• Marcus J. Miller will leave his call as bishop of the Northeastern Ohio Synod to be president of Lutheran Southern Seminary, Columbia, S.C., beginning Aug. 15. He succeeds Frederick Reisz, who retires after 14 years as president. The Northeastern Ohio Synod will meet in December to elect a new bishop.
• Robin Strickler, a member of Muhlenberg Lutheran Church, Harrisonburg, Va., walked from that city to Winchester, Va.—about 60 miles—in April to raise money for a new Lutheran high school in Rwanda. “Walking is a natural fundraiser because Rwandan children typically walk 10 to 12 miles to and from school each day,” she said. Beginning with seventh grade and adding a grade each year, the English-language curriculum will focus on sustainability, hands-on learning, community service, literacy, math and science. The school’s goal is to ready students academically and spiritually to address the realities of their country, which include recovery from war and genocide, poverty, AIDS, and the ongoing problems of soil degradation, deforestation and lack of clean water. Meanwhile, senior high youth from Davis [Calif.] Lutheran Church organized a six-mile walk in May to raise money for the school. The high school students had been studying symbols of water in the Bible, as well as worldwide water issues. This led them to focus their fundraiser on the Rwandan school’s need for a water system.
• Kidz Express, a nonprofit youth organization in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood, received a $75,000 three-year grant from the ELCA Lutheran Services for Children Endowment for life skills education. Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Oak Park, Ill., founded Kidz Express in 1997 to provide self-esteem-building programs and services for inner-city children and to bridge the gap between the Austin area and neighboring Oak Park. “When we opened, we averaged 12 to 15 participants at our weekly gatherings,” said Duane Ehresman, Kidz Express president. “As time went on and we expanded to 60 kids a week, and 120 kids total in the program, we realized we needed ... a larger facility.” Last October the new Kidz Express Community Center opened. Activities include tutoring, social events, field trips and discussions on such topics as self-respect and finding one’s spiritual path. The facility includes a poolroom, basketball court and computer room.
• The Upper Susquehanna Synod sent 91 beds to Curran [Liberia] Lutheran Hospital for its “Beds to Liberia” campaign. “It’s a feeling of satisfaction knowing that instead of being discarded these beds ... will be used in a country where poverty is high and even a small item like a small bed is a luxury,” said Robert Bradford, retired professor, Susquehanna University, Selinsgrove, Pa. Bradford helped coordinate the project between the synod and Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries, which owns two nursing and assisted living facilities in the synod. Diakon’s board of directors decided to replace manually operated beds at Ohesson Manor, a nursing home and assisted living facility near Lewistown, Pa., with electric-operated beds, which paved the way for the synod to donate the beds.
• Lutheran Church of the Master, Pasco, Wash., started a “Caring Bears” ministry. The bears sit in the pews on Sundays and are brought to members or friends who need comfort. The bear tag reads: “Hi, I’m a Caring Bear. I’ve been sitting in the church during services, sharing the worship and absorbing the joys, sorrows and fellowship with all those attending.... Because we really care about you, I want to come and be with you to give comfort and care as long as you need me. I love you.”
• Volunteers from Living Word Lutheran Church, Katy, Texas, sew, knit and assemble kits for midwives who deliver babies in Lutheran hospitals in Africa and India. The kits include hats, shirts and receiving blankets. The Global Health Ministries’ Midwife Project is part of Houston’s involvement in Global Mission Medical Ministry, which ships donated medical equipment to Lutheran hospitals in developing countries.
• Roselawn Lutheran Church, Cincinnati, and the Cincinnati Dental Society opened a free dental clinic that primarily serves children at adjacent Roselawn Condon, an elementary school where 65 percent of the students come from families whose incomes are below the federal poverty level. Initially, Cincinnati zoning law prohibited the clinic from being set up in the church, but the City Council granted a variance. Later the city building department said the basement clinic needed an elevator or chair lift to be accessible to the disabled, which held up the opening for months. Finally, Christ Cathedral, an Episcopal church in Cincinnati, gave Roselawn a $12,500 grant to install the chair lift. The dental society provides volunteer staff and donated about $75,000 in equipment.
• Lamb of God Lutheran, Fort Myers, is the first federated Lutheran-Episcopal congregation in Florida and the second in the nation. When St. Joseph Episcopal Church closed in 2000, its members were invited to a combined worship service blocks away at Lamb of God. The merger was made possible by Called to Common Mission, a full communion agreement approved by the Episcopal Church in 2000 and the ELCA in 2001. The idea of a merger came from conversations between Walter Fohs, pastor of Lamb of God, and John Adler, interim vicar of St. Joseph. “It just made sense,” Fohs said. “Why build two congregations that are a block or two away from each other? Why replicate buildings and staff when we could do the same thing in the same place?” Denominational lines have all but disappeared, said Rob Patterson, a Lutheran member of the congregation’s board of trustees. “The interesting thing to me is I really don’t know who’s who. People are recognizing that, regardless of our denominational orientation, we’re just really one people under God.”
© 2014 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers