The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America



Lutheran Laity Movement for Stewardship, a self-supporting membership organization within the ELCA, ended operations May 31. Based at the churchwide offices in Chicago, the decision resulted in the loss of two full-time staff and 10 deployed staff. Joyce B. Cain, executive director, said reasons for closure include the group’s declining membership, increased operational costs and fewer congregational fund-raising campaigns since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The organization was founded in 1907.

• A former ELCA pastor was sentenced in February to 397 years in prison for molesting boys, according to the Columbus [Ohio] Dispatch. Gerald Patrick Thomas Jr., 41, was convicted on 11 counts involving child pornography and sexual abuse of minors in Marshall, Texas. Trinity Lutheran Seminary, Columbus, and others named in a pending lawsuit have consistently denied any wrongdoing in the case (June 2002, page 18).

• Sold: pipe organ, played once a week. Two years ago the Chicago Sun-Times published a story about Grace Lutheran Church’s attempt to sell its organ (The Lutheran, July 2001, page 30). The Aurora, Ill., congregation had hoped to sell its pipe organ for $200,000 to help keep its church running. The story attracted national, even international, attention. A California church bought the organ in April for $80,000.

• The California Lutheran Homes’ Center for Spirituality and Ethics in Aging, Burbank, received the 2003 Lutheran Services in America Award for Excellence. The center’s spiritual care project was recognized for teaching staff members of long-term care communities how to attend to spiritual needs, as well as physical needs of the elderly, to enhance healing, reduce suffering and enlighten the journey of aging.

• When a retired medical doctor from Ejeda Hospital in Madagascar spoke at their mission festival last fall, members of Little Norway Lutheran Church, Fertile, Minn., learned of the need for a replacement tractor. Phone contacts were made in the area and a clean diesel 3010 John Deere was located. The congregation took out a loan to fund the tractor. After servicing and a new battery, the tractor and other supplies (including extra oil, filters, a tool chest and an operator’s manual) were loaded in a Global Health Ministries (Minneapolis) freight container to be shipped to Madagascar.

• When a neighboring mosque’s window was broken in March, the confirmation class of St. Paul Lutheran Church, Villa Park, Ill., moved into action. They collected $335 from the congregation one Sunday to help replace the $500 window. And 300 members signed a letter the youth circulated stating how sorry they were for the damage and showing their support for the mosque.

• By July 1 two Nebraska-based developmental disability service providers — Martin Luther Homes and Bethphage Mission of the Great Plains — will merge. Funding issues played a large role in the decision to consolidate, said David Drye, communications director for Martin Luther Homes. The new organization will operate facilities in 15 states and two foreign countries, employ 5,700 people and have 3,800 clients. A new name, Mosaic, was chosen.

• More than 11,000 churches, schools, businesses and organizations raised $3,309,448 for the Souper Bowl of Caring, exceeding previous years’ totals. A computer virus hampered the reporting Super Bowl weekend, when the event occurs. But reports continue to come in to the group’s headquarters in Columbia, S.C. The ecumenical effort encourages congregations to collect dollars from worshipers on Super Bowl Sunday for local charities.


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