- It’s not unusual for congregations to publish a book of Lenten or Advent devotionals written by members. But parishioners of Christ Evangelical Lutheran, Jeffersontown, Ky., put together a different sort of book. They wrote Why I Go to Church, which they use to invite others to worship. Instead of focusing on why people don’t go to church, Ron Poisel, pastor of Christ, challenged members to write about why they go to church. All ages contributed—some of the children’s writings appear in their handwriting. Entries express a common thread: “If I don’t go something is missing”; “I leave feeling nourished, satisfied, rejuvenated, loved”; and “To experience the presence of God.”
- In routine fashion, the women of Brayton [Iowa] Lutheran Church sent 135 quilts to Lutheran World Relief. But for the first time, they did a little something different with their nimble fingers and trusty machines. They came to the rescue of the Exira [Iowa] High School music department, which needed 10 poodle skirts for their production of Bye Bye Birdie. “While this wasn’t exactly a church project, we felt that helping the local school out was a worthy cause,” says Maxine Christensen.
- A Time for Burning, featuring Augustana Lutheran Church, Omaha, Neb., and its pastor, William Youngdahl, was named to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress due to its cultural, historic and artistic significance. The film is one of 25 to be designated this year out of more than 1,000 nominated. Produced in 1966 by Lutheran Film Associates, the film chronicles the work of Youngdahl, who spurred his all-white congregation into reaching out to African American Lutherans during the early days of the civil rights movement. Docurama, a distributor of documentaries, planned to release the film on DVD in February.
- In January, Rosemarie Johnk, former finance director of the Northwestern Minnesota Synod, pleaded guilty to theft. In 2004 she was charged with forging a credit card application on the synod’s account and making nearly $24,000 in unauthorized purchases on this and other accounts. The Forum (Fargo, N.D, and Moorhead, Minn.) reported Jan. 21 that Johnk made a plea bargain before her trial date of Jan. 31, and received a one-year jail term and a $50 fine. She also agreed to repay the $23,938.47 to the synod within two years. “We’re glad this is settled,” said Rolf Wangberg, synod bishop. “We hope Rosie can learn from this and pull her life together. I hope we can all move on.”
- The Christian Fly Fishing Retreat held last spring at Sugar Creek Bible Camp, Ferryville, Wis., was such a hit the second annual is just around the corner—next month, in fact. Last year’s retreat was attended by experienced anglers, but this year is open to beginners. Gary Hedding, assistant to the bishop of the Northwest Synod of Wisconsin, promises lively discussion regarding “questions of faith” and, likely, trout for all. At least that was last year’s fishing report.
- Lutheran Services Florida Inc., Tampa, received a $5.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to build affordable, subsidized housing for low-income elderly residents. The ELCA social service agency will use the grant, in collaboration with Apostles Lutheran, Brandon, Fla., to build Apostles Village, a 53-unit apartment complex on property adjacent to the church.
- Robert C. Oliver was elected president of Augustana College, Sioux Falls, S.D., Jan. 14. Oliver, chair and associate professor of the business administration department, begins his new duties Aug. 1. He succeeds Bruce Halverson, who will retire July 31. Oliver is past chair of the Board of Trustees and began teaching at Augustana in 2004.
- Hal tatakallam al-’Arabiyya? In other words: Do you speak Arabic? In July the Al-WÄ?ha (The Oasis) language village will offer Arabic as part of the educational menu at Concordia Language Villages, a program of Concordia College, Moorhead, Minn. The villages immerse children, adults and families in study of various languages through singing, dancing, art, meals and more. For more information, call (800) 222-4750.
- Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, Baltimore, celebrated reauthorization of legislation that protects children from being trafficked or sold for sex or labor. The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2005 funds prevention programs for the next two years and provides federal grants for agencies that work with victims. LIRS notes that every year 600,000 to 800,000 men, women and children are trafficked across borders—about 17,000 of them into the U.S. Eighty percent are female and 50 percent are minors.
- Bethany College, Lindsborg, Kan., received an $80,000 grant from Thrivent Financial for Lutherans’ Youth Leadership Initiative program to help youth learn about leading in the church and community. Part of the funds support Bethany’s “Learn, Serve, Lead” project, where more than 300 youth and young adults explore ways people of faith work together to confront challenges facing youth, families and communities.
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