• Korean Lutheran, Colorado Springs, Colo., is the ELCA's first organized Korean congregation. The church, which was received into the ELCA earlier this year, began in 1991 as the nondenominational Korean Church of Jesus Christ. The congregation became familiar with Lutheranism through Mount Calvary Lutheran Church, Colorado Springs, where the group met for worship until renting its own space in 1996. The Korean church's pastor, Hong Sik Lee, was ordained by the ELCA in 1994. Asian ministries represent a growing edge for the ELCA. Four more Korean churches are expected to organize in the next few years.
• Things snowballed when members of St. John Lutheran Church, Scribner, Neb., refocused the annual "Advent Evening in the Country" from worship to service. Last year the 150-member church dedicated the evening to making Christmas ornaments and collecting gifts and money for victims of the 1997 Red River flood in the Dakotas and Minnesota. The congregation made 800 ornaments, collected 40 boxes of gifts and raised $3,585 in relief.
• Reformation Lutheran Church, Culpeper, Va., opened a new chapter on ministry to kids when it began collecting donations of books for the town's schoolchildren. "So many children in the community don't have books at all, and reading at an early age is a proven success factor of how well they do in school," Anjanette Hodges, wife of Pastor Fred Hodges, told the Culpeper News. Not even through its first year, Reformation's "Book Closet" has already given away thousands of new and used books.
• Northeastern Ohio Synod congregations sprang to action when the Ohio River flooded its banks over the summer, causing damage in the millions and leaving thousands homeless. Goods donated from congregations all over the state were routed to "depot" churches in Cleveland, Doylestown and Canton, and then to St. Luke Lutheran Church, Marietta, for distribution to those hurt by the flood.
• The first Thanksgiving brought together people of different cultures, and so did last year's multilingual Thanksgiving Eve service at Lutheran Church of the Cross, Berkeley, Calif. Drawing on Cross's own Finnish ministry and the ethnic churches that share its building, worshipers heard songs and prayers in English, Finnish, Korean and Spanish. The $457 offering was donated to Berkeley Ecumenical Chaplaincy to the Homeless. Cross plans to repeat the service this year.
• For years Lutheran Chapel Church, China Grove, N.C., endured the inconvenience of worshiping near railroad tracks. The roar and whistle from passing trains have interrupted many a sermon, wedding and funeral. But Amtrak paid the congregation an unexpected honor when it used a photo of the church on the cover of its 1988 Travel Planner. The photo illustration shows an Amtrak liner cruising through a flower-strewn meadow, at the far side of which the church sits solidly.
• A 101-year-old church bell that has been silent for the last 50 decades will call people to worship again-at a church 1,500 miles from its home. The bell was new in 1897 when Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, Latrobe, Pa., was built. But it fell silent after its tower was struck by lightning in the late 1940s. Then in 1965, when the old church was demolished to make way for a new building, the bell was mounted on a brick pad outside the church. Is this any way to treat a church bell? The question gnawed at many. Then council member Bill Martin learned that Redeemer Lutheran Church, Bettendorf, Iowa, was looking for a bell. The council approved the donation. The bell's maker, VanDeusen Bell Foundry in Cincinnati, will refurbish the bell for its new use.
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