1-COMPONENTS OF THE LIAISON PROGRAM
1st & Foremost Component Is The Spiritual Factor There is a spiritual response that one has to the fact that someone would put oneself in harm’s way to protect someone else. To the ultimate degree we see this in Jesus Christ (“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 NIV) and in a similar way we see this in military personnel (“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” 1 John 3:16 NIV). Jesus is the One who motivates us to have appreciation for and concern for those in the military. This spiritual component is what should be the motivating factor in wanting to be a Liaison to one’s congregation. The unique audience that the LMSG and the Liaison Program have will naturally present itself as a strong voice of witnessing to the non-churched military as they see how well God’s people are lovingly taken care of.
2nd Component Is The Service Factor A Liaison is one who wants to serve, to serve others by supporting those who may be struggling in or out of their military duty, who wants all the attention and help to be generated in the direction of other military people rather than on themselves or their own service record. He or she wants to serve others and strives to learn what the needs are and what services are appropriate for that person’s situation. He or she strives to seek out and involve not only the other military persons in the congregation, but to also share the experience with the rest of the congregation (when appropriate-due to confidentiality).
3rd Component Is The Education Factor There is the need to inform congregants of the unique needs of the military person…to enlighten your congregation’s children that a real hero wears combat boots and not a cape…to be available to help all church members understand and accept the Scriptural basis for the defense of one’s borders and citizens from outside intruders…help others broaden their perspective beyond the local church to the Church at large as to the needs of and contributions that can be made by the Lutheran military in their role of letting the Light of Jesus shine brightly to the world.
2-ROLE OF THE CONGREGATIONAL LIAISON
The Role In Relation To The Military Support Group (National) The Office of the congregational Liaison is an extension of the LMSG as a national organization. The Liaison’s primary role in relation to the LMSG is not intended as a representative in name only, but to represent by facilitating the flow of information two ways…from the National office and the office of the National Liaison Coordinator to the LMSG Chapter and congregational level, and also facilitating the information flow from the local LMSG Chapter level back to the National office. In this way God’s people can learn of the needs of the service-connected person, and God’s Spirit can move them to appropriately meet those needs. The Liaison doesn’t have to be a polished public speaker as much as a facilitator of information who has a passion for those who have served in the military. Under this same part of the website that you are now in, under 5-REPORTING PURPOSES, is a list of other responsibilities for the congregational Liaison. The National office is positioned to help you in your role as this chief facilitator and communicator in your congregation.
The congregational Liaison in this facilitator’s role, is then to work with LMSG National in focusing the congregation’s attention on the three Support Services Areas and Projects. See Liaison Information, main page on the website, for further information, and then by clicking on the Header-Annual Support Services Months.
The Role In Relation To The Respective Synods The Lutheran Military Support Group is a national level organization, designed to have national reach, but local impact. LMSG is designed to be both an auxiliary to WELS Military Services in their support of active duty service members, and an independent organization supporting the needs of our military veterans and our “military families” of Active Duty/Reservists/National Guard/Coast Guard/US Flag Merchant Marine members and our Veterans.
The Role In Relation To The Congregation The Liaison position can serve an important role in the Church, but it is not one in which you serve in this capacity on a church Board or as an officer of the congregation (Church Council/Voters). The Lutheran Military Support Group-Congregational Liaison represents a service group within the congregation and it’s respective Synod, which as a service group is supportive of the overall ministry of the church as well as carrying out it’s own stated mission. The Liaison actively keeps the church leadership informed of its ministry and related-activities. It should be noted that Congregational Constitution/By-Laws might delegate to a particular congregational Board the oversight of all auxiliary church groups. As to the relationship between WELS Military Services and each Synod/congregation, and the opportunities and activities in the local congregations, LMSG sees itself and the congregational Liaison as conduits and enablers/enhancers for the flow of information, resources, and expertise, flowing up and down between the two entities.
The Role In Relation To Military Congregants The congregational Liaison locally will be able to work in tandem with the LMSG nationally in developing programs and identifying referral resources that will focus on three key areas of ministry to the military service person : 1) active duty support; 2) veteran support, and 3) military family support.
★ Active Duty Support: Because of the local LMSG ties with LMSG National, you share in the ability to see logistical, financial, educational and human resources support going to the WELS Military Services. “Active Duty” includes those currently serving in the Military, the Reserves, the National Guard, the Coast Guard, and the US Flag Merchant Marine . These five distinct groups are included in all three support group categories of Active Duty-Veteran-and Military Family Support. As current and former military people who have been, or currently are, “over there”, we bring a host of skills, relationships, and perspectives not generally found among civilian church leadership.
