The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Crosses for New York

After the Sept. 11 tragedy, "our schoolchildren wrapped the trees with crosses rather than yellow ribbons," said Bruce Modahl, pastor of Grace Lutheran Church and School, River Forest, Ill. Their response wasn't limited to the trees of River Forest. Thanks to Grace, an independent Lutheran congregation, Lutheran schools and congregations in New York have received more than $100,000 in aid.

Grace decided to raise money soon after Sept. 11. Although some members gave sizable contributions, the bulk came from congregation and school chapel offerings, said Modahl, an ELCA pastor. Schoolchildren also wrote letters to area police and firefighters, and the kindergarten class created American flags with red-handprint stripes that were sold for $1 each. In all, Grace collected more than $53,000, which was matched by Aid Association for Lutherans and applied directly to relief efforts.

Grace has close ties to Stephen Bouman, bishop of the Metropolitan New York Synod. He is a son of the congregation, and his parents and two brothers are still active members. As a result, the congregation and school asked Bouman to distribute the funds. They received word that their gift "jump-started [the church's] ability to offer the kind of support that's so necessary," Modahl said.


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