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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Acting on forgiveness

S.D. congregation turns tragedy into renewed zeal to reach out

A tragedy described by its pastor as "one of the darkest moments of St. Peter Lutheran Church" unexpectedly revitalized this once-struggling congregation in Madison, S.D. After vandals caused more than $40,000 worth of interior damage to their building last August, this rural congregation has had a 29 percent membership increase, a boost in worship attendance and a renewed zeal to reach out to those in need.

It all began when the congregation received widespread media coverage of the vandalism: obscenities painted and carved into the sanctuary's walls and fixtures, gouged pews, broken windows and dishes, smashed light fixtures, slashed artwork, and Bibles and communion trays flung throughout the sanctuary.


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