• Summer is here, and the living is ... if not easy, it's wet and wild at Immanuel Lutheran Church, Dixon, Ill. For four summers, youth ministry there has revolved around water skiing. Eighth- through twelfth-graders regularly meet at the Rock River with Bibles, swimsuits and sack lunches. "The kids love it, and the participation has grown each year," says Bud Gerdes, who came up with the idea one summer after his boat sat in the garage for most of that year. The youth can also be spotted in the local July 4 Petunia Festival parade — in the boat pulled by the church van.
• A summer internship program at First English Lutheran Church, Appleton, Wis., helps college-aged youth gain experience in ministry. Ten interns for 2002, including three from Slovakia, work with day camps, worship services, arts and sports events, and youth group activities for the congregation's "When School is Out, Church is On!" program.
• It's also garage sale season, and Evergreen [Colo.] Lutheran Church knows something about that kind of project. Last August, they set a record by raising $14,670, increased to $29,070 with Aid Association for Lutherans' matching funds. All proceeds of the Grove Sale benefit several mountain residents in need and community service agencies such as hospice. After 10 sales, their grand total is $142,500, including matching funds.
• After collecting $5,092 during a special offering in March, including $450 in matching Lutheran Brotherhood funds, Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Beaumont, Texas, bought Bibles for a Russian congregation. Through Treasures of the Heart, a Christian nonprofit organization working in Russia, the congregation provided Bibles for every family in the 800-member Vine Church in Vladimir.
• Not only can you do research, shop and read online, but now you can apply for admission to the Lutheran Seminary at Gettysburg (Pa.) via www.ltsg.edu. The ELCA's oldest seminary recently became the first to offer online registration. Four applications were received when this option began in early April, says Nancy Gable, associate dean for vocations and diaconal ministry. Students may also apply for financial aid using the same system.
• Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church, Fountain Hills, Ariz., sponsors three of the "lost boys of Sudan," a group of 3,600 young refugees from war-torn Southern Sudan relocated to 10 U.S. communities by the State Department (see May 2001, page 38). Peter Angon, James Chol and Moses Matet were paired with the congregation by Lutheran Social Ministries of the Southwest.
• Bethesda Lutheran Church, Clarinda, Iowa, was featured this spring on U.S. Farm Report, a weekly cable TV program that addresses agriculture issues but also includes a weekly "country church salute." Last year, Zion Lutheran Church, Gowrie, Iowa, was featured.
• American Lutheran, Turner, Mont., celebrated Easter in a new home--15 months after a Christmas Eve fire destroyed its country church. "We experienced resurrection joy in a very real way," says Scott Hedegaard, pastor. "While we still have some work to do and yet await pews, stained glass and altar furnishings, we are going about the business of making our new building a place of worship and thanksgiving."
• Rosemary Gaibler, a member ofSt. Luke Lutheran Church, Ferndale, Pa., coordinated the sewing efforts of several dozen volunteers for the “United We Stand, United We Sew” program that created a memorial flag for ground zero in New York City. The 20-by-40 foot flag was sewn together from 3,021 U.S. flags, representing the number of Sept. 11 casualties. After being flown in various New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., locations, it is currently displayed at the Smithsonian Museum.
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