October 17, 2016

Abundant Blessing

            The Apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 9:8, “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”  At Central Seminary, we trust in the provision of God for our mission, and that past week we were able to participate in God’s abundant blessing of Bethel Neighborhood Center.
            Each year, the Central Region of ABC churches gives Central a portion of its offering to support our work in theological education, preparing women and men for seeking God, shaping churches, and serving the world.  We are grateful for this long-standing generosity, and we have a fruitful relationship with our region.
            As many of you know, our sister ministry, Bethel Neighborhood Center, has been in a protracted capital campaign.  No one has worked harder than Mang Sonna in garnering funds, some of them matching grants.  At this point, approximately $85,000 is needed to complete the campaign.  Once they have this money pledged, the matching funds will kick in and Bethel can begin its construction and renovation that will expand its essential mission.

            By my calculation, the amount Central is scheduled to receive in 2017 is about $85,000.  This past Friday at the annual meeting of the ABCCR, I requested that Central’s allocation in the Kansas Plan (the funding formula our region uses for its institutions) be given to Bethel to complete their capital campaign.
            I made very clear that this is for one year ONLY, as we need our region’s funds to sustain our own mission.  Eight-five thousand is a significant amount, about 2% of our budget, and we will work hard to cover this loss.  It seemed the right thing to do, however, for Central to give sacrificially to another member of the ABC family.  As we do so, we trust the living God that we will have all that we need, and that this gift is an expression of abounding in every good work.
            As he heard this news, Central alumnus Mang Sonna, wept tears of joy and gratitude at God’s faithfulness.  We were able to celebrate together God’s provision in the midst of our ABC extended family, demonstrating that God is abundant in blessing every collaboration for good.

            My friend Dr. David Goatley, Executive Director of the Lott Carey Mission Society, has suggested that God’s people ought to be measured by what we scatter rather than what we gather.  If we trust that there is more than enough because of God’s abundance, we can be generous as an institution.  Central trusts in God’s generosity, expressed through faithful friends and churches.
            As we move into the season of harvest and Thanksgiving, we celebrate God’s bounty and give thanks for the grace that prompts a response of gratitude.  We are grateful to be an instrument of grace in the service of God’s great mission.

            Molly T. Marshall

Central prepares women and men for seeking God, shaping churches, and serving the world.

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