• Bethany Lutheran Church in Minneapolis’ Seward neighborhood received a letter of censure and admonition from Craig Johnson, bishop of the Minneapolis Area Synod, Sept. 22, in response to the irregular ordination of Jay Wiesner, a gay man in a committed relationship (September, page 31). In the letter, Johnson said Bethany "pre-empted the ELCA's process by [its] decision. This has put ordained leaders in our synod and the larger church in a difficult position with their congregations. You have broken an important vital covenant with your fellow congregations." Johnson won't consider disciplinary action until the ELCA completes its study on human sexuality. Pastor Steven Benson of Bethany told The Lutheran: "We understand it is the bishop's responsibility to maintain order in the church. We fully expected some kind of admonishment. We felt called to our act of 'churchly disobedience' as part of our witness, and we have from the beginning been willing to accept consequences for our actions. It's our hope that the stress we bear will encourage other congregations to consider more seriously the crisis before us and the pain endured by so many because of misunderstanding and prejudice. What we desire most is to get on with our mission and ministry in the place to which God has called us. We're grateful that Bishop Johnson's censure will allow us to do just that."
• The Transfiguration of Christ, painted by Finnish artist Berndt Abraham Godenhjelm (1799-1881) has been touring the United States and again made its home at Sitka [Alaska] Lutheran Church this fall. The Finns, Swedes, Baltic Germans, Latvians and Ingrians who worked for the Russian-America Company were members of the first and oldest Protestant congregation in Alaska, the Lutheran Church of New Archangel, founded in 1839-40. The painting was brought to the United States in 1839, and first hung in the Lutheran chapel of the governor's house, and in 1843 it moved to the church's current site. A Godenhjelm painting provides scholars and artists an opportunity to study the classic Finnish artist whose reputation continues to grow. It has been displayed in Finland and Russia, and was exhibited in Michigan, Illinois, Minneapolis and Washington.
• In Racine, Wis., Lutheran Church of the Resurrection’s visitors group produced a compact disc of daily devotions for newcomers. In addition to the seven devotions, the CD has Scripture readings, prayers, hymns and church information.
• If the children attending day camp at Faith Lutheran Church, Wilmington, Ohio, brought 1,000 charity and food items, their counselor, Katie Bombardi, a student at Pacific Lutheran Seminary, Berkeley, Calif., said she would cut off her hair for Locks of Love, which provides hairpieces for ill children. They reached their goal, and another counselor from Lutheran Outdoor Ministries in Ohio was the designated cutter.
• On Sunday, Feb. 6, young people from more than 15,000 congregations, schools and organizations are expected to raise more than $5 million through the Souper Bowl of Caring. Groups donate collections directly to their charity of choice. The Souper Bowl of Caring is a grass-roots, faith-based crusade against hunger led by young people who collect donations in soup pots on Super Bowl Sunday. Last year more than $4.26 million helped hungry people. Visit www.souperbowl.org or call (800) 358-7587.
• In Adamstown, Pa., members of St. Paul Lutheran Church have been busy collecting diapers. Members Tim and Rania Seigart in May welcomed three girls and one boy into the world. The babies need changing up to 40 times a day, so the community rallied to help meet their needs--to the tune of some 3,500 diapers.
• "Hook 'Em for the Hungry" was a service project at St. Matthew by the Lake Lutheran Church, Benton, Ky. Community and church members donated 1,012 pounds of fish; matching funds helped buy another 900 pounds of chicken for a county agency to distribute to the needy.
• A time capsule under the cornerstone of Luther Hall at Trinity Lutheran Church, Victoria, Texas, was opened in early June. It was originally placed there when the hall was constructed in April 1928. The capsule included a picture of the 1928 confirmation class, names of the church council, a fragile American flag with 48 stars, a Bible and a small newspaper form of The Lutheran (Vol. 10, No. 21).
• Coffee continues to be a hot commodity in congregational outreach. Soul Café, Hood River Ore., is a nonprofit shop that offers Tuesday night Bible study and communion. It's open daily in part because of volunteers and its founder Jill Gendreau, former pastor of one of Hood River's ELCA churches. Holy Grounds Café, Canton, Ohio, offers a place for young adults to hang out, listen to Christian music and worship. The cafe supports the Lutheran World Relief coffee project, with all proceeds going to local needs such as Trinity Lutheran Church's soup kitchen, Habitat for Humanity and other short-term mission projects. Spirit Rhythms Coffee House, Three Rivers, Mich., opens once-a-month at St. John Lutheran Church. While sipping coffee, the audience is treated to anything from jazz quartets to Christian bands.
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