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Thrive! Equipping a Vibrant Church Together 4.16.19

Thrive! Equipping a Vibrant Church Together

“Stronger and Better Together: Joining Jesus in the Restoration of the World – our Synod’s vision – has been instrumental in bringing help and healing to congregations and individuals across our territory. You will see another example of such assistance in the 2nd article below from Pastor Bob Swanson. Yet, the reality has been that current Synod mission support does not provide enough funding to fully pursue our vision’s goals, while at the same time many congregations face their own economic challenges. Enter “Thrive! Equipping a Vibrant Church Together.”

Thrive is a capital campaign designed to help us invest together in congregations and, thus, the synod as a whole. Thrive provides tools for congregations to improve their stewardship and, thereby, their budgets. At the same time, Thrive boosts our ability to raise up and train both lay and rostered leaders, enhance worship life, launch new congregations, and better equip congregations for the future to which God is calling us.

Thrive offers new hope for our Synod. Today, we hear from Pastors Advisory Cabinet (PAC) member, Pastor Charlie Woodward, sharing why he is excited about Thrive!


What excites me the most in this campaign is Goal #3 – Strengthening Rostered Ministers. Through this goal, relationships are created and sustained, and the church is stronger because of it. This opportunity for leaders to help leaders through coaching, education, nurturing and support is vitally important for the church’s future. And through financial support for grants and debt reduction, the church can lift up leaders who would not otherwise be able to serve.

I am thankful for these gifts in my 30 years of ministry:

  • I am thankful for my seminary education, and the grants and support I received.
  • I am thankful for the many opportunities I have had for continuing education that have enhanced my ministry.
  • I am thankful for those who have served as mentors for me along the way.
  • And I am thankful for the times I have been called on to be a mentor to others.

The more we can do to support and strengthen the leadership of our congregations, the stronger we will be as a church and a synod. For God calls us into relationship – with God and others.

Rev. Charlie Woodward (Epiphany, Centerville)


Here is a summary of Goal #3 of the Thrive campaign. For more details, see the Thrive Quicklink on the Synod’s website.


Goal 3: Strengthening Rostered Ministers

Provide opportunities and support that enables pastors and deacons to be healthy leaders who are growing in their faith and ministry skills, and be identified as such by their congregations.

  • Provide coaches for pastors and deacons
  • Grants for seminarians
  • Debt reduction grants to first call rostered ministers
  • Expanded first call theological education
  • Additional and enhanced convocations for rostered leaders


“Stronger and Better Together: Joining Jesus in the Restoration of the World”
The vision leading us to Thrive!


The Coaching Cohort, which helps pastors improve ministry skills, has been one of the real success stories of the Synod’s vision. Here are the thoughts of one Cohort member, Pastor Bob Swanson, and how the vision is leading us to Thrive:

While involved with the synod’s “Coaching Cohort” program from August 2017 to June 2018, I was truly part of the synod vision, Stronger and Better Together: Joining Jesus in the Restoration of the World.  With Mike Weaver and Grant Eckhart as coaches, and fellow pastors Sally Padgett (First, Columbus) and Brian Ferguson (First, Cincinnati), we would walk through and talk through various situations and problems each of us were experiencing in our downtown contexts.

Each of our churches were servants to so many in the throes of battling a myriad of “the street’s” pain, from homelessness to addiction, prostitution, and hopelessness. Although the “diagnoses” of situations may have appeared similar, how we would address many of these speed bumps and minister to them varied. That is where weekly video discussions would prove to be extremely helpful and effective. Ideas, questions, and comments would be offered from a different perspective, which is always helpful. Yes, stronger and better together!

The cohort experience helped beyond the outreach ministry to that of our congregations, as we would compare notes to how each context might compare to another’s. From finances, to council power struggles, to folks still pointing fingers at “those people” our churches would feed, clothe, and help with hygiene ­– the willingness to share openly was exceptional.

There’s much more I could share but I hope you will be part of this growing opportunity to make our ministries stronger and better together.  

Pastor Bob Swanson


“For further information about the Thrive campaign, please contact Pastor Larry Donner, Thrive Campaign Manager, at”




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