Golden Jubilee Generosity: How Black Forest Lutheran Church Turned 50 Years into a $50,000 Visionary Gift

As Pastor Ken Hohag looked out over the congregation of Black Forest Lutheran Church, he couldn’t help but feel a deep sense of pride and nostalgia. The church was abuzz with excitement, not just for the Sunday service but for a momentous occasion that lay ahead – the 50th anniversary of the congregation. Fifty years of faith, community, and service were not just a milestone but a testament to God’s grace and the steadfast devotion of the church members.

Pastor Hohag, a seasoned shepherd of his flock, had been contemplating a meaningful way to commemorate this golden jubilee. The North American Lutheran Church’s 20/20 Vision presented an ideal opportunity. This strategic plan was not just a roadmap for the future but a reaffirmation of the core values that had guided the church since its inception.

However, the rollout of this vision, especially its financial component, posed a unique challenge. Pastor Hohag knew that the success of this initiative hinged on aligning it with the congregation’s spirit and heritage. Inspired by a colleague who had utilized their 40th anniversary as an opportunity to give back, Pastor Hohag brought forth a bold proposal to the church council.

Pastor Ken Hohag

The idea was simple yet profound – to donate $1,000 for every year of the church’s existence to the NALC. This gift of $50,000 would not only be a symbol of gratitude for the past 50 years but also a seed for the growth and outreach envisioned in the 20/20 Vision. The council, moved by this gesture, embraced the idea, and the congregation overwhelmingly voted in favor at the annual meeting. This decision was a reflection of what Pastor Hohag always believed – that stewardship and gratitude are the cornerstones of a vibrant faith community.

Implementing the 2020 Vision also meant considering the congregation’s ongoing commitments and future needs. One such need was a new playground, a project dear to many in the church. The 20/20 Vision’s three-year timeline provided the flexibility required for thoughtful planning and execution.

Pastor Hohag also recognized the importance of involving everyone in this journey. The stewardship team was entrusted with the task of not just reaching the financial goal but also fostering a deeper connection among the congregation members with the broader mission of the NALC. This approach wasn’t just about numbers; it was about people seeing and celebrating what God was doing through their church and the NALC.

Black Forest Lutheran Church had always been a congregation with a heart for missions. Their ongoing support for an NALC missionary in Congo and participation in mission trips were testament to this. As Pastor Hohag prepared to roll out the 20/20 Vision, he was mindful not to inundate his congregation with too many initiatives at once. It was crucial to strike a balance between their current missionary endeavors and the new commitments they were about to undertake.

Another vital aspect of this journey was identifying and conversing with individuals who could make significant personal contributions. These conversations were not just about soliciting funds but about sharing the vision and inviting participation in a cause that transcended their local community.

As the church neared its 50th-anniversary celebrations, the atmosphere was one of eager anticipation. The congregation was not only preparing to look back on half a century of faith and fellowship but also to step forward into a future filled with hope and promise, anchored in the vision they had collectively embraced.

The fundraising strategy, interwoven with the church’s significant milestone, proved to be a resounding success. It was not just about the money raised but about the sense of unity and purpose it fostered within the congregation. Pastor Hohag often reflected on this journey as a reaffirmation of his belief in what it means to be a church – a community that not only looks inward in gratitude but outward in generous service.

As he stood at the pulpit on the day of the anniversary, Pastor Hohag’s heart was full. He looked out at the faces in the pews – faces that told stories of years spent in worship, service, and community. This anniversary was more than a celebration of the past; it was a commitment to the future – a future built on faith, hope, and the unwavering belief in God’s plan for Black Forest Lutheran Church and the wider NALC community.

In that moment, Pastor Hohag knew that the 20/20 Vision was more than a strategic plan; it was a renewal of their covenant with God, a pledge to continue their journey of faith, guided by the enduring light of Christ’s love.