A gunman who wounded several children at North Valley Jewish Community Center, Los Angeles, in August underscores the need for ELCA schools and churches to have a crisis plan in place. "Just as this can happen during a weekday, it can just as easily occur on a Sunday morning when the faithful are gathered and children attend Sunday school," says John Scibilia, ELCA director for schools. These resources can help in developing a plan: Violence Prevention, Grief and Suicide, ELCA Department for Schools, www.elca.org/dhes/schools; Safe Schools Manual, www.nea.org/issues/safescho/; National School Safety Center, www.nssc1.org; Center for the Prevention Of School Violence, www.ncsu.edu/cpsv/; and National Association of School Psychologists, www.naspweb.org/.
On All Saints' Sunday, worshipers at Zoar Lutheran Church, Tofte, Minn., were reminded of the Easter promise of life. Lucille Nelson brought back to church the Easter plant she had nurtured over the months at home. To the astonishment of many, the lilies were still in bloom. "They served as a reminder of the strength we acquire through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ," said Linda Wahlstrom, pastor of Zoar. Emphasizing its history of "sowing the gospel," Zion Lutheran Church, Anoka, Minn., broke ground on its $5 million expansion using an old hand plow pulled not by a horse but by parishioners who lined the four ropes attached to the plow. Then they scooped up soil in empty film containers, which members will bring back next spring for a dedication and symbolic planting of seeds for the future. Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, Columbus, Ohio, gave members the opportunity to celebrate their birthdays by donating to the "Birthday Bank." Grace raised $1,075.88 to support friends of the congregation working for Wycliff Bible Translators. The California Legislature gave a Community Service Award to Christ the King Lutheran Church, Van Nuys, for its ministries, including the Homework Center, an after-school program geared for pupils of the nearby elementary school. Church volunteers help children with their homework, especially those whose parents have limited education or English skills. So many unbaptized older children and adults were attending St. Matthew Lutheran, Beaverton, Ore., that the church organized a special service to initiate them. After holding a Lenten baptism-preparation program, St. Matthew baptized 20 at an Easter vigil. Last year the first Sunday of October was busy for Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, Jonestown, Pa., which piled four honoraries onto the day: Festival of Faith Sunday, Harvest Home Sunday, Blanket Sunday and Worldwide Communion Sunday. Members enjoyed a pancake breakfast, were entertained by the Maranatha Players and dedicated quilts and food for the needy. Four Lutheran congregations noted for community service and fellowship were selected as models for a churchwide community renewal initiative, "Witness to God's Action in the World." They are Angelica, Los Angeles; Central Comunitario de La Sagrada Familia (Community Center of Holy Family Lutheran), Chicago; Colton, Colton, Ore.; and Holy Trinity, Baltimore.