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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Pentecost calling

Nebraska congregation has an odd beginning, but is off to a good start

On Pentecost Sunday the doors were wide open at Hope Lutheran Church, an ELCA mission in Columbus, Neb. Lifting their voices in enthusiastic song, some 70 people gathered in June to install Dick Woolard as pastor and dedicate the worship space they worked so hard to renovate. Windows, woodwork, altar, kitchen, floors and bathrooms were finished. Front pews were packed and extra folding chairs stood ready at the back.

Hope Lutheran Church, Columbus, Neb.,
Hope Lutheran Church, Columbus, Neb., presented members Clifford (left) and Alfreda Schroeder with a framed photo of a temporary worship space the couple donated for the congregation’s first months.
“Some of you know this church was born in pain and locked doors and people who said they were done with the ELCA,” preached Joyce Miller, the congregation’s former interim pastor.

Moving around the worship space, she followed eyes and hearts rather than a set of notes. “Have you realized how far the Spirit has pushed us?” she asked. “Humans are fractious.... How often has it happened that fractious people have broken up a church? Well, today, fractious people have put one together. It’s been wonderful to see people so desirous of being the church.”

Among those gathered was a core group of about 25 that met with Nebraska Synod leaders last September to discuss starting an ELCA mission. Half of that group came from Trinity Lutheran in Columbus—a 2,000-member congregation that left the ELCA last year (July 2006, "It's about Scripture"). Their departure left no ELCA presence in downtown Columbus. Several who were interviewed said they didn’t like the direction Trinity was going and wanted to remain in the ELCA. But not one expressed hard feelings toward Trinity.


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November issue

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