NovusWay Needs Our Help

I hope you’ve been reading about recent changes at NovusWay Ministries. We’re grateful for all Dick Peterson did as Interim CEO in Phase 1 of the interim plan, and now we’re extremely grateful that Mike Ward and Mitzie Shafer, both former staff for NovusWay, are taking the reigns as co-CEOs in Phase 2. You can read more about that transition here.

You may be aware of the dire financial situation of this organization, made up of four beloved camps—two of them right here in North Carolina, Lutheridge and Lutherock. As of the end of October, the operating deficit for this year alone was more than $1.2 million. Mike and Mitzie and the board have a plan that, though far from painless, will get this organization back in the black. It’s simple economics. The expenses need to go down, and the income needs to go up. Indeed, just last week we learned of and lamented the necessity of cutting in one fell swoop, $640,000 from the operating budget. Some positions were terminated, some vacancies won’t be replaced, and other cuts are being implemented to reach that $640,000 in annual expense savings for 2024.

While you and I don’t directly impact the expense side of the equation, we most certainly can and must step up to make a significant difference on the revenue side. The $640,000 in annual expense savings is about half of the current operating deficit. The other half of that comes from our contributions. Wendy and I had already made our NovusWay contribution for the year, but when this news broke last week, we rearranged some other things to be able to give an additional $1,000, and we need oh, roughly, 640 of you to do the same. Already people are rallying in impressive ways around this beloved yet struggling ministry, and I am confident in the plan and leadership that we have in place to be able to right this ship.

To that end, just three days ago on December 2, the NC Synod Council made two major decisions:

  1. The synod is giving an extra—that’s over-and-above—year-end gift to NovusWay from our Peeler-Casey funds of $50,000 (plus $25,000 to Camp Agapé, which is, of course, not part of the NovusWay system). We know others among the four supporting synods will be having similar considerations as to how they might step up.
  2. This past September, Agapé+Kure Beach Ministries asked the NC Synod if they might postpone their 3-year synod-highlighted capital campaign from a 2025 start to a 2027 start, and we said yes. As it turns out, this opens a door for NovusWay, who requested a special one-year “emergency” campaign to address this deficit, debt, and deferred maintenance. The synod council granted the request and, though details are yet to be determined, it looks like the campaign may run from mid-2024 through mid-2025. So again, that blessedly works, since Lutheran Services Carolinas’ 3-year campaign will be finished this month, and Agapé’s (next on the docket) won’t begin until 2027.

We can do this, y’all. If our camps are as meaningful, formative, and life-changing as so many claim to have been true for them, it is now incumbent on us to step up as those before us have done to make these meaningful opportunities in faith formation available for generations to come. Some may say, “But we don’t have the children and the youth like we used to!” True enough, sadly, in many congregations, but adult faith formation is critical as well, and if children and youth aren’t active in congregations, all the more reason to support our camps as perhaps for many the only faith formation contexts they will be exposed to. We aren’t a ministry for Christian children and youth. We’re a Christian ministry for all children and youth. Passing on the faith depends more and more on the health of our camps!

Won’t you join me personally, and the NC Synod, and the other three supporting synods, and the NovusWay Board, and alumni and staff, and congregations, and friends of the ministry, and so many more, to do your part? I’m asking you now to make a year-end special gift and I’m thanking you in advance.

Walking with you,

NC Synod Bishop

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