The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


ELCA campus, churches pick up the pieces

The 2,350 students of Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, Minn., were never so happy to return to classes after spring break. When a tornado ripped through town March 29 during their break, students weren't sure they'd be able to finish the year — a frightening prospect for those who graduate May 31. But, thanks to their community, volunteers and a hopeful spirit, school reopened April 20.

Among other things the tornado broke nearly 80 percent of all glass, damaged the roofs of many buildings, uprooted most trees, blew out the chapel windows and destroyed its spire. But the chapel's eternal flame remained lit — symbolizing the spirit that's present as rebuilding begins. "Our hopes and dreams were dimmed for only a moment," said President Axel D. Steuer. "We are moving forward, never more certain of the bright future for Gustavus."

Within days, busloads of volunteers — coordinated by Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota/Lutheran Disaster Response — flooded to the area in and around St. Peter, Comfrey, Lonsdale and Le Center, Minn. (see page 5).

ELCA Presiding Bishop H. George Anderson visited the area April 7. In St. Peter, Trinity Lutheran Church sustained hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage but is still open. First Lutheran Church, which the tornado spared, is providing worship space for the local Roman Catholic congregation. In Comfrey, the tornado heavily damaged — likely beyond repair — Faith and Salem Lutheran. They may combine if insurance adjusters declare both churches total losses. Member Louis Mosenden, 85, Lake Hanska Lutheran, died from tornado-caused injuries.

The recovery work is just beginning. But more than 500 graduating college seniors can continue their career plans as scheduled.


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February issue


Embracing diversity