* Zion Lutheran Church, Gowrie, Iowa, received the 1997 ELCA Disability
Award. Zion added an elevator, uses large-print materials and has an
amplification system. Dennis Busse, former ELCA director of disability
ministries, presented the $1,000 award provided by the National
Organization on Disability and J.C. Penney. "All our ELCA congregations
will truly be places of welcome for people with disabilities when they,
like you, have church council members, Sunday School students and
Sunday School superintendents and youth group members who `happen' to
have disabilities," Busse said.
* The Lutheran Book of Worship wasn't prepared with children in mind. But now youth at St. Paul Lutheran Church, Davenport, Iowa, have a version designed just for them. Member Martha Wells created colorfully bound booklets that invite young readers to be a part of the liturgy on their reading level. The reformatted version was printed with permission from Augsburg Fortress, Publishers.
* First Lutheran Church, Pittsburgh, gets back to its German roots each December by celebrating Christvesper, a Christmas service with lessons, carols and a sermon presented entirely in German.
* The children of Grace Lutheran Church, East Palestine, Ohio, who wished they could have lived 2,000 years ago to give presents to baby Jesus, now can give in his honor. The Gifts for Baby Jesus program invites members to donate items for babies whose mothers seek safety from abuse at a local shelter.
* Unity Lutheran Church, Menno, S.D., moved — literally. The church, built in 1923, was donated to the Menno Pioneer Heritage Association and moved 14 miles by truck to the association's Power Show grounds. After 107 years, Unity held its final worship service as a congregation before the move.
* The Advent worship and workshop class of Good Shepherd Lutheran, Valley Station, Ky., created a stained-glass window for the congregation. During the weeks before Christmas the group held worship services followed by preparing a four-paneled window depicting aspects of Jesus as the light of the world. The gift was presented on Christmas Eve 1996.
* Angelica Lutheran, Los Angeles, a congregation struggling to make ends meet, had a minor miracle thanks to the ABC TV show Nothing Sacred. Angelica was chosen as the site for the show's Roman Catholic church, and the congregation receives $3,000 each time the show films at the church. Carlos Paiva, pastor of Angelica, said the money is sued to outreach programs that serve the nearby Latino community.
* Members of First Lutheran Church, Mesa, Ariz., created the "Tree of Life," a version of the popular "Angel Tree." The plywood tree is hung with wooden ornaments cut in the shape of tools that represent gifts to the ELCA Hunger Appeal. Members take an ornament off the tree, bring it home, pray about the ministry it represents and give a financial gift. For example, an ornament shaped like a well indicates that a $60 gift is enough to provide a well in India or a seed bag says, "$3 buys garden seeds for a family in Peru."
© 2014 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers