Pr. David McGettigan
The last decade, and more particularly, the last two years have witnessed what might be rightly termed unprecedented upheaval and consequent changes in what we have come to call the Lutheran landscape in North America. WordAlone Network served valiantly and faithfully as a rock solid center where traditional confessional Lutherans could gather to share concern, receive support, and speak with as close to one voice as we could.
Over the years, WordAlone was blessed to give birth to and watch grow to independence several vital outreach ministries aimed at serving the needs of faithful Gospel proclamation in nearly every area of church life: ReClaim Worship Resources, the Institute of Lutheran Theology for lay and professional pastoral education, SOLA Publishing for fully Word centered educational materials for both children and adults. Indeed, WordAlone launched a remarkable mission focused association of congregations in Lutheran Congregations In Mission For Christ. And finally, thanks principally to WordAlone's offspring, LutheranCORE, we were able to celebrate the inauguration of a sister church body The North American Lutheran Church just last August.
In the past two years, since the fateful decisions at the ELCA August 2009 Churchwide Assembly signaling their seeming irreversible march toward a more liberal Protestant bent, and as many of our friends and supporting congregations began to move to LCMC and NALC, it was time for WordAlone Network to become WordAlone Ministries and to search these new uncharted waters for a fresh vision and mission. Our goal was to assess what ministry outreach services were yet needed by congregations in the new Lutheran world and to explore whether and how WAM might provide, those services.
In the meantime, as we listened to you and walked with you through your new commitments and responsibilities, we came to understand that resources for ministry were naturally being stretched in many more directions. WAM has had to look carefully and almost analytically at our abilities and desires, coupled with what you are telling us you need and you can support, especially financially, at this time. No need to mention the additional effect of the economy on all our financial pictures!
The Board and Staff of WAM has come to some painful but, we believe, necessary and, potentially, quite productive and beneficial decisions. Looking at as many of the indicators as we could, the Board has concluded that for the present, individuals and congregations are telling us that the most compelling and vital ministry WA has is SOLA Publishing and, of course, Connections Magazine. In these two ministries, we are best able to place in your hands and in your homes the faithful confessional material you need to turn around the Gospel "drain" in our culture.
The saddest element of this change is saying good-bye to some staff, especially Jaynan Clark who leaves us as President. Jaynan's faithful understanding of our roots, her devotion to the Gospel, boundless energy, creative visioning, and, perhaps, most of all amazing courage and skill to stand before any power or authority falsely posing as confessional and speaking the truth in the face of that deception, has been unparalleled. The words "Thank you and we love you" seem so inadequate. Please, keep Jaynan in your prayers as she goes forward.
We are able to maintain and, hopefully, increase some staff time strictly from the SOLA side of WAM. Tom Walker will continue on as part time General Manager of SOLA, and, naturally, Steve King as General Editor. Other support staff you have come to know and depend on are also remaining. The increased staffing which is a crying need immediately must wait until our finances allow.
What can you expect from us now? You can count on our best efforts to not only continue but enhance delivery of cutting edge, orthodox, and sound materials for Adult Bible Study, Children's Ministry, Adult Christian Education, Vacation Bible School, and every other imaginable curriculum or study need that God gives us inspiration and energy to produce! You can expect that Connections Magazine will develop into the finest Lutheran journal that you might consider as a gift to family or friends who either have the faith and want it fed, or need a nudge in the direction of the Holy Spirit's gift of faith. You can expect us to listen to you attentively for guidance and suggestions about the development of products for your ministry.
What do we ask of you? First, always your prayers. Needless to say these decisions and all that led up to them have rattled us nearly to our foundations. But we are strong in the Lord and His strength so often takes flesh in your supportive prayers. We further ask you to speak to us regularly about what we are producing, tell us your experience with it and where we might go in the future. Finally, we ask, indeed, we beg your financial assistance.
The original impetus behind these changes has been the explosive growth in demand for SOLA materials. This is called a happy problem! But happy problems have some shadows lurking around them - usually financial. The growth has demanded more investment for staff, equipment, materials - just about everything. In order to keep our prices low, we do not put on a margin that covers all of the creative and development costs.
Please, consider continuing your WordAlone financial commitment to SOLA which knows and appreciates its birthright. Your regular gifts, even enhanced gifts, as well as your introducing both our materials and financial need to friends in other congregations will help guarantee that SOLA will grow to be the faithful, full service publishing house the new Lutheran landscape is seeking.
Steve King, our creative genius, in the midst of the difficult discussions of the past few weeks, reminded us that SOLA was actually named after WordAlone - SOLA refers to the Word alone. With the name and structure of the former WordAlone Network and WordAlone Ministries folding into the name and focused ministry of SOLA, we do not believe that WA or WAM is dying or that we are separating from it. We are continuing the heart of its initial vision and mission in a dramatic move forward in preaching, teaching and confessing with published, and perhaps one day, electronic materials that you can trust and feel safe giving to your kids as you pass on the faith to a new generation.
Thank you for your support in the past, for your understanding and standing with us in these important changes, and for your prayerful continued walk with us into the future. God bless you.