willert
Here’s a map of the three districts of VdC of MN. Ignite VdC will retain the same geographical location as the southern district of VdC of MN for holding weekends. Anyone from outside this location is welcome to join us at any time.
Ultreyas ~ for worship, fellowship, fun, information, and fund-raising
- July 20th, 2019 Community Lutheran Church, 106 3rd St SE, Geneva, MN 4pm – 6pm. We are having a bake sale and ask that you bring baked goods and/or crafts for the sale. Meal and dessert will be provided. Free will donation – all proceeds going to Ignite VdC to help fund our 1st weekend.
- September 2019 – Place and time to be determined in the Rochester area. Stay tuned.