• Second-degree rape charges against two Seattle 16-year-olds were dropped. Two girls maintain they were raped during an ELCA-sponsored conference in July held at Trinity Lutheran College, Issaquah, Wash., but other teens cast doubt on their allegations, said an attorney for one of the boys (September 2003, page 31). A spokesperson for the prosecutor's office told the Seattle Post-Intelligence "new information surfaced and we felt we could no longer prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt." Charges against a third boy, a 17-year-old, were dropped when his accuser recanted.
• On Halloween night, assailants threw eggs and stones at Salam Arabic Lutheran Church, damaging its renovated front entrance. Khader El-Yateem, pastor, called police to report the attack, but no one came to investigate. Salam, which serves the Arab and Middle Eastern community in Brooklyn, N.Y., was the only church in the Bay Ridge area to be attacked, said El-Yateem, who called it a hate crime.
• Sonja Tillberg, pastor of Christ Lutheran Church, Woodstock, N.Y., had more than one agenda when she laced up her sneakers before the New York Marathon Nov. 2. One was to convince others that "there are things each of us can do to reach out and minister — even if they involve our hobbies." Tillberg ran to raise money ($2,500 so far) for Lutheran ministries in Tanzania. She also helped lead worship at the starting line with other clergy runners from other denominations, cities and countries. "It truly was a gathering of 'all nations,' " she said. "My legs got horrible cramps, and as I was shuffling through Central Park in excruciating pain with crowds cheering around me, I thought of the cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12) and thought, 'Hmmm. I wonder if this is what death is like?!' "
• Waldorf College, Forest City, Iowa, received its largest gift ever — $4.5 million from the John K. and Luise V. Hanson Foundation — at its centennial celebration in October. The gift will fund a facility housing a library, classrooms, study areas and a coffeehouse. Construction will begin this spring or summer.
• Ever wonder what to do with leftover Bible school, Sunday school or youth group T-shirts? Gethsemane Lutheran Church, St. Louis, sent theirs to Malawi with member Mark Manary, a doctor who spends several months there each year. Earlier in 2003, members cleaned out a closet and found years of T-shirts. Manary said children at feeding centers in Malawi were thrilled with the shirts.
• More than 100 phone calls were received after a tip line was established to search for the driver who killed a pastor in Madison, Wis., Oct. 29. A hit-and-run driver struck Susan Quigley, 47, pastor of Faith Lutheran Church, Columbus, Wis., as she crossed a street on Madison's north side. There have been no arrests.
• The ELCA campus ministry at the University of Florida, Gainesville, lost a student to drowning Oct. 25 during an annual retreat to Vilano Beach in St. Augustine, Fla. Kiran Kumar Kandra, 24, was active in campus ministry and a member of North Parish Lutheran Church in Guntur, India. "Kiran was such a peaceful spirit in our midst, who brought a simple happiness and joy," said Michael Collins, campus pastor. Only hours before the accident, the 26 students and adult leaders shared communion and studied Scripture.
• For more than 30 years, Christmas Day worshipers at Our Lord Lutheran, Maryville, Ill., have walked across the church parking lot to distribute gifts to residents of the Elmwood Care Center. This year their "Christmas with our neighbors" program has even more meaning. On Nov. 6 a three-alarm fire broke out at the nursing home, and everyone from the church staff to faculty and students from the nearby Roman Catholic school helped evacuate occupants. The youth group president opened the pop machine for firefighters, nursing home staff and residents. The church ordered pizza, and the food service at the Catholic school sent bread and snacks. Volunteers helped feed residents in the church's fellowship hall and narthex, now filled with wheelchairs, oxygen, medical supplies and records.
© 2014 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers