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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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A beacon of peace, welcome

Men from group home are 'part of the family'

Robert Linstrom serves up a nice double entendre when he describes how the guys at Beacon Specialized Living Services had trouble finding a church home before they "came to Peace."

But that seems to be exactly what happened to about 10 mentally disabled adult men who visited Peace Evangelical Lutheran in South Haven, Mich., nearly three years ago.

Jeffrey and Daniel (last names withheld)
Jeffrey and Daniel (last names withheld) sing hymns at Peace Lutheran Church in South Haven, Mich. The two, residents of Beacon Specialized Living Services in Bangor, have been welcomed into the faith community of Peace.

"The first Sunday they came they were welcomed," said Linstrom, pastor of Peace. "Sure, there were some eyebrows raised and some apprehension, but they were generally welcomed."

A couple of members even came forward and asked if they could "shepherd" the men in their congregational involvement.

Ken Ratzlaff, Beacon president/CEO, said Peace's welcome has made all the difference to the home's residents, who previously were literally "kicked out of churches."


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