• The food pantry of Christ Lutheran, Richmond, Va., had to move to a new location because it outgrew the church building. The Lamb's Basket, founded 14 years ago, now serves 800 people a month, instead of 80. Staffed by volunteers, the pantry has 11 churches represented on its board. The growth is due to a request two years ago from the county to help with emergency situations.
•Lutheran Disaster Response, a cooperative ministry of the ELCA and the Lutheran ChurchMissouri Synod, in June responded to severe flooding in northern Minnesota, especially affecting the communities of Roseau and Warroad. "It looks like Grand Forks in '97," said Melanie Josephson, LDR-MN disaster coordinator. "Many of the roads are washed out or are still under water. Hundreds have water in basements and into the main floor."
•Swedish watercolor artist Johan Thunberg in April presented his new painting of Sweden's historic Oslättfors Chapel to the Andover [Ill.] Historical Society. The Oslättfors Chapel was a pattern for Andover's Jenny Lind Chapel, constructed in 1851 with funds from the famous "Swedish Nightingale," Jenny Lind. The chapel is known as the cradle of the Augustana Synod and Augustana College, Rock Island, Ill.
•Folks at St. Paul Lutheran Church, Meriden, Minn., hope fire — not lightning — doesn't strike twice in the same location. When the church burned to the ground Sept. 10, 2000, the congregation voted the same day to rebuild. A year later, they broke ground for its new building, which is nearly done. Dedication will be Sept. 22.
•A bit of church history returned home when William N. Paul brought back to Bethel Lutheran, Springfield, Ohio, a sterling silver private communion set given to him nearly 40 years ago. Rollo Boehringer, pastor of Bethel from 1936 to 1951, gave the set — which he had used during his ministry — to the new pastor in 1966. Paul used the set until his retirement 10 years ago. He mounted the pieces of the communion set in a display case before he presented it to Bethel in May.
•With the help of 20 area congregations, Mount Olive Lutheran, Dallas, operates the Frances Byrd Horn of Plenty Food Pantry, which distributes free monthly groceries and weekly lunches to hungry neighbors. Although only 40 members typically attend worship at Mount Olive, located in impoverished South Dallas, the congregation's food pantry feeds 150 to 200 people weekly. Ralph Gipson, pastor of Mount Olive since 1998, was the motivating force behind the pantry's founding in September 2000. It was named in honor of Frances Byrd, a parishioner who fed hungry people at the church in the 1960s. In an interview with the Dallas Morning News, Gipson explained: "If you don't eat, you lose all sense of who you are as a human being ... selfhood is at stake."
•Back in 1988 when Trondhjem Lutheran, Lonsdale, Minn., was building a new church, there was talk of destroying the old one. But some wanted to preserve it, said Joyce Pflaum, historian and chair of the museum committee, part of the Trondhjem Preservation Society. Not only did they preserve the church, but it has also been designated a National Historic Site. The church was built in 1899, underwent remodeling in 1949, and five years ago had its ceiling removed. First, they were excited to find a tin ceiling after removing the false one, Pflaum said. Then the Minnesota Historical Society encouraged them to look underneath it. There they found a painting done in 1900 "for free" by an unknown artist, she said. Words such as "a treasure" and "true find" are used to describe the ceiling, done in Norwegian color and design. Private donations paid for the restoration and for the process for landmark nomination, Pflaum said. The historic site will be open in the fall for group use.
•In June, Wartburg Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa, welcomed 44 high school juniors and seniors from congregations in five states to its fourth Youth Leadership School. The curriculum was developed by the Center for Youth Ministries, in part through a $75,000 Lilly Foundation grant. Paul G. Hill, the director of the center and the leadership school, said the one-week program "links outdoor ministry with theological education. ... Our camps are important leadership development training grounds and the seminary brings depth to the experience."
•Ask anyone at Immanuel Lutheran Church, Westby, Mont., for a spare button, and you'll likely come up empty-handed — until you ask Kay Tommerup. Her handmade button necklaces are helping build an elevator for the church. Tommerup suffered a bout of encephalitis as a toddler more than 50 years ago, causing physical and mental disabilities. She and other parishioners with challenged mobility often can't descend the steps to the church basement for coffee hour, motivating Immanuel to establish the elevator fund several years ago. Family and friends suggested in January that Tommerup make necklaces to sell for the fund. Sales have contributed $3,200 toward an elevator. Immanuel honored Tommerup with a "Buttons of Faith" Sunday and an oil portrait of herself framed in — what else? — buttons.
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