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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Churchscan

• More than 10,000 paperbacks were sent to troops in Iraq from 15 South-Central Synod of Wisconsin congregations in a drive spearheaded by Peter Fribley, a former Army chaplain, when he was interim pastor of Bonnet Prairie Lutheran Church, Rio. Libraries and a bookstore also donated books and postage. A label inside each book says: "Whoever you are reading this book, we pray for your safe return." Fribley receives many e-mails of thanks, such as: "I don't know if I'll like the book or not ... it doesn't really matter. What matters is that your message of prayers being offered for 'whoever is reading this book' is at once inspiring and comforting."

• When Maj. John Hugus, Army chaplain in Kuwait, passed out phone calling cards to soldiers, one told him, "It's like winning the lottery to be able to call home!" Hugus had passed out 257 by late June, purchased with more than $1,100 collected by his home congregation, St. Matthew Lutheran, Jacksonville, Fla., in a project of the Bible study group. Hugus gives the cards to troops who go through his base on their way to Iraq.

• Strength for Service to God and Country first went to war in 1942, when the daily devotion was distributed to more than 1 million troops during World War II and later, the Korean conflict. Newly revised, the book is being given to troops again, says Harold W. Yost, executive director of the North Carolina Synod's Lutheran Men in Mission, which has bought more than 4,300 copies to distribute to military personnel in Iraq and at bases in the States. One chaplain told Yost: "We could use as many as you could send. There is a spiritual hunger in the air."

•Two Pennsylvania Lutheran churches — St. John of the Cross, Dravosburg, and Holy Spirit, Clairton — sent nearly a half-ton of hygiene supplies, snacks and reading materials to military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan through "Operation Care Package." Their pastor, Kim Rapczak, suggested the project after her niece's husband, an Army reservist, was called for active duty in Iraq. The congregations also sent 100 pounds of supplies for Iraqi schoolchildren to Lewis Messinger, an ELCA Army chaplain stationed in Iraq. He distributed the items to children who didn't even have a tablet and pencil for school.

• A former Reading, Pa., pastor apologized in Berks County Court May 21 before he was sentenced to five to 20 years in state prison for raping three girls several times from 1995 to 2002, sometimes in the church office (November 2002, page 38). Cesar Segura, former pastor of the Spanish-speaking Cristo Rendentor congregation at St. Mark Lutheran in Reading, will be required under Megan's Law to register his whereabouts for the rest of his life.


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