A Heritage Community of the Lower Susquehanna Synod (LSS-ELCA) is a missional distinction of congregations nearing the end of their life-cycle. The purpose is to move such congregations from survival to a richer state of living in hope.

  • Heritage Community Designation

A congregation will want to consider applying for the Heritage Community designation when it meets 3 of the following 5 criteria:

  • The congregation’s average worshipping community is less than 40 people for a period of five years or more;
  • The congregation has been established for at least fifty years;
  • The congregation’s treasury bears an over-reliance on building use or endowment income (more than 35% of operating budget);
  • The pastoral office of the congregation has performed neither a baptism nor an affirmation of faith in the last two years;
  • The congregation is unable to fulfill constitutional requirements for Congregational Council (Model Constitution C12).

When a congregation has assessed these criteria exist, then the congregation must approve by simple majority at a congregational meeting to commit itself to working with a Heritage Community Consultant (HCC) and those related activities as outlined below.

The Rev. Richard E. T. Jorgensen Jr.Director for Evangelical Mission for Renewing Mission
Rev. Richard Jorgensen is our contact for congregations interested in learning more about becoming a Heritage Community.
  • How to become a Heritage Community

An intake interview with the Director for Evangelical Mission (DEM) will connect the congregation to a Heritage Community consultant. A Heritage Community Consultant (HCC) is a trained volunteer who will lead critical conversations, be a doula for essential elements of the Heritage Community application and accompany the congregation as long as it maintains this designation.

With the Heritage Community Consultant, the congregation will complete the following:

  • The congregation will have adopted a Living Will. A congregational Living Will is a document which outlines the conditions which require a vote to close or merge the congregation.
  • The congregation will have conducted a facility audit in which the complete contents of all facilities will be inventoried, the properties owned detailed and appraised, and current and future facility needs itemized.

Once these steps are complete an application may be submitted to the LSS-ELCA Bishop’s office to be designated as a Heritage Community.

  • Living as a Heritage Community

Heritage Communities will still maintain worship, ministries, active prayer partners, and other activities. The HCC will help to lead the congregation through a variety of conversations and programs concerning grief and corporate grieving, the life-cycle of a congregation, and the organic nature of congregational life, joys and sorrows and all that the years have brought.

For a full list of how Heritage Communities operate in conjunction with the HCC, click the link below: