The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


His smile is still here

I wish Joel Albers' wisdom for every pastor and congregation

"God is good ... all the time." Those words grace a 15-foot mural at Alleluia! Lutheran Church, Naperville, Ill. A small boy stands at the center of the painting. His left sock hangs low and rumpled. The tail of his T-shirt dangles out of his shorts. He looks at a glistening night sky where an explosive light bursts from God's open hands. If we could see the boy's face, his mouth would surely hang open in wonder.

The mural is a fitting memorial to Joel Albers, who served as the congregation's youth and family pastor for 13 months. Joel was killed Sept. 30, 1998, in a car collision on a notoriously winding stretch of highway east of Galena, Ill. He was 28. He left his family and friends gasping for breath at the loss of one of such brilliant promise.

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