• Two religion professors from Wartburg College, Waverly, Iowa, contributed to archaeological work featured on PBS' NOVA: Ancient Refuge in the Holy Land in November. The episode focused on excavations at the Cave of Letters near the Dead Sea, south of Jerusalem. Due to its remoteness, there was a gap in excavation between 1961 and 2000, when Western scholars revisited it. Based on the recent excavations, archaeologists believe the Cave of Letters may be connected to the Dead Sea scrolls and the first and second Jewish rebellions against the Romans. Work by Fred Strickert and Walter "Chip" Bouzard may support these assertions. Strickert is known as an expert in ancient coins, and Bouzard decoded part of an important sefer (book) from the cave.
•The historic Krauth house at the Lutheran Seminary at Gettysburg (Pa.) was damaged by fire Nov. 8. No one was home in either of the house's two apartments, but one family's dog died in the fire. Constructed in 1834, the Krauth house is one of the three original historic structures on Seminary Ridge.
• Faith was formed in an 8-year-old girl and her 5-year-old brother by parents, extended family and Hope Lutheran Church, Smithfield, Neb. — and in early October "this faith was put to the test and not found wanting," said their pastor, Cathi Braasch. While riding in their father's pickup on a normally quiet country road, shots were fired from a passing vehicle carrying two teen suspects in a multicounty crime spree. Bullets struck the girl and sent shattered glass into the cab. The most profound words that morning came from the children, Braasch said, "expressing their faith as naturally as they would often do during the children's message on Sunday mornings." The boy said: "The people who shot us were naughty people, but God helped us — and God can help them too." And from his sister: "We could have been killed. There were a hundred angels there." The children and parents were back in church the next Sunday, able to thank God and the congregation.
• The Florida-Bahamas Synod and the Diocese of Southwest Florida of the Episcopal Church announced the federation of Lamb of God Church, Fort Myers, signed into existence Sept. 7 and received into the Episcopal Church Oct. 9. It was already listed on the ELCA roster. It is the first federated congregation with the Episcopal Church in Florida and the second in the nation.
• Lutheran Medical Center's Family Health Center Network, now offers stress management to 11 Brooklyn, N.Y., schools. The center has operated comprehensive school health programs for 20 years, including access to health care, promoting healthy lifestyle practices and reducing risk behaviors. As a complement, children now learn stress reduction and concentration techniques through yoga.
• No more coffee from a can for these worshipers — Hope Lutheran Church, West Hollywood, Calif., now offers food and coffee that rival most social hours. A full-service coffee bar has everything from espresso to hot chocolate, as well as appetizers catered by — who else? — Divine Catering. Attendance has reportedly increased by more than 20 percent since the change.
• Nearly a year ago, Christ Lutheran Church, Vienna, W.Va., voted to open a sanctuary house. The project turned into an ecumenical operation and Sanctuary of Light, a house behind the church, opened in April. The house is offered free to those who have suffered the loss of home due to natural disaster, live out of town and have a family member in the hospital, or have been stranded by a car breakdown or accident. Peggy Rogers, church council member, says the desire to offer true hospitality set the mission in motion: "Old and New Testament stories show us how serious our obligation is to welcome the stranger in our home and tell us that guests are carrying precious gifts with them, which they are eager to reveal to a receptive host."
© 2016 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers