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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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'Assignment of a lifetime'

Attorney Dayton Soby, Minneapolis, spent a week in Jerusalem last October advising the Lutheran World Federation on Augusta Victoria Hospital's future. "It was the most fascinating week of my entire life," says Soby, who is vice chair of Fairview Hospital's board and a member of Calvary Lutheran Church, Golden Valley.

"When this property lawyer from Minneapolis found himself working on top of the Mount of Olives," Soby says, "it was hard to believe I was there." He calls it the assignment of a lifetime--"even though not one moment of the week was billable time."

"The crisis for Augusta Victoria is dominated by the complexities of international politics, rapid changes in health economics and the interplay of three major world faiths," Soby says. His report, developed with Dr. Rainward Bastian, a German medical mission expert, calls for the hospital to meet specific Palestinian health needs, secure non-church funding and acquire new management. If it must eventually close, the report concludes, a worthy mission has been accomplished--meeting critical needs of the Palestinian people for nearly 50 years.

Soby and Bastian argue strongly for a continuing Lutheran presence on the Mount of Olives. They affirm LWF plans for a place of ecumenical and interfaith hospitality and encounter. "We need to find out what God is next calling us to in that unique place," Soby says, "and then try our best to do it.


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