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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Churchscan

• In preparation for confirmation, 29 ninth-grade students at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Appleton, Wis., created videos of their faith lives. Each student combined a Bible story and verse and interviews with older adults in the congregation to create the videos. They presented their faith stories on May 3 during a congregational gathering at the local IMAX theater, which they had rented for the occasion.

Grace Lutheran Church, Des Moines, Wash., created a virtual food bank to help Christus Victor Disaster Relief in Ocean Springs, Miss. Christus Victor Lutheran asked churches to send semis full of food for its distribution center. Instead, members of Grace ordered food online—more than $12,000 in goods—from stores in Mississippi, boosting the local economy and saving on fuel costs. Christus Victor picked up the items and delivered them to recipients.

The Good Samaritan Fund grants committee, consisting of representatives from Wheat Ridge Ministries and Lutheran Immigration and Refuge Service, awarded $74,800 in grants to 20 churches, 13 of them ELCA. Grants—from $1,000 to $5,000—fund programs to help immigrants, asylum-seekers or refugees adapt to life in the U.S. The ELCA recipients are Pan de Vida, El Mirage, Ariz.; Trinity United, Waukegan, Ill.; Grace, Lexington, Neb.; Immanuel, Lakewood, N.J.; Trinity of Manhattan, New York; St. John, Fargo, N.D.; Good Shepherd, Coatesville, Pa.; Grace, Pittsburgh; Reformation, Columbia, S.C.; Church of the Way, Garland, Texas; St. Mark b­y the Narrows, Tacoma, Wash.; St. Paul, La Crosse, Wis.; and Ascension, Milwaukee. Grant forms for 2007 will be available in the fall.

• Hurricane Katrina evacuees sponsored by St. Matthew Lutheran Church, Urbana, Ill. (See "Blessings all around," November 2005), are now doing well on their own and intend to stay in the area. Shawn Farmer is working two jobs and plans to buy a home for himself and his son, Shawn Jr. Amanda Eaton and her husband, Armando Rocha, are also buying a home for their family. Rocha is working in construction in Biloxi, Miss., while Eaton runs a home day-care. Joyce Smith, her daughter, Keesha Lanehart, and Lanehart’s children are renting. Lanehart is working two cooking jobs in restaurants. St. Matthew sponsored the families for seven months after the hurricane, with additional monetary support from Our Savior Lutheran Church, Twin Falls, Idaho.

Kathryn Wolford resigned as president of Lutheran World Relief, Baltimore, effective Oct. 31 to become president of The McKnight Foundation, Minneapolis, beginning Dec. 1. Wolford has led LWR since 1993, focusing on poverty eradication, sustainable development and advocacy around global trade justice, gender equity and peace-building.

Cana Lutheran Church, Berkley, Mich., combined Christian fellowship with the Motor City’s passion for cars in an outdoor, auto-themed worship service. Worship was held the morning after the Woodward Dream Cruise, an annual convocation of classic and custom cars along Woodward Avenue that draws more than 1.5 million people a year. Cana’s program featured the sermon “On the road again,” and included tailgate-style food and musical entertainment from the group Water to Wine. The congregation enjoyed the service in a 1950s drive-in atmosphere, replacing pews with lawn chairs, blankets and classic cars.

Christ the Servant Lutheran, Houston, is one of the local congregations supporting West Houston Assistance Ministries, a nonprofit that provides short-term assistance to those in need. In mid-June, Jim Giannantonio, pastor of Christ the Servant, challenged members to increase their donations to the Lord’s Table (WHAM’s food pantry) from the 58 pounds collected during May. Instead of designating one Sunday each month as WHAM Food Sunday, parishioners were encouraged to bring a donation every time they came to church. At the end of July, the congregation’s food donations had increased to 833 pounds.

• Nineteen youth and 17 adults from Our Saviour Lutheran Church, Salt Lake City, traveled to Mpongwe, Zambia, July 9-24, to serve families of AIDS patients at Oasis Village, a project that provides shelter, clothing and education. The village was founded by Elijah Mwitanti, pastor of Our Savior and a native of Zambia who moved to the U.S. 12 years ago, and his father, Geoffrey Mwitanti. The group raised more than $70,000 for the trip. Although their supplies