• When a family of four was murdered in the Chatham neighborhood of Chicago in January, Cheryl Pero, pastor of St. James Lutheran, invited neighbors to gather at the church for support. She thought a few dozen might show up but was stunned when more than 100 filled the community room. "It was a good time to gather together and say, 'How do we handle the craziness in our world?' " Pero told the Chicago Tribune.
• When the girls and staff of New Life Children's Residential Treatment Center, Canyon Lake, Texas, moved back onto their campus in December, it was a Christmas wish come true. They were evacuated last July when the Canyon Dam went over the spillway for the first time in its 38-year history (September, page 52). This Lutheran Social Services of the South facility sustained $2 million in property and operating losses, but 5,800 hours of volunteer work and $1.2 million in donations made the move possible--three months ahead of schedule. The 39 girls were welcomed to the campus with donated Christmas presents, clothes and rooms decorated for Christmas.
• The students of Syracuse [N.Y.] University's Lutheran Campus Ministry who transformed a little-used room at First English Lutheran Church, Syracuse, into a community computer lab (February, page 30) were named Unsung Heroes in January. The award, given by the university's Martin Luther King Jr. celebration committee, recognizes the work of Robert Mervine, Britt Faulstick, Andrea Manseau, Kristen Olson, Megan Vincent, Justin Huffman, Kathy Weber and Brian Rebuck on the computer lab and other community service efforts.
• Bibles were put into the hands of six men in each of 975 congregations in January, thanks to the efforts of Lutheran Men in Mission. Fifteen congregations in each of the 65 synods were identified as recipients, with priority given to new and developing missions, said Doug Haugen, LMM director. It's hoped that the men will use the Bibles, which include a leader supplement and discussion questions, to start a men's ministry in their congregation, he said.
• In January, the first 20 residents moved into Beth Anne Place, a new facility of Bethel New Life Inc., a faith-based community development corporation started by Bethel Lutheran Church on Chicago's West Side. The rehabbed 85-unit wing provides affordable assisted living for seniors with limited income. Although they also have kitchens in their apartments, residents will receive three meals a day. An activity program, weekly housekeeping and laundry, and on-call nursing staff are provided too. Bethel New Life recently received the Governor's Tomorrow Award for Balance Growth for adaptive reuse of the former St. Anne's hospital campus.
• Augsburg College and the Youth and Family Institute (formerly of Augsburg College), Minneapolis, reached an agreement that supports the institute's independent operation and the college's academic major in youth and family ministry. The four institute colleagues, including director Dick Hardel, resigned from their affiliation with the college in December (January, page 40). The institute, which moved from the college to Bloomington, Minn., will continue to publish the FaithLife in the Home Resource Guide, lead peer ministry training and conduct Child In Our Hands conferences. The institute also formed a partnership with Concordia, a Lutheran ChurchMissouri Synod university in St. Paul, Minn., to equip church leaders and strengthen families' faith.
• The theme at St. Stephen Lutheran Church, Woodbury, N.J., has been "Take a Leap of Faith." In 2000, Lutheran Social Services of New Jersey in Trenton, asked the congregation to sponsor a refugee family from Croatia. The family selected is now saving to buy a house. Last summer, parishioners took a new leap of faith by sponsoring a second family, this time from Bosnia. The first family purchased food for the newcomers. Church announcements made for specific needs were always successful. But one need remained. When picking up furniture donations at Holy Nativity Lutheran Church, Wenonah, N.J., St. Stephen members were asked if any needs remained unfulfilled. Well, a raincoat. The woman who had asked took off her coat and gave it to the refugee mother. "Here," she said. "I have another one at home." A leap of faith, indeed.
© 2016 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers