Two years ago, the Rio Texas Conference received a request from Lydia Patterson Institute to support the LPI Capital Fund Campaign. The leaders of our Finance Table, Uniting Table, and Cabinet have considered this request and have agreed to set a goal of giving $500,000 over the next several years.

To fulfill this gift, rather than launching a conference-wide capital campaign or increasing apportionments, we will redirect $50,000 of current budget support for the next three years, while relying principally on voluntary contributions and offerings from our churches.

Is this possible? Will we be able to raise the bulk of this amount through our congregations? It is a bold goal, but I believe we can do it. In fact, I am delighted to celebrate with you a lead gift of $50,000 from First UMC in Kerrville! Leaders from that congregation have already visited La Lydia in El Paso, to begin relationships with students and faculty and to explore bringing an LPI intern to work on the church staff. Our thanks to Rev. Ryan Barnett and his visionary leaders for thinking big and practicing extravagant generosity in the service of mission.

In response to that generosity, we can also celebrate that churches large and small are already committing themselves to give.  University UMC, San Antonio, committed to match Kerrville First UMC's gift, and El Divino Redentor UMC in McAllen pledged a minimum of $1000. When you add the offering conference delegates contributed on the floor of the conference and online, we came away from Corpus with a total of $$54,032 in pledges and gifts to the LPI campaign.

This is a great start! Now it falls to you to think about how your church might support this effort. Perhaps your congregation can make a bold gift of $25,000 or $10,000. Perhaps yours can join other churches in making gifts of $5,000, $1,000, or $500. Imagine churches of a district collaborating to reach $50,000 together. Imagine Sunday School classes, youth groups, United Methodist Men’s or Women’s units raising gifts of $250 or $500. We can do this.

If First UMC, Kerrville can offer $50,000 to this important effort, what might your church be capable of giving? Imagine if several other churches stepped forward with bold gifts of $25,000 or $10,000. Imagine if a large number of our churches brought forward gifts of $5,000, or $1,000, or $500. Imagine if the churches of a district collaborated to reach $50,000 together. Imagine Sunday School classes, youth groups, United Methodist Men’s or Women’s units gathering gifts of $250 or $500. We can do this.

I hope you will give prayerful consideration to how you and your congregation can support this vital ministry of education, which has shaped the lives of thousands of young people since its inception in 1913. No single institution has had a more enduring and fruitful impact on the mission and ministry of our own conference than Lydia Patterson Institute. Over 150 clergy candidates received their preparation at Lydia Patterson, and eleven district superintendents, four military chaplains, a United Methodist seminary president, and a United Methodist bishop were all educated at LPI. Hundreds of lay persons found their callings and formation for careers in law, engineering, medicine, music, and education.

La Lydia has earned a reputation of excellence, placing one hundred percent of the 2016 graduating high school class in colleges and universities. The current capital funds campaign will extend this tradition of success into the future, renovating, expanding, and upgrading LPI facilities with state-of-the-art technology and infrastructure. I hope you will join me in giving to ensure that future. Thank you for your prayerful consideration of this effort.

Yours in Christ, Robert Schnase