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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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March 1999 Churchscan

  • A Sunday school project provided a wonderful Easter banner for Trinity Lutheran Church, Hawkeye, Iowa. Before Lent, each class designed and decorated an "alleluia square." On the first Sunday in Lent, the squares were displayed and then symbolically "buried" in a box under the altar. Then the church's quilters secretly pieced the squares together, framing each with bright blue fabric. On Easter Sunday, the squares had "resurrected" in an enormous banner hanging in the sanctuary.

  • Answering its call to be a downtown congregation and reach out to city dwellers in its midst, Zion Lutheran Church, Muscatine, Iowa, hosted a block party. It sent out more than 1,000 invitations in English and Spanish to residents asking them to come for food and fun. "The party shows our neighbors that we are glad to be where we are, that we want to know who our neighbors are, that we want their children to have fun and that we want to be an important part of the neighborhood," said Karla Griffen, pastor of Zion.

  • At Hope Lutheran Church, Hollywood, Calif., Holocaust survivor and author Ebi Gabor was the featured speaker at the "With One Love" service commemorating the birth of the Martin Luther King Jr. Gabor's Holocaust experiences are chronicled in her book Blood Tattoo. The ecumenical service called for unity through celebrating diversity.

  • The Southeastern Synod, which covers Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama, opened its first Spanish-speaking congregation, Sagrada Familia Lutheran, Doraville, Ga. The church, part of Advent Lutheran, was organized by pastor/developer Ricardo Sinisterra, a native of Panama. Sunday worship draws up to 100 from the multicultural "Buford corridor" area of Atlanta, where many Latin Americans have settled.

  • Marking a milestone in accessibility, Resurrection Lutheran Church, Arlington, Va., in January dedicated its new elevator, largely funded by a bequest from member Marian Ullrich.

  • Parents and students in Portland, Ore., were stunned when several members of the Grant High School senior class were arrested for a series of armed holdups. One of them had even been featured on America's Most Wanted. In response, Central and Augustana Lutheran, along with other churches and groups, held a community dialogue that drew 175 and helped air the issues and discuss solutions.

  • When children of Trinity Lutheran Church, Rice Lake, Wis., fought their "Great Sunday School War," they all emerged as winners. Each class competed to raise the most pennies to be put toward building new Sunday school classrooms. When a cease-fire was called, the children celebrated raising $275.74 with a pizza party.

  • Its Sunday school bursting at the seams with nearly 50 children, Advent Lutheran Church, Mill Creek, Wash., needed a miracle. The church found a used portable classroom for sale by a local college, but Advent lacked the $20,000 to buy and renovate it. The church designated a "Miracle Sunday" to raise the money. It publicized the campaign in letters and the church newsletter. The effort paid off: "Miracle Sunday" netted $19,600 — and a $1,400 donation the following week put them over the top. The children now learn in their new classroom.

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