* Nearly 800 worshipers from a dozen churches, including St. Luke Lutheran, Summerville, S.C., joined for an ecumenical outdoor Blessing of the Palms service. Following the service, a crucifer and banner-bearer from St. Luke led a procession back to the houses of worship for Palm Sunday worship.
* Michael Lemke, an ELCA pastor, was looking for a call. Madison Roads Presbyterian Church, Toney, Ala., was looking for a pastor. They worked something out, thanks to the 1997 Formula of Agreement between the ELCA and Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), which allows for clergy exchange and closer mission ties. Lemke is one of the first to work cross-denominationally. "We think it's a witness to our unity in Christ," said Southeastern Synod Bishop Ron Warren.
* Trinity Lutheran Seminary, Columbus, Ohio, received a bequest for more than $1.2 million, the largest cash gift the school has received. The gift, from the estate of Mildred Streit Butler of Cincinnati, will establish an endowment fund that awards full-cost scholarships to exceptional Trinity students. It will also provide the seminary regular income to keep overall costs low for students.
* Working as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Cape Verde Islands, Jaime Staraitis was struck by the need for books in her village. A 1998 graduate of Augustana College, Rock Island, Ill., she asked associates at her alma mater for help. In response, Augustana's library, students and faculty collected 14 boxes worth — from children's books to Bibles — and shipped them to the islands, off Senegal.
* The Oromo Evangelical Lutheran Church, Minneapolis, held a celebration service to mark 100 years that the Bible has been translated into the language of the Oromo, 35 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya and around the world. About 10,000 Oromo live in Minnesota.
* Quarters laid side by side stretched from the altar of Antioch Lutheran Church, Hoagland, Ind., out to the narthex and back again. The 1,718 quarters were donated to create the 143-foot-long "Trail of Caring" to benefit the ELCA World Hunger Appeal on its 25th Anniversary.
* Faith Lutheran Church, Windham, Maine, can't afford a full-time pastor and averages 50 worshipers a Sunday, but its members raised $2,100 to benefit local food pantries. The church sponsored suppers to raise the money, $500 of which was matched by Aid Association for Lutherans.
* Wartburg Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa, hosted "Mission in Ecumenical View," a conference to explore possibilities created by Called to Common Mission, the Lutheran proposal for full communion with the Episcopal Church. The conference featured Lutheran and Episcopal clerics and speakers.
* Two small California congregations, Peace Lutheran, San Bruno, and Our Redeemer Lutheran, South San Francisco, collaborated on a "Spring Thing" carnival that not only provided family fun but also raised money for a cause. Including contributions from Lutheran Brotherhood and Aid Association for Lutherans, the event raised $5167 for Catholic Worker Hospitality House in San Bruno.
© 2013 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers