Dear Trinity Family,


The congregations of the Watonwan River Conference have a wonderful opportunity to further the kingdom of God by contributing to the building of another church in the Shiyane Circuit (think Synod) in South Africa.   As you remember this past fall we were blessed by some amazing visitors from South Africa.  For those of you who remember Landy, it is her congregation that our conference is helping to fund the building of a church.   Please take a moment to read the letter from Jim Branstad and the Watonwan Conference Partnership Committee… and then prayerfully consider supporting this endeavor.  




Jim’s letter…

A New Shiyane Building Opportunity!


This past fall the Watonwan River Conference had the marvelous privilege of hosting a group of 14 delightful church members from our partner circuit, Shiyane, from South Africa.  Many people have commented on what a blessing it was to have them here… some highlights included partaking in marvelous music, having conversations long into the night with host families, and simply developing friendships.  


You may also recall that in the early months of 2015 we had the privilege of helping to fund (at a level of 80% of total costs) the building of a church in Nsongeni.  Seven of us from Watonwan went to that dedication, which was yet another privilege. Now, the Watonwan River Conference has been invited to participate in another adventure…  helping to fund the building of a church at eTholeni.


Perhaps you were one of the people who heard the oft-repeated refrain, “I wish we could move this church to South Africa.”  Our churches with shrinking membership are so in contrast to churches that are filled almost before the building is completed.  Unfortunately, it is impossible to helicopter a church building to South Africa, but we can help fund the construction… and this time we have an exciting offer of matching funds to jumpstart our fundraising.   A matching gift of $10,000 has been given by an anonymous donor to encourage our generosity. We are aiming for a total of approximately $36,000, and we are well on our way. Imagine. In the US many of our larger cars cost $36,000, but in South Africa, one can build a whole church for that amount!  It doesn’t have many of the amenities that US churches have, but there will now be a space for Sunday School and worship, funerals, weddings, as well as a space for community functions. Like last time, our commitment will be 80%. The Shiyane Circuit is committed to share in the financial responsibility of this project and will raise funds to cover the remaining 20% of the construction costs. (They have raised way more than half of that already). The building contractor will once again be Mr. Hendry Duze, who is a member of the Nazareth Parish of Shiyane Circuit.  Many of you got to meet him when he was here in September.


Last time there were some quite amazing and fun ways that funds were raised.  One pastor offered to have his beard cut off during the church service if the confirmands raised a certain amount of money - which they did! Other churches sent monies from their women’s organization.  From other congregations there was a budgetary commitment. From others it was individuals. There is no right way. But whatever the way, one thing is certain. We are indeed privileged to be able to share out of our abundance to bless the people of God in Shiyane.  Our goal is to be done with fundraising by June 1. Shiyane’s goal is to start building July 1.


May God bless you this Lenten/Easter Season as you contemplate this challenge!


PS…  How to remit payments?  If you are an individual, and want a tax deduction, make out your gift to your home congregation or to First Lutheran, St. James, clearly noting that this is designated giving for the Watonwan Conference Partnership Committee’s Shiyane Circuit’s church building project.  If you are a church remitting payments, or don’t care about tax deductibility, make checks out to Watonwan Conference Partnership Committee, ℅ Jim Branstad, 213 2nd Avenue South, St. James, MN 56081.

 Jim Branstad and the Watonwan Conference Partnership Committee


Please prayerfully consider how you can support this endeavor.                                                                                Pastor Krista



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