The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


April 1999 Churchscan

  • Recapturing the essence of Passover in its Holy Week celebration, Grace Lutheran Church, Hatfield, Pa., enjoyed a Seder supper following its Maundy Thursday service. Serena Sellers, pastor of Grace, prepared a Haggadah — order of service — for the ritual meal that celebrates God's freeing the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt. It was at a Passover supper that Jesus took the bread, broke it and said, "This is my body."

  • For years, anxious suitors have proposed to their beloved at the place where they met. When Tony Bushard decided to ask Erica Willmert for her hand, he did so after the King's Kids program during Valentine's Day worship at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Lawrence, Kan. Bushard and Willmert lead King's Kids programs for fourth- through sixth-graders. "He finished the King's Kids announcements, and he was just shaking," said Jeff Lilley, pastor of Good Shepherd. "Then he said, `I joined this church, and I fell in love in this church and now I'm proposing in this church.' And then he took Erica's hand, knelt and proposed to her." She said "yes." No word on the wedding date yet.

  • The former treasurer of Hope Lutheran Church, Pittsburgh, pleaded guilty to charges he embezzled more than $128,000. John Baker of Irwin, Pa., had faced 144 counts of forgery, one count of failure to make required dispositions of funds received, and one count of unlawful use of a computer stemming from his tenure as treasurer from 1991 to 1997. Each charge carries a possible penalty of seven years. Sentencing is set for this spring.

  • Sunday schoolers at Zion Lutheran Church, Loveland, Colo., broke their piggy banks to send livestock to needy Haitians. During International Stewardship Month, children learned that pigs provide economic security for Haitian families, who can keep an animal for little cost and sell it for cash. With help from the adults, the children raised $1,440 — enough to buy a pig for 48 families in Haiti.

  • A Good Friday observance doubled as a community outreach tool for two rural Lutheran churches in Pennsylvania: St. James, Turbotville, and Messiah, McEwensville. Charla Grieves, pastor of both, organized a march through the streets of each town. Marchers took turns carrying a big cross made from tree limbs as they made their way, stopping nine times for appropriate Scripture readings. In each town, the march ended with service at church. "It really touched the lives of those who participated," Grieves said. "In addition, it was a way of bearing witness to our wider community on the reality of Christ's death on behalf of all of us."

  • Responding to the call to help victims of Hurricane Mitch, congregations in the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod got busy. The Lutheran churches — Salem, Houston; St. John, Angleton, Texas; and Christ the King, Kenner, La. — served as collection sites for supplies bound for Central America. "Before we finished, we had processed over 65 tons of medicines, baby supplies, clothing and water for Honduras," said David Roschke, pastor of Salem.

  • A goodwill donation snowballed as it passed through three rural churches in the Northeastern Iowa Synod, before landing at a two-point parish. It began when West Prairie Lutheran, Leland, gave $1,000 to help North Prairie Lutheran, Scarville, with roof repairs. North Prairie fixed the roof without the gift, but added $400 to the fund and sent the $1,400 to Immanuel Lutheran, Scarville, which was raising money for church windows. When Immanuel didn't need the money after all, it bolstered the fund by $400 and sent the $1,800 to two Lutheran congregations jointly seeking money to hire a pastor: Hope, Littleport, and Immanuel, Elkport.

  • Lutherans in northern Nevada are raising money to complete a medical clinic in La Isla, a community of 4,000 outside Guatemala City. Ron Rentner, pastor of Lord of Mercy Lutheran Church, Sparks, Nev., began the effort after he returned from Central America last summer. "To have a connection is really important to people," he said. The Lutheran Augustinian Church of Guatemala has started on a permanant facility for the clinic, which now runs out of a school.

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