The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Fund for Leaders received a $5,000 gift from Portico Benefit Services -- winner of the “Blue Bike Challenge.” Portico is a ministry of the ELCA that provides benefits and services to enhance the well-being of rostered leaders and lay employees.
Sponsored by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, the challenge invited member organizations to ride a stationary bike and engage in social media “to promote a healthy, active lifestyle and a little friendly competition,” according to a Portico news release. Winner of the challenge earned a $5,000 prize to support a charity of choice.
“I was so excited to hear about this creative way to raise money for the ELCA Fund for Leaders,” said Rachel Wind, director of ELCA Fund for Leaders. “We have been blessed to be the ELCA ministry highlighted by Portico staff as their giving opportunity this year. More than $40,000 has been raised to establish the Portico Benefit Services Seminary Scholarship Endowment Fund, and gifts such as this one will enable this scholarship fund to grow. Thanks to the Rev. Jeffrey Thiemann and the entire staff at Portico for their commitment to leadership in this church,” she said.
ELCA Fund for Leaders is a scholarship program benefiting exceptional candidates for ministry, enabling this church to attract men and women of tremendous promise to study at one of eight ELCA seminaries. It serves as the ongoing promise of this church that those called to lead the ELCA have the opportunity to pursue a path that leads to informed faith and passionate discipleship.
While “Team Portico” rode an impressive 863 miles, it was the large number of posts that launched us into first place -- more than 1,500 on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, according to Kathy Shea, content and social media manager at Portico. Portico employees, family, friends, ELCA pastors and synods posted words of encouragement, photos and videos to support the team, which was made up of five core riders and two backup riders. The biking portion of the challenge took place May 8 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.
“As a ministry of the ELCA, our vision is to enhance the lives of our leaders and strengthen ministry,” said the Rev. Jeffery Thiemann, president and CEO of Portico. “We know that healthy leaders unburdened by financial worries are more effective leaders and role models for their congregations. Through these scholarship awards, we hope to ease the financial stress on new leaders as they enter ministry ― and invest in the future leadership of our church.”
“Our whole organization was quite proud to help make this contribution happen,” said Shea. “It was truly a team effort, riders riding their hearts out, and the rest of us tweeting and posting to cheer them on.”
Information about ELCA Fund for Leaders is available at http://www.elca.org/Our-Work/Leadership/ELCA-Fund-for-Leaders and Portico Benefit Services at https://www.porticobenefits.org.