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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Vital transplants

Donated organs bring back the music

Hate and anger may have temporarily silenced the music in sanctuaries of the more than 100 Southern churches that have been burned since 1995. But thanks to Trinity Lutheran Church and Wesley Temple A.M.E. Zion Church, Akron, Ohio, the songs are back.

The congregations have helped find 117 organs for donation and have raised more than $200,000 as part of their Rebuild Burned Church Campaign.

The donations began after an announcement in a local newspaper last June read, "Burned out church seeks organ donor." Within a few days, 27 people had contacted Trinity to donate an organ.

In September some 200 members of Trinity and Wesley marched around a moving truck full of 18 organs bound for Charleston, S.C., singing We're Marching to Zion. Transportation for the rest of the organs is being arranged by the National Council of Churches.

"I could not be more excited and overwhelmed about the generosity of the members of the Akron community," said Byron Arledge, director of caring ministries at Trinity and organizer of the organ drive.

The two congregations received the Racial Justice and Domestic Tranquillity Partners in Achievement Award from the NCC for its work.

Arledge said the donation drive will continue until every church that was burned has a replacement organ.


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