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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Congregations offer support, prayers

The effects of war are felt across the ELCA as congregations support members on active duty, help families who anxiously await the return of loved ones and pray for peace.

More than 50 members of St. Michael Lutheran Church, Virginia Beach, Va., are serving in Iraq. With Norfolk [Va.] Naval Base nearby, about one-third of the 400-member congregation is involved in the war in some way. Some are pilots; others work in ground crews or in submarine or combat vessel service.

John Himes, a retired Marine infantry officer ordained two years ago, said not many parishioners support the war. “We are supportive of our loved ones,” he said. “[But] let’s not confuse support of loved ones with broken policies.”

Parishioners are anxious about their family members who are serving in Iraq, Himes said, adding, “That’s what television does. How could they not be concerned? This is a very difficult time.”

Yet one benefit of combat is that people have returned to a faith in God. As war drew near, Himes revised his Lenten service “to minister to the needs of people. We continue to focus on that.”


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