* Police arrested a man for the June 29 murders of Ivon Harris, 65, pastor of Trinity Slovak Lutheran Church, Chicago, and his daughter Sarah Harris, 24. Russell Sedelmaier, 44, had cleaned the Harris’ home in Buffalo Grove, Ill., once a week for more than five years and had keys to the house. Sedelmaier told police investigators and prosecutors that he had planned to burglarize the home, but Sarah Harris returned home from lunch and caught him on a day he wasn’t scheduled to be there. Her father arrived home several hours later. Although both bodies were beaten severely, the two died of smoke inhalation from a fire allegedly started to cover up the crime, the medical examiner’s office reported. Ivon’s wife, Eileen Harris, also an ELCA pastor, and their son, Nathan Harris, and his wife, Sylvia, were in court July 21 as details of the murders were released. Sedelmaier confessed to the crimes during a videotaped interrogation.
* Emanuel Lutheran, West Warwick, is the first church in Rhode Island to be powered entirely by renewable energy. The church selected electricity from wind, solar and hydro sources through GreenStart, a program offered by a local nonprofit energy provider, People’s Power and Light. “Using renewable energy to power our church is a way for us to show our commitment to protecting the environment,” said Paul Krampitz, pastor of Emmanuel. “We hope other members of the faith community will decide to follow our lead and choose to do the same.”
* Contributions and applications are being accepted for the “Reverend Maynard and Nancy Nelson Scholarship” for missionaries. The Nelsons established the scholarship at Calvary Lutheran, Golden Valley, Minn., before Maynard Nelson, a former pastor of the congregation, died in 2004. The vision for the fund, in the words of Maynard Nelson, “is to fulfill the challenge of the Scriptures to evangelize the world.”
* The Lutheran Youth Choir of North America (www.lutheranyouthchoir.org) is being formed and is planning its first tour for July/August 2006, says conductor Philip Spencer. The choir is a nonprofit organization formed by members of Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church, Glen Ellyn, Ill. The conductor, accompanist, chaplain, business manager and board of directors are all members of Faith. Incoming freshmen and outgoing seniors are welcome to submit an application and audition recording by Dec. 1. Accepted participants will be notified by March 1, 2006. About 30 to 40 high school students will gather in Glen Ellyn for a week of rehearsal next summer before a one-week tour of the Midwest and Canada. In 2007 the choir will tour Europe. “To the best of our knowledge, no such choir of this international scope, solely for high school age youth, sponsored by a Lutheran congregation, exists within any Lutheran church body in North America,” Spencer says. The choir will perform both sacred and some secular music; its repertoire will focus on composers of Lutheran heritage.
* All Saints Lutheran Church, Port Orange, Fla., hosts a free midweek concert series, “Music for Healing: Body, Mind and Spirit,” bringing together musicians from area churches and schools for instrumental music and peaceful reflection. Everyone from clergy to caregivers and the general public is welcome at the series, which is sponsored by the Port Orange Ministerial Association. So far 16 musicians have participated, and the public response has been overwhelmingly positive.
* St. Mark Lutheran Church, Lindenhurst, Ill., has “Blessing Givers.” Members write their prayer needs on a card. Between worship services, a blessing giver is available to anoint the person with oil and say a blessing from the Bible card collection. Members are given the card and encouraged to use it for prayer during the week. Sandra Templeton, an associate in ministry, says 20 blessing givers last year gave out 622 blessings. “We helped people discern going to college or new ways to serve God,” she said. “We helped people cope with lost jobs, depression, divorce, [surgery] and death.”
* Thrivent Financial for Lutherans awarded $1.9 million to the ELCA to start congregations, fund diversity programs and support evangelism.
© 2013 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers