• Northwest Synod of Wisconsin Bishop Robert Berg is "on the road," talking to children about other children. He hopes to visit 100 congregations, taking along a poster of The Lutheran's May 2003 cover to help tell the story about hungry children in Malawi. During the children's sermon, Berg gives each child a quarter to hold until offering time, when he invites them to put it in a large piggy bank. "I suggest strongly," he tells the congregation, "that no one leave the building with change in their pockets. And of course, bills are welcome." The synod is a companion to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Malawi and hosted its bishop, Joseph Bvumbwe, in 2001-02. Two-thirds of this year's synod assembly offering for World Hunger will go to Malawi.
• It started back in Cheryl Kulas' college days, when students brought their "already-read-books and fondue pots to the church and exchanged them for other books and the towel or toaster we needed. No one knew whose was what; it was just a free garage sale." Some 20 years and many Unsales later, the same thing is happening at Kent [Wash.] Lutheran Church, where Kulas is director of cross-cultural ministries. "I love the look on people's faces when they come and shop for free," she says of the biannual Unsale. "Sold" signs appear on items customers set aside even though no money is exchanged. More than 100 people were in line window-shopping before they opened the doors this year Oct. 25.
• Works published by Augsburg Fortress, Publishers, were honored with 2003 Theologos Awards from the Association of Theological Booksellers Nov. 21. N.T. Wright's The Resurrection of the Son of God was named Book of the Year and Best Academic Book. God Created, written by Mark Francisco Bozzuti-Jones and illustrated by Jui Ishida, was named Best Children's Book. The association also named Augsburg Fortress "Publisher of the Year."
• A Texas historical marker was dedicated at First Evangelical Lutheran Church, Houston. It was established as First German Evangelical Lutheran Church in 1851. The church building, designed by J.W. Northrup Jr., has been honored by architects as a perfect example of Lombard Romanesque style of architecture.
• Spirit of Joy Lutheran, Ramona, Calif., is one of the churches where Lutheran Disaster Response set up offices as it continues to help survivors of the Southern California wildfires. About $100,000 in grants assist the elderly, poor, unemployed and children. Camp Noah for children traumatized by disasters and support for pastors are planned.
• Lutheran Disaster Response continues to assist victims of flooding in southern Texas. The first flood was in 2002, and since then a tornado and Hurricane Claudette have hit the area. Gil Furst, director for ELCA Domestic Disaster Response, says the damage is in areas of poverty that are generally overlooked by the media. Many people are without insurance.
• People say the power of prayer can move mountains. Apparently, it can move houses as well. The high cost of living meant that paying rent for Richard Foster, pastor of University Lutheran, Palo Alto, Calif., required nearly one-quarter of the congregation's operating budget. But parishioner Duane Bay spotted in the newspaper that a local couple, Claudia and Charley Geoly, were willing to donate their four-bedroom, three-bath home to a nonprofit organization. After months of planning, last September the home was divided into four sections and moved several miles to its new location. The house will also be used for meetings and other church activities.
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