★Veteran Support: LMSG’s initial efforts have been centered around supporting and enhancing Synodical activities in addressing PTSD. Military Services-WELS, through Pastor Paul Ziemer and others, is very involved in education, training and addressing PTSD from a spiritual/pastor’s perspective. We at LMSG bring personal expertise to the areas of PTSD and PTSD treatment. Support of our Lutheran Veterans will be enhanced further through the introduction of the “A Salute To Our Veterans” program with its Honor Ceremony held on the local congregational level.
★Military Family Support: Those who have served are acutely aware of the critical role military families play in creating and maintaining an effective military force, and are also aware of the unique hardships suffered by families of active duty/forward-based/forward deployed troops, and also the unique hardships suffered by the family members of Veterans. Not only are Veteran family members supporting those who have served, but in a real and tangible way, military family members have also served, sacrificed and suffered in their own right. We are also looking at supporting connectivity, catechism, and bible information/education class opportunities for the family members (spouse and children) stationed at remote locations who otherwise would go without.
3-QUALIFICATIONS FOR THIS ROLE
Each congregational Liaison should be service-connected, i.e., as US Military, Reserves, National Guard, Coast Guard, or US Flag Merchant Marine whether as active duty or former military, or is the spouse and adult children of a military person living or deceased. In case the desire is there in the congregation to begin this work, but there are currently no service-connected members, then a non-military member could be chosen as the Liaison, until such time as the situation is changed as to a service-connected member who is available and willing to serve in this capacity. As a church member, you will want to submit your intentions to the appropriate Board that oversees the church auxiliary groups so that they are informed about your desire to be that representative and to be recognized as such by your congregation. Sometimes an individual offers to be Liaison on their own initiative because the military members haven’t been meeting yet and someone is needed to rally the troops. In other cases, a number of military members have expressed interest in the efforts of the LMSG, have met to discuss this, and as a group decide on one of them to offer to the congregation to be that Liaison. Some local LMSG’ s get organized and are functioning, but their congregation has not decided to actually join the LMSG as yet. In all three such situations, it is recommended that the congregation knows of the intentions to join LMSG and itself approves to join the LMSG (National) before an individual or a group of Veterans begin to represent the congregation. In such cases, notify the National Membership Coordinator- John Stedman, so he can provide you with an introductory packet you can present to your congregational leadership.
4-REGISTERING OF THE LIAISON AND THE CONGREGATION
On the LMSG website you can enter your registration as an Individual Supporter, or as a Congregation with a Liaison.
NOTE: In registering as a Liaison for your congregation you will be asked to give your personal e-mail address. LMSG does not make it available to 3rd parties, but will use it for communications between National and the local level. Also, all Chapter Liaisons will be listed on the National Website so other Liaisons can communicate with you as a Liaison. If you do not feel comfortable that your e-mail address is posted on the National website, leave it blank, and ask your pastor if the church’s email address should be listed in place of yours (and he can forward all mail to you). Contact the National Liaison Coordinator, if you have questions on this.
★ Each Congregational Liaison is asked to e-mail a short bio and picture (in uniform, if possible) that will be posted on the website. www.LutheranMilitary.org.
★ Create for your use as a Liaison a contact list of all who are Active Duty service members, Active National Guard, Active Coast Guard, Active Reservists, Active Mariners, along with Veterans, and any immediate family members (spouse and children) of a veteran who died while in service that are still members in the congregation.
★ Provide LMSG-National with a current census of all active duty personnel who are members of your congregation. (See CENSUS Form button below). With a potential of 1,500-4,500 active duty Lutheran members in our fellowship, this information is vital in order to let our service people know what we can provide them, and to let our MCP (Military Contact Person in that area) know where to minister to them.
★ Provide regularly a report to a congregational Board if the congregation’s By-Laws require that Board to give oversight to any auxiliary organization, such as the LMSG-Local.
★ Be available to help LMSG-National carry out it’s two main fund-raising programs, on Memorial Day and Veterans Day.
★ Be a conduit from the congregational level to the national level by sharing with National what your grass roots needs (of active duty personnel, veterans, and their families within your congregation) are. LMSG-National offers free PTSD counseling on a confidential basis.
★ Set up a schedule to regularly keep before the congregation an awareness of the LMSG-National and Local and their activities, through a once-a-quarter update to the Board of Elders/Church Council/Voters or Congregation, through distributing LMSG handouts 3-times-a-year, perhaps through hosting “A Salute to Our Veterans-Honor Ceremony”, and your own locally accepted way of updating the membership.
★ The National Board of the LMSG offers on this website to each Liaison and local Chapter of LMSG a template of a letterhead that can be used in one’s local efforts and in reporting to LMSG National. See the button below.
★ The LMSG’s website offers a number of ways for Liaisons to report to, to communicate with, to ask questions of, and to receive help from the National Board. Click on the appropriate Button see how easy it is to communicate.
6-NATIONAL EVENTS CALENDAR
Each year the National Board through congregational Liaisons would like to highlight the three support service areas. To avoid the times of the church year that are the busiest, and to spread out the publicity over the entire year, National is recommending the following schedule. During February, July, and October a Sunday is set aside for distribution of one Support Service Area-specific handout. Room on the Calendar is provided for LMSG-Local to host three local events, such as A Salute To Our Veterans. Also marked on the Calendar are the twice-a-year months that fundraising is done for National Projects. Look for the schedule under the button-National Events Calendar.
7- INITIAL SPECIAL PROJECT: MEMBERS/FRIENDS CONTACT LIST
The following is a suggestion for a early project that can benefit the congregation, benefit the local LMSG, and will give a clear message that this new group is serious about projects that help the ministry. (NOTE: This recommendation to start off with this project is not a mandate from the LMSG-National to the congregational Liaison, but it is highly recommended for benefiting the congregation and one’s LMSG-Local.) A challenge for any congregation is to have an updated membership roster. If one gets created, it can happen that no one faithfully updates it. A current roster is needed for many reasons that affect the congregation’s ministry. The Board of Elders need it to review and know whom to pray for, whom to reach out to for discipline, who is a member and who has been dropped. The ladies Emergency Phone Call list needs updated info. Any mailings or e-mail letters by the church need correct addresses. This Contact List would also contain contact info on “Friends”. “Friends” refers to non-members who worship regularly and have also verbally indicated that they are interested in possibly joining, whom the Pastor and Elders would like to include in most congregational mailings, announcements, and church emails. The local LMSG that is just forming, can use this project to propel themselves forward by helping themselves learn who are the military people in the congregation as the contact information is being gathered. There are two directions this project can go. The local LMSG spearheads the project to distribute and gather up the Contact Information Forms and turns it over to a Board who themselves update the List. Or, the local LMSG distributes and gathers the Forms, AND, offers to keep it updated from that point on, as the Elders and others turn in updated info as it becomes available. The distinct advantage with the last proposal, is that there is now a guarantee that both the congregation and the local LMSG will have accurate information for everyone’s purposes long into the future.
PRESENTING THE SERVICE PROJECT PROPOSAL
★ The person to head this project would be the Liaison, another congregational Military Person, or a very enthusiastic Patriot from the congregation who would be appointed to coordinate this one project.
★ Discuss with the Chairman of the Board of Elders the written proposal to create or update, and to maintain the Member/Friends Contact List for the congregation. Request to present this written proposal to the Board of Elders.
★ Present to the Elders the written proposal and the Contact Information Gathering Form. Click on Written Proposal and Contact Information buttons below to customize and make your own copies. Please keep in mind when gathering the information and creating/updating the data base for this service project that: for the purposes of LMSG-National and Local, a service-connected person, a military person, an Active Duty person, and a Veteran, refer to any person who has served the United States in the US Military Forces, the Reserves, the National Guard, the Coast Guard, or the US Flag Merchant Marine, or a spouse/adult child of a military person/or a Veteran who is deceased.
★ At bare minimum, they could respond to your offer by allowing you to only gather and enter the information from the members and friends. But then the Elders would need to maintain the Member/Friends Contact List on their own.
★ Once this is approved, have the Bd. establish on what OS-Operating System (Windows or Mac) that they want the original list to be.
★ Besides the basic info needed for any member or friend listed in the Contact List, be sure to mark in some way on each computer Contact Card entry, if this person or family or split-family (of member and non-member spouse) is a member(s) or a friend (s) of the congregation.
★ Print enough copies of the Contact Information Gathering Form for an estimated number of single adults, and married couples.
★ For those already known as members and friends, pre-fill in the single adult or the spouses’ names onto the Forms before they are handed out, as a way to encourage their cooperation and to be able to track.
★ Determine how you want to distribute them, and when and how to have them returned.
★ Use the collected information to update the congregation’s currently accepted format for their Contact List, or, if the congregation prefers- create a new List.
★ Once the congregational leadership decide who gets a copy, distribute a digital copy of the completed Member/Friend Contact List.
★ As Liaision or LMSG-Local appointed coordinator of this project, check each month with the pastor/contact on the Elders after their last meeting, and inquire if there have been any additions to or subtractions from or corrections to the current Members/Friends Contact List, make those changes, and distribute the updated version to the appropriate parties.
★ This project helps the Board of Elders who can take the completed Contact List and any updates to create and keep current a separate list of members only, that they can then use in their monthly meetings to discuss both members who are sick and stressed, and who are becoming or are delinquent, and to pray over in their meeting and outside that meeting until the Board’s next meeting.
★ On the master copy of the Members/Friends Contact List decide how in the notes on the Card or through a colored tag, to note who is in the Military / Reserves / National Guard / Coast Guard/ US Flag Merchant Marine that is actively serving, who is a veteran (show his/her enlistment date and discharge date), and also anyone who is a remaining spouse/adult child of a veteran who has died.