• Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Princeton Junction, N.J., reaches out to homeless children through the Cherry Tree Club preschool, a program with HomeFront, an organization that serves the homeless in Mercer County, N.J. The preschool provides educational and socialization experiences for children whose families live in temporary housing, including shelters, motels and transitional facilities. Its mission is to help children “experience the joy and magic of childhood; enjoy a safe place to play; grow in socialization and school readiness skills; and know God’s love.” The preschool operates five days a week with a curriculum that includes crafts, reading, music, supervised play and computer work.
• Thrivent Financial for Lutherans reached its hurricane disaster response goal, with more than $6 million raised for Katrina survivors. The majority of the money is being distributed through Lutheran disaster relief agencies, including ELCA Domestic Disaster Response. Thrivent chapters also will distribute funds to relief agencies in affected areas. Following Katrina, Thrivent pledged $1 for every $2 donated by members, resulting in $2 million to supplement the more than $4 million given by its members.
• Jerald W. Schara, 64, pastor of St. John and St. Paul Lutheran churches, Mazomanie, Wis., was suspended in November when a technician called police after finding sexually explicit images of children on his computer. Schara was charged with possessing child pornography and released from a Dane County Jail on bond. He was ordered not to have unsupervised contact with girls and not to use a computer. Schara admitted to a deputy that he had started downloading child pornography in the spring and copying pictures onto CDs and DVDs. George Carlson, bishop of the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin, told Capital Newspapers in Madison,Wis., that Schara was suspended. The church doesn’t tolerate sexual exploitation or misconduct and considers the charges very serious, he added.
• It was a day of reunion for two congregations—Shofner Lutheran Chapel, Shelbyville, Tenn., and nearby Mount Zion Haley Missionary Baptist—that, more than a century ago, used to regularly worship together. Before the Civil War, the slaves that formed the congregation of Mount Zion Haley worshiped with the white landowners who were members of Shofner’s before the present-day chapel was built. They parted ways in 1870, but 150 members from both congregations worshiped and shared a dinner on the chapel grounds in June 2005. Janice Rippy of Mount Zion Haley said her great-grandfather, a slave who once worshiped at Shofner’s, would have been pleased. “He was a slave, and that can’t be changed,” she said. “It doesn’t matter as much if we all get along like we’re getting along today.”
© 2014 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers