The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


December 2001 Churchscan

• Time-honored tradition and recent world events — along with 20,000 audience members, 450 student musicians, six performances, five choirs, a full orchestra and a handbell choir — will combine for this year's 75th anniversary Concordia College Christmas Concert, "O Holy Night." The concert, a tradition that began in 1927, is marked this year with a mural by liturgical artist David Hetland. Measuring 168 feet wide and 20 feet high, it's the largest mural in the concert's history. One panel is dedicated to the Sept. 11 events. Hetland says it depicts Revelation's heavenly city joining the remains of the World Trade Center. Concerts will be held at the Moorhead, Minn., campus and in Minneapolis.

  • For the second year, Redeemer Lutheran Church, Park Ridge, Ill., anticipates Christmas worship visitors from nearby hotels and O'Hare Airport. The church will publicize Dec. 24 and 25 services at about 20 hotels, offering transportation and a warm welcome to those traveling through Chicago during the holidays. Last year at least 12 visitors attended Redeemer from O'Hare hotels, said Fred Nelson, pastor. "It's an opportunity to minister to people ... we're welcoming the stranger, " he said.

  • Harry Olson, psychologist and a member of Trinity Lutheran Church, Reisterstown, Md., worked as a critical incident counselor with various companies in New York in September. "I have held grown men while they cry for lost relatives, looked into eyes made hollow by loss and despair, felt the anger and rage of people whose lives are torn apart. Oh, the feelings of confusion and helplessness," he said. "Yet I have also witnessed a turn. I have seen people moved to a new sense of compassion and inner strength — stronger than before."

  • When Katie Nelson, a fourth-grader at Deephaven [Minn.] Elementary School and member of Edina [Minn.] Community Lutheran Church, and her friend Denae Nygren decided to raise funds for the victims in New York, they expected to collect a couple of hundred dollars. Their principal approved the project, thinking they'd raise $500. By time the local newspaper caught wind of the story, they'd raised $5,000. With contributions from other schools and the community, and matching funds from Aid Association for Lutherans and Lutheran Brotherhood, "Nickels for New York" grew to nearly $44,000. The girls talked on the phone the night of Sept. 11, and that's when their idea was born, inspired by a similar effort at the school called "Pennies for Patients." Within the first three days they had collected $2,000. Their mothers deposited the change, checks and bills in the bank daily until a check was sent to the American Red Cross.

  • This year, members of the adult choir from Christ Lutheran Church, Vernon Hills, Ill., had a brush with fame. They sang background vocals for a recording session with Rhythm and Blues artist Joe Simon. He coached the choir for six weeks in advance of the session. Simon evangelizes nationwide as bishop of the Consortium of Churches International but makes his church home at Christ, partly because of weekly communion. "The Lutherans were doing what I believed, taking communion every time they meet," he said. "Communion keeps our attention on the Resurrection ... the cross."

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