Here We Stand – January 2016 Update

You Are An Ironman By Rev. Dr. Evan P. Gaertner

I have joined fellow Michigan pastors Mark Milatz, Drew Gruenhagen, and Ben Vogel in preparing for the IRONMAN Triathlon in Louisville, KY in October 2016. The IRONMAN is made up of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and a 26.2 mile run (or, in our case, waddle). Though we have all participated in some significant athletic events in the past, such as a full marathon, none of us have ever tackled this distance of 140.6 miles. The next 10 months will include painstaking training so that we can finish the race.

It may sound crazy, but we’re all looking forward to it. No doubt, we all are excited about the personal challenge. Crossing the finish line to, “Evan Gaertner, you are an Ironman” is going to be one of those bucket-list-type moments. But while we all feel personally motivated, we also felt compelled to use this race as a vehicle to help others. After all, our church members, family, and friends are going to take notice, so why not involve them? That’s why we’re also racing to raise funds for the Here We Stand Campaign initiated by the Michigan District. We are aiming to raise 20 scholarships in the amount of $1406 each for students that are training for careers in churches and Christian schools. Our race will equip them to complete their educational journey, and set them on the path to teach others how to run the race of faith that is set before them.

I know that my formation as a pastor was aided by countless others. I want to help lift the burden of finances off of the shoulders of people preparing to serve in our congregations and schools. I want them to know that they are not alone on their journey. Supporting and strengthening professional church worker scholarships will help ensure that students and their families will be reminded that they are a part of a community of caring people who want to see them succeed. There is great joy in being a part of an effort to help the next generation to carry the torch and bring the light of Christ to more people.

I am sure that the Here We Stand Campaign will have some traditional requests for money, but I know that the four of us wanted to do something different, something new. We are anxious about the time required to get ready for this race. Time is hard for all of us to manage. We each have families and congregations to serve. As we try to manage our time to find moments for training, I hope that we inspire people in our congregations and community to manage their own time to become better equipped to help others.

During our training and racing I look forward to opportunities to share the love of Jesus and His gift of eternal life. Your prayers and support are greatly appreciated as we train. You can learn more about our efforts to complete this race by visiting our website at

Campaign Progress

Over $150,000 gifted to date

Congregation Highlights

Is your congregation considering a capital campaign in the next 3 years? Including a campaign tithe to Here We Stand is a great way to participate.

Resource Tip

Please visit for dates and locations of the 18 congregational workshops.

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