The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Songs can be frontlines too

The Grammys are over, but you'd think from the way people in the New England Synod are talking that two CDs produced by Knute Ogren and his friend David Piper had gone platinum. Their Take a Breath and Enough CDs garnered much more than a statuette. All their profits — $125,000 so far — went to the ELCA World Hunger Appeal.

"This is what we're called to be about. This is who we say we are as Christians," says Ogren, coordinator for congregational life at Emanuel Lutheran Church, Hartford, Conn. "It's very comfortable to be American, young — and for many of us, white. But I'd encourage us all to ask: Who am I? Do I live my life that way? How am I changing lives and bringing hope?

"Neither Piper nor I are theologians, preachers or teachers. We're not in the frontlines at the soup kitchens or political marches. But we can sing songs."

Ogren, 30, calls global hunger a "front-burner" issue. He thought hard about it after talking with Emanuel's youth and elderly members. "When older folks share what's meaningful in life, so often [it's] when they committed to doing something that changed other people's lives — and their own hearts," he says. "And I talked with our young people about the many small ways we answer God's call. But why not do something big and inspire [others] to come along?

"Culturally, we're worn down and cynical. The world gives us all sorts of reasons to say no. But we see in our church many 'yes' stories like our $125,000 for world hunger — wonderful, life-changing, Christ-centered, yes stories that transcend the nos."

Learn more about Ogren and Piper's efforts to end hunger at www.takeabreath.org.


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February issue


Embracing diversity