• Holden Village, Chelan, Wash., reopened Aug. 29 after guests and all but 13 staff were evacuated Aug. 15-16 when threatened by the area's Deep Harbor Fire, said a news release from the Lutheran retreat community. The fire that started in July was 12 miles away from the isolated, year-round village surrounded by the Glacier Peak Wilderness. Officials were concerned it could threaten the village's only access road, which links Holden with the community of Lucerne on Lake Chelan. About 270 people were evacuated from the village; the Red Cross set up an emergency shelter in Chelan and guests were provided refunds. Though the fire advisory was lowered a level, many hiking trails were expected to remain closed.
• Until the end of November, congregations can test and respond to Renewing Worship material, especially the newly proposed settings for communion. Congregations are encouraged to participate in the testing so responses to their experience with new liturgies can help shape decisions related to a new book of worship for the ELCA.
• Five former ELCA bishops in late August sent a letter to current bishops asking them to maintain the church's orthodox ethical norms for marriage and ordination. The five — Paull Spring, John Beem, Ralph Kempski, Kenneth Sauer and George Mocko — are members of Solid Rock Lutherans, a coalition that says its purpose is to uphold current standards and teaching on marriage and ordination. Citing examples of other denominations, the five said "to ordain practicing gay and lesbian people and to authorize blessings for such unions would effectively cut ourselves off from most of our ecumenical partners."
• Parishioners of Emmanuel Lutheran Church, High Point, N.C., gathered Aug. 8 with members of the local Sudanese community and others in the Triad Area (High Point, Winston-Salem and Greensboro) to pray for peace and justice in Sudan. Emmanuel member Joseph Agolory, a veterinarian from Sudan, helped organize the worship service. Local Sudanese and their advocates served as guest preachers and the Lost Boys Choir and the Sudanese Choir of the Triad sang. "We prayed that the government would break down the barriers erected to keep supplies out of the Darfur area, where an estimated 2 million Sudanese people are homeless, hungry and vulnerable," said Sue Gamelin, a pastor of Emmanuel. "One of the most memorable of those who cried 'Hallelujah!' repeatedly was a woman whose husband was killed in the civil war. Her joy in the Lord and her amazing hopefulness was a witness to us all."
• A funding crisis for Pittsburgh became the opportunity for creative ministry. Faced with the summer closing of all recreation centers, two congregations invited children to a day camp housed at Zion Lutheran Church's (Mount Washington) vacant building. For a week in July, campers met at either Bethlehem (Allentown) or Trinity (Mount Olive) Lutheran churches. They were then transported by a van offered by Trinity North Side to the Mount Washington site. Four counselors from Lutherlyn, an ELCA outdoor ministry in Prospect, Pa., led stories, worship, singing, games and crafts. The camp was funded by donations from parishioners, matching funds from Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, a gift from the Allentown Civic Association and an ELCA grant.
• If your name is Lois, this job is apparently for you. For more than 80 years the women of Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Minneapolis (41st and Lyndale), have hosted a free lunch every June for retired missionaries and those who have served on the mission field. Normally the duties fall to four women — Lois Dokken, Lois Nelson, Lois Bernhardson and Lois Helgeson. Gordon Olson, president of Lutheran Partners in Global Ministry, believes it may be the only effort of its kind by a congregation to recognize the missionaries. Certainly it's the only one staffed by four named Lois.
• Sunday, July 4, was anything but traditional at Christ Lutheran Church, Madisonville, Ky. Members held worship at West Kentucky Veterans' Home, five miles away. Forty-two veterans joined the service. Although many churches visit the home, this was the first time an entire Sunday morning service had come to them. Parishioners also collected care package items for troops in the Middle East. The veterans signed cards to be included in the packages, indicating their branch and years of service.
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