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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Churchscan

• ELCA-affiliated Parmly Senior Housing & Services, Chisago City, Minn., received the “Innovation of the Year” award from the Minnesota Health & Housing Alliance. The MHHA recognized Parmly’s “Innovation Station,” an online tool patterned after amazon.com, where employees can share and learn from each other’s ideas. It also cited Parmly’s “Angel Care,” a holistic approach for end-of-life care in a long-term care setting. A Parmly task force and a community pastor developed the process for end-of-life care, including accommodating the wishes of the dying and their loved ones by doing such things as controlling pain and respecting their spirituality.

• For centuries Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Protestant churches have observed the week following Easter Sunday as Holy Humor Sunday—days of laughter with parties and picnics to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. The custom, begun by the Greeks, finds its roots in the musings of early church theologians who claimed that God played a practical joke on the devil by raising Jesus from the dead. Last year members of three congregations in the Crooked Creek Cooperative Lutheran Ministries, Ford City, Pa., were encouraged to “wear silly clothes, and did they ever,” said April Dailey, pastor. The organist wore a jester’s cap with bells. A choir member braided his beard, wore ribbons in it and came barefoot. Others wore tie-dyed T-shirts and Dr. Seuss hats. The congregation sang Easter carols to Christmas tunes. John Lemnitzer, pastor, Bethel Lutheran Church, Phoenix, dressed as a clown last year, with big shoes and flashing lights, and made his entrance running down the center aisle to the pulpit to give his sermon: “The Joy of the Lord.”

• Each month, members of Christ United Lutheran, Millmont, Pa., package boxes of supplies to send to military personnel serving in Iraq, including four soldiers with ties to the church. The boxes take about three to four weeks to arrive. “They really need some of these items over there,” said Audrey Crone, who has a nephew and a grandson serving in Iraq. “It does bring a touch of home to them. They’re grateful for it.”

• The “Gathering Space” at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Los Alamos, N.M., won two awards: “Best Renovation” from the Albuquerque Chapter of the American Architects Institute, 2005, and “Best Renovation/Restoration Project: Under $5 million” from Southwest Contractor magazine. The project also won two regional awards for 2005: the New Mexico American Institute of Architects Merit Award and the Southwest Contractor Best Building Awards. The project includes a gathering place (narthex), entry tower, restored stained-glass assembly, additional classrooms, a library/study area and new kitchen.

Lutheran Social Services of Northeast Florida’s Second Harvest Food Bank hosted its largest “Food for Families” Mobile Pantry in March, distributing 1,500 boxes of food to feed more than 6,000 people in Jacksonville, Fla. ELCA and Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod members were among those who packaged the food boxes. Thrivent Financial for Lutherans contributed $10,000 based on 21,225 volunteer hours contributed by 750 Lutherans to put on this event. Prior to the event, ELCA and LCMS congregations ran food drives and collected financial donations for the pantry. “Through our own food pantry ministry we have witnessed an ever-growing need for financial assistance and support for people living on the edge. LSS of Northeast Florida is [filling] that need,” said Janis Kinley, a pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, Jacksonville.

• “Even Dodge City during its wildest frontier period prohibited guns in churches,” said Gerald Mansholt, bishop of the Central States Synod, in a statement with bishops from the United Methodist Church of the Kansas area and the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas. The statement was in response to a bill that passed the state Senate that would allow Kansans to carry concealed guns. The measure lists places where the weapons can’t be carried, including schools, government buildings and mental health centers. Efforts to add churches and libraries failed. “Instead of a ‘Welcome’ sign, every worshiper will be greeted by a ‘No guns’ sign,” the bishops said. The bishops said children are often in churches and pastors sometimes provide counseling similar to mental health centers, where guns are not allowed.

• Nicole Ogburn from the Artful Prayer Sunday school class at Faith Lutheran Church, O’Fallon, Ill., was assigned to Baghdad, Iraq. She took her prayer drawing book, Bible and faith with her. Her work as a military nurse includes working in a prosthetic clinic where Iraqi children who have lost limbs in the war are treated. While attending a Bible class she noticed many South American troops had no Bibles. She wrote home, asking for toys for the children and Spanish-language Bibles for the troops. Her sons conducted a toy drive at their schools. Thanks to Lenten suppers served by the Sunday school classes, Bibles—and toys—were purchased and shipped to Iraq.

• Fourteen brave people ran into frigid Lake Michigan in February as part of Lutheran Volunteer Corps’ 7th Annual Polar Bear Fundraiser. LVC’s Chicago support committee organized the event, which raised nearly $2,500 as of March 21. Friends, alumni and current volunteers collected pledges for each second participants were in the water or a flat amount. Joanne Otte of LVC said the money helps LVC recruit and support full-time volunteers who commit to a year of “simplicity, community and justice while exploring spirituality.” She added, “We had many spectators come and support our polar bears by bringing them hot chocolate, coffee and extra blankets, as well as cheering them on.”

William Linn Fisher, ELCA pastor and Air Force chaplain stationed at Eielson Air Force Base near Fairbanks, Alaska, conducted a memorial service for Rin Tin, a working military dog who died of cancer. Rin Tin, who gave his entire life to the Air Force, conducted numerous explosive sweeps for the Fairbanks community. “Our dogs mean so much to us. They are our partners and friends, we work with them each day and even deploy with them,” said dog trainer, Jacqueline Sciascia. “The dogs become such a big part of us. They don’t ask to be recruited into the military, but they adapt and overcome. The dogs sleep on a concrete floor, in a fenced kennel. Getting out and riding in a vehicle with their handler is what they live for. They work hard for us and never complain.”

Our Savior Lutheran Church, Jefferson City, Mo., raised $1,923 for the ELCA World Hunger Appeal, including $800 from Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, through its “This is Most Certainly True” trivia night. The confirmation students sponsored the event, serving as hosts and selling refreshments. The congregation’s support of the hunger appeal traditionally takes place around Thanksgiving. “However, we see Lent as an appropriate time to look at world hunger,” said Scott Musselman, pastor. “In Lent we look at the suffering of Jesus and hear his call to address the suffering of God’s people. It just seemed to make sense.”


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