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TORRINGTON, CONN (SZS) On Sunday, June 4, the church will observe Pentecost Sunday. On that day, which occurs on the fiftieth day of Easter, we celebrate the day the Holy Spirit descended from heaven upon the disciples. The Biblical account in the book of Acts (2:1-4) describes a mighty wind, tongues of fire, and the disciples being filled with the Holy Spirit and speaking in different languages. In many congregations, the reading on this day is read in a multitude of languages as a remembrance of those disciples speaking in different languages and being understood by people from many nations. Therefore, Pentecost is an appropriate time to reflect on the global community of which we are a part and be intentional about lifting up our church’s global ministries – by proclaiming the love of Christ in word and deed to our sisters and brothers throughout the world.

Earlier this month, your congregation received a Pentecost Sunday packet, which included ideas for coordinating support of global ministries, whether through a special offering or worship service, an international community meal, or a church-building campaign. Please consider joining other Synod congregations and congregations throughout the ELCA as we support evangelism projects, build up congregations, reach out to those in need, and train pastors and leaders for Christ’s Church!

In addition to the many projects available for support through ELCA global ministries, the following are some examples of specific global projects which have been begun through generous mission offerings in the Slovak Zion Synod – ELCA and which, because of on-going needs, merit our continued prayerful and financial support:

For example, our Slovak Zion Synod hosts seminary students each year from the Lutheran Theological Seminary of Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia (Evanjelická Bohoslovecká Fakulta, Univerzita Komenského [EBF–UK]). This Student Immersion Program, organized by the Synod’s International Relations Committee, brings seminarians for a summer immersion internship in an American congregation. This program helps these future pastors and church leaders develop ministry skills and experience church life, ministry, and mission in an American congregation and context. At the same time, they serve as witnesses in their host congregations of the global church from which they originate. Consider hosting a seminarian, or making a donation toward the expenses associated with this worthwhile mission endeavor.

The Slovak Zion Synod and its members have been major advocates, contributors, and supporters of a variety of projects at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Bratislava, including the construction and furnishing of the current building. But the needs have not stopped there. Over the years, our close relationship and collaboration with the administration of the Seminary and the Evangelical (Lutheran) Church in Slovakia have given us the opportunity to identify new needs and make a difference in theological education and leadership development for these future pastors and church leaders. The EBF-UK continues to be the main seminary for Lutheran theological students, not just in Slovakia, but for the Lutheran Church in Serbia and this entire region of Eastern Europe. In addition, the current Dean and much of the leadership of the seminary are themselves alumni of our Synod’s Student Immersion program. Seminary needs here are varied, and range from supporting translations of books into Slovak and purchasing needed books and technological resources, to supporting graduate studies and continuing education conferences for pastors and laity throughout the church.

Our Synod generously provides for the funding of buildings and renovation projects as well. For example, Ilok is home to the largest Slovak demographic population in Croatia. Nestled in this small city is a Lutheran Church which has stood for hundreds of years, but whose building, in addition to showing the effects of centuries of aging, was unfortunately struck by lightning. With our help, they are beginning to rebuild; but the project is not finished.

Another worthy project in need of support involves the support of a church pre-school project in Ratkovska-Bystre. This region of the country was influenced the most by the communist regime for many years, and this mission demonstrates to the people of this village that the church has a place in their lives and can provide a much-needed ministry to this community. This ministry to families with young children has received initial start-up funding, but needs your prayers and support to develop and expand.

Your support of the construction and furnishing of a Lutheran assisted living facility and nursing home in Sväty Jur, Slovakia, has created a sense of family and community for the elderly of that area. This building project, though recently opened, has already reached capacity and is seeking support as it embarks on an ambitious expansion project in order to create more space to accommodate the needs of those still on the waiting list for acceptance as residents.

Our International Relations Committee of the the Slovak Zion Synod continues to seek your prayerful and financial support, whether you are an individual, church group, or congregation. Additional needs in Central and Eastern Europe are many and include: Support of a Day Center for autistic youth in Slovakia; outreach and native-language copies of scripture to the Romani people; printing the first comprehensive book since 1930 on the history of Slovak Lutheran Churches in Serbia which chronicles the first settlements and organizations connecting church life in the region; supporting the restoration of historic centuries-old articular wooden churches; and hosting and sponsoring enrichment and continuing education opportunities for leaders of the seminary in Bratislava.

Pentecost is often called the Birthday of the Christian Church because of the connection between the coming of the Holy Spirit and Christ’s love being spread to those of many nations and languages. As you celebrate Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples on that first Pentecost, may that same Holy Spirit move you to reach out in love and mission and generously support our brothers and sisters in need globally.