• Several opponents of Called to Common Mission appealed to every ELCA congregation, seminary, Church Council member, synod bishop and churchwide unit director for support. The letter, signed by Gerhard Forde and James Nestigen, faculty at Luther Seminary, St. Paul., Minn., takes issue with CCM — the full-communion agreement with the Episcopal Church passed at Churchwide Assembly — and the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification signed last fall with the Roman Catholic Church. Opponents assert the documents precipitated "a grave confessional crisis" because they stray from traditional Lutheran beliefs. The letter came at the urging of two Minnesota pastors, Randy Freund of Faith Lutheran, Hutchinson, and Mark Richardson of Abiding Savior, Mounds View, whose churches covered the $3,000 cost of mailing. "What we need now is a return to the confessional teaching and practice of our church so we know where we stand in times of peril," the letter states, suggesting "confessional congresses to study these matters."
• During a two-week visit, Lutheran youth from Bavaria, Germany, who had been yearlong pen pals and e-mail pals with Pennsylvania youth of the Upper Susquehanna Synod, met the faces behind the correspondence. The youth stayed with host families for a week and spent a week at Camp Mount Luther, Mifflinburg, Pa. While here they toured Washington, D.C., and other popular sites.
• Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Bakersfield, Calif., puts people over property. When health insurance refused to authorize a life-saving $150,000 bone-marrow transplant for Roxan Wynn, a two-year member of Emmanuel, the congregation put a building project on hold and earmarked $100,000 for the operation. Others in the Bakersfield community contributed the balance for the operation, which was a success. "You are a blessing from God to me," Wynn told the church in a thank-you letter.
• For the fourth year running, The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education selected California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks, as one of the best schools for Hispanics in the United States. In its Nov. 19 issue, the publication listed its "Publisher's Picks" of schools that "are learning what it takes to attract, enable, retain and motivate Hispanic students."
• Hundreds of ELCA congregations and organizations work on projects for Habitat for Humanity. Our Saviour Lutheran Church, Tucson, Ariz., did so with Jewish and Muslim congregations. The church partnered with Congregation Ohr Chadish and Congregation Chaverim (both Jewish) and ICS Mosque (Muslim) to build a house in Tucson.
• Lutherans and Episcopalians concerned with corporate social responsibility met for the first time at the denominational level to share notes and discuss topics of mutual concern. "There was a synergy here that was extraordinary," said Robert Holland, chair of the ELCA advisory committee for social responsibility. The meeting was so productive they scheduled another for Sept. 15 in New York, which coincides with a gathering of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, a group of 275 religious organizations, including the ELCA and the Episcopal Church.
• Playing in the Light: Our Changing Faith, a TV documentary the ELCA helped produce, won a bronze award in the Television and Cable Production Awards, Religious Programs, category at the Worldfest — Flagstaff film festival. The program featured members of "the post-modern generations" discussing their faith, social issues, fears and hopes for the future. ELCA producers and those of United Church of Canada, on behalf of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., created Playing in the Light. It was offered to NBC-TV affiliate stations.
© 2014 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers