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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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October 2001 Churchscan

  • • Cleanup continues in the West Virginia-Virginia area where flooding from severe storms in July washed out bridges and roads and contaminated water systems. Two people died, nearly 500 homes were destroyed and more than 5,000 homes were damaged. After touring the area, Bishop Ralph Dunkin, West Virginia-Western Maryland Synod, said he was surprised by the extensive damage — the flood covered 24 counties. "Several of the areas have been flooded four times (and) the worst of the floods have been in the hallows of this extremely mountainous area," he said. Gil Furst, director for ELCA Domestic Disaster Response and Lutheran Disaster Response, said, "This isn't a `Lutheran' disaster. Few Lutherans have been impacted. It is a `poor people's' disaster." The ELCA Domestic Disaster Response provided a $5,000 grant to Immanuel Lutheran Church, Bluefield, W.Va., and the community to help meet immediate needs. "Recovery has been slow, but we've kind of gotten through the first stage," said Meredith Patrick Williams, pastor of Immanuel. "But as we see rebirth in some areas, we are reminded of the hope of the resurrection." Williams said money has been used for clean up supplies and to replace household goods for those affected back in the coalfield communities.

  • • The parents of Robert Furler, 44, a Lutheran pastor, absolved the state trooper who fired the shot that killed their son July 4. "Tell the trooper we've forgiven him completely," said Ella Furler after a memorial service at St. Paul Lutheran Church, Allentown, Pa. "We hold no animosity toward the police." The service drew 600 mourners, but Furler's wife, Susan, and his three children did not attend. A condolence letter from Bishop David Strobel, Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod, was read during the service. Furler, ordained 14 years ago, had severed his relationship with the ELCA. He was shot when he pointed a shotgun at police outside his home after a daylong confrontation.

  • • Twenty ELCA ministry projects were awarded grants totaling $443,300 from Lutheran Brotherhood and Aid Association for Lutherans. The Commission for Multicultural Ministries received several grants, including funds for a workshop called "From White Privilege to Partnership"; a family summer camp for American Indian and Alaska Native families; a program to develop Latino youth leaders; and a working group to address causes of conflict in Asian congregations. Other recipients include the Division for Outreach to study congregational intervention, the Division for Church in Society for a congregational-based organizing summit and the Department for Research and Evaluation and Division for Congregational Ministries to research findings on congregational life characteristics.

  • • Two congregations in Lindsborg, Kan., have for the last 10 years found a way to combine sport and charity. Bethany and Messiah Evangelical Lutheran churches each organize a golf team of about 30 members for their "Church Challenge." Competitors pay an entry fee, which has been donated to Bethany College, Lindsborg, Kan.; the World Hunger Appeal; Camp Tomah Shinga, Junction City, Kan.; and North Dakota flood relief. Participants must adhere to what has become known as the "no pray, no play" rule — they must attend worship that morning to compete.

  • • Usually pilgrims come to them, but the brothers from the Taize community in France will take a pilgrimage in October — to Minnesota. They will lead prayer, Bible study and workshops, thanks to more than 15 sponsors, including the Minneapolis Area and St. Paul synods. After a retreat at Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, Oct. 12-14, they'll visit Bethel College, St. Paul, on Oct. 14; St. John's University, Collegeville, St. Cloud State University and College of St. Benedict, St. Joseph, Oct. 15-17; Luther Seminary, St. Paul, and the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, on Oct. 18; Bethel College and the Basilica of St. Mary, Minneapolis, Oct. 19; and Augsburg College, Minneapolis, and the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Oct. 20. For more information call (612) 861-4777 or (651) 290-1625.

  • • Lutheran Church of the Palms, Palm Harbor, Fla., celebrated Christmas in July by inviting members to donate school supplies that were placed under a Christmas tree. Donations were distributed through Religious Community Services to children living in area homeless shelters.

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