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Churchscan

• In February, Elk Horn [Iowa] Lutheran Church ratified its initial vote to pull out of the ELCA while Our Saviour Lutheran Church in nearby Audubon took its first of two required withdrawal votes. The congregations are withdrawing over ecumenical and social issues. Both are members of Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ, which was formed in 2001 in reaction to Called to Common Mission, the 1999 agreement between the ELCA and Episcopal Church, and a perceived liberal trend in the ELCA related to sexuality issues.

• In the “I’ll do just about anything to raise money” department, Nathan Frambach, a professor at Wartburg Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa, sat in the seminary’s refectory hall in February while two stylists buzzed his hair, carved a W in the back and dyed it blue and gold. The seminary community raised $5,325 for Bronnum Lutheran Seminary in Yola, Nigeria, enough to pay teaching salaries for two years. Duane Larson, Wartburg president, put his hand on Frambach’s head and gave him this lighthearted blessing: “The Lord be with you. Oh Lord, stir up fertile follicles here.”

• And in that same category … students at Texas Lutheran, Seguin, raised more than $127,000 for the university during a fall 2001 phone-a-thon, setting a new record. The students also won a bet with the school’s development officers. They dyed Mollie Wettstein’s hair blue and silver, and Betsy Clardy’s orange, then fluorescent pink.

• More than 18,000 people attending a January game between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Atlanta Hawks stood for the national anthem sung by All the King’s Men, the 35-member men’s choir from King of Kings Lutheran Church, Woodbury, Minn.

• The parsonage of Faith Lutheran Church, Gardner, Iowa, needed a new roof before winter, but the budget lacked the funds to pay for repairs. That was no obstacle for 12 parishioners. Ranging in age from mid-20s to early 80s, the men took to the roof on a Friday in October and laid almost 2,000 feet of roof on the parsonage in seven hours. Owen Gaasedelen, pastor, and his wife, Kaye, have been enjoying their new roof ever since.

• After deciding to close its doors in 2001, St. Stephen Lutheran Church, Chicago, donated $120,000 of its assets to the ELCA Special Needs Retirement Fund. The fund provides financial assistance to low-income retired pastors and rostered layworkers, some of whom are living at or below the poverty line on older church pension programs.

• For its 250th anniversary in May, St. Paul Lutheran Church, Penryn, Pa., will share communion with Jerusalem United Church of Christ in Penryn to celebrate historic and contemporary ties. St. Paul and Jerusalem were founded in 1752 in a union church agreement that enabled the congregations to share a building. The May service, which will also celebrate the recent full communion agreement between the Reformed and ELCA churches, will use the communion set shared by Jerusalem and St. Paul in the 18th century.

• Church bells rang again for Bethany Lutheran, Menahga, Minn., last fall when the congregation dedicated a new bell tower. Bethany’s bell had been in storage since 1995, when the original tower was deemed too damaged to save when the church was undergoing remodeling for its centennial. The congregation chose member Rosemari Anderson’s plan, which elevated the church bell to 40 feet.

• With a $20,000 Aid Association for Lutherans grant, a Minneapolis organization hopes to educate American youth about the dangers of sexual exploitation. The Alliance for Speaking Truth on Prostitution will work with Women of the ELCA leaders in eight synods to train speakers who will address church and community groups on the issues of prostitution, pornography and stripping.

• David Parsons, intern at St.John-St. Matthew-Emanuel Lutheran Church in Brooklyn, N.Y., volunteered as a Red Cross chaplain soon after Sept. 11, but before that he had an even more unusual vocation. Parsons is a former opera singer who had toured with the New York City Opera before leaving the career in 1998 to enter Union Seminary, affiliated with the Lutheran Seminary at Philadelphia.

• Cameras seem to follow him everywhere, says Khader El-Yateem, pastor of Salam Arabic Lutheran Church, Brooklyn, N.Y. El-Yateem and the Arabic-speaking congregation have struggled in the wake of Sept. 11 with loss, grief and harassment from neighbors. Yet new ministries have blossomed, including the Unity Task Force, an effort with area Muslim and Jewish populations, and the Arab-American Christian Coalition, which will educate its neighbors about Christianity in Arab communities to combat the stereotype that all Arabs are Muslims. A team from the British Broadcasting Channel spent time with El-Yateem in late 2001 and early 2002, taping everything from a December vespers service, to visits to parishioners, to conversations in the narthex. The one-hour documentary will likely be aired on the BBC next year and may be shown in the United States on PBS or HBO.

• Twenty-seven youth and three adults from churches in theUpper Susquehanna Synod, experienced life as German Lutherans for two weeks last fall when they visited their companion synod in the Lutheran Church of Bavaria. The visit included home stays with German families and a trip to a German camp, activities that echoed the Bavarian youths’ 1999 visit to Pennsylvania.

• The Metropolitan Chicago Synod received a $65,000 grant in February from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation. The grant will supplement an existing loan fund in the synod that provides money to congregations for energy-saving building upgrades and for educational outreach focused on energy conservation.


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