• The Northwest Lutheran Choir gives Pacific Lutheran University alumni and others the chance to reunite and sing. Their first concert was in October. Another gathering will be Jan. 28-Feb. 1. The choir event is held three times a year. The first three evenings are spent in intense rehearsal, followed by Saturday night and Sunday afternoon concerts. Funds raised benefit the Maurice and Patricia Skones Vocal Scholarship Fund at the Tacoma, Wash., university. text
• This fall Mount Olivet Lutheran Church, Plymouth, Minn., launched the Faith and Life lecture series for the community. The lectures feature prominent people discussing how their faith intersects with their everyday life. Tim Westermeyer, a pastor of Mount Olivet, says the church has been creative in securing financing so lectures are free. Minnesota Public Radio and four corporations owned by Mount Olivet parishioners are sponsors. To make the series even more accessible, lectures are held in public locations such as a community center and a golf-course banquet room.
• Twenty-six Lutheran congregations, more than half of them ELCA, will receive an average of $3,800 in Good Samaritan grants in 2003 for such things as classes in computer skills, English as a second language and art. The Good Samaritan Fund offers grants to congregations developing services to immigrants, asylum-seekers or refugees. Congregations must contribute 25 percent of the cost. The committee that announces the grants is made up of representatives from Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, Baltimore, and Wheat Ridge Ministries, Itasca, Ill. For information about 2004 applications, visit www.wheatridge.org or call LIRS at (701) 298-0288.
• A bunch of guys in the New England Synod care so much about hunger they recorded a CD to raise money for it. A Bunch of Guys, the group's name, has raised nearly $30,000 for the ELCA World Hunger Appeal since May. David Piper and Knute Ogren, both on staff at Emanuel Lutheran Church, Hartford, Conn., were discussing how to educate and motivate young people about hunger issues. They called together others they'd known while on staff at Camp Calumet, an ELCA outdoor ministries site near Freedom, N.H., and recorded Take a Breath (www.takeabreath.org), named to remind us that every time we take a breath, someone dies of starvation, Piper says. Every penny goes to the hunger program and, as they remind people on the copyright, "unauthorized reproduction of this CD doesn't provide food for anybody."
• The St. Olaf College band will take more than good will and great music to Mexico in January. Students at the Northfield, Minn., ELCA college will also bring 100 donated instruments to San Miguel Tzinacapan, population 3,000. The instruments don't come without instruction. Recent graduates Reid Wixson, Rachel Widen and Aubrey Vikturek will offer four months of musical instruction to the new band members.
• The Tuesday Threaders, the women's sewing group of Grace Lutheran Church, Chesapeake, Va., did their part to aid service people in Iraq by sending more than 300 cool ties. The 2-by-45-inch ties can be tied around the neck like a bandanna. Each contains crystals, which, when soaked in water, swell to fill the tie and provide cooling relief all day in a place where temperatures reach 120 degrees or more. "My soldiers are wearing them nonstop ... it is like getting a hug from home," an officer wrote.
• Adeline Meldahl and her congregation, Finley [N.D.] Lutheran, have something in common. They're both 100 and celebrated together this summer. Thirty-one people founded the church in July 1903, including infant Adeline. She was one of the first to be baptized, confirmed and married at Finley, and retains her membership there although she lives with son Steve in Fargo, N.D.
• Nearly a decade ago, The Declaration of the ELCA to the Jewish Community was adopted. In Great Falls, Mont., that declaration is being lived out in a practical way. After Sept. 11, security became too tight at a nearby military base where a Jewish community gathered, so the congregation now worships at Bethel Lutheran twice a month and on Jewish holidays. But this is just one new aspect to the Lutheran-Jewish relations in Great Falls. Five years ago Bethel hosted a Holocaust photography exhibit and discussion and the two congregations have invited one another to worship.
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