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In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus tells a story to his followers of a man who, before setting off on a long trip, divided his money among his servants and asked them to take care of it. "To one he gave five thousand dollars, to another two thousand, and to a third one thousand, depending on their abilities." When he returned several years later the man called his servants together to see what they had made of the wealth that he left them. Two of them, it turns out, had taken risks, put the man's money to work, and doubled the initial investment. The third, afraid to make a mistake or to disappoint, found a good hiding place and told the master that he had kept it "safe and sound down to the last cent." While well-intentioned and perfectly understandable, this response infuriated the master who expected his servant to put to good use the gifts that had been entrusted to him.
At this point in the BKB Program Year, with the vast majority of scholarships paid and student lists updated, we find ourselves in a position similar to the servants in this parable. As mission committees and leadership teams we have each been entrusted with significant resources to invest in education among our companions in Iringa. Together we are supporting nearly one thousand students in their secondary studies - the vast majority of which come from families with little or no ability to pay on their own. This is good news. The even better news is that there is more we can do.
Reviewing our records, there is still a lot of money sitting in our bank accounts that has been allocated for scholarships and education. Thanks to a variety of factors, including favorable exchange rates and accrued balances from previous years, many of our congregations have a surplus of funds in their scholarship accounts. Varying in size from a couple hundred dollars to several thousand, these positive balances do little good if they aren't put to use.
By November we'll be soliciting pledges for the 2017 scholarship year. Before then I encourage you and your leadership teams to review your scholarship accounts and consider what additional investments you might make with the wealth that you have been entrusted with for 2016. Go ahead and set aside some for a rainy day or a stray late payment; doing so is only prudent. At the same time, don't be afraid to act boldly with the resources that you are tasked with stewarding.
With the guidance of the Iringa Committee, we have created general funds for congregations to contribute to. Should you choose, you can contribute a portion of your year-end surplus to: 1) The Scholarship Equity Fund to support students from non-partnered congregations in Iringa; 2) The Infrastructure Fund to support building projects like the science labs at Lutangilo; or, 3) The Teacher Training Fund to support the professional development of educators at diocese secondary schools. Through initiatives like these you have the opportunity to extend the reach of your dollars and we, as a whole BKB community, can redouble commitment to scholarships and education in Iringa.
For current account balances and scholarship student lists, please contact your BKB Cluster Leader. To transfer scholarship money or make a new contribution to one of these three funds, please contact Saint Paul Area Synod Financial Administrator Greg Triplett (firstname.lastname@example.org). For any other questions, please email email@example.com. We thank you in advance for your prayerful consideration and faithful support of this relationship.
With gratitude for the opportunities before us,
The Rev. Peter Harrits, Director of Bega Kwa Bega & Assistant to the Bishop