About 250 ELCA and Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod members gathered in Baltimore to break ground for a Lutheran Center. The five-story building, scheduled for completion next year, will house offices for Lutheran World Relief, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, Tressler Lutheran Services, the ELCA Delaware-Maryland Synod and the Eastern Region Office of the LCMS Foundation. A golf outing, Lutherans on the Links, raised more than $25,000 for Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota and Skyway Connection. The skyway program is operated by Central Lutheran Church, Minneapolis, and provides a downtown space for workers, residents and visitors to meet with a pastor, discuss common concerns or enjoy some quiet time (see September, page 31).
Fred Phelps Jr., son of a Topeka, Kan., Baptist pastor, brought his father's crusade against homosexuality to Minnesota by picketing five Minneapolis churches that welcome gays and lesbians, including Central Lutheran Church. While protesters stood outside services holding signs with derogatory remarks on them, Dennis Griffin, pastor of Central, said to the congregation, "We'd like to ignore them because that's what they so richly deserve." One downtown counter-protester carried a sign saying, "Rev. Phelps, we'd like to convert you to Christianity." The Lutheran Brotherhood Survivors, a 55-and-over basketball team, took the gold medal at the World Masters Games in Portland, Ore. More than 10,000 senior athletes participated in the event, which is held every four years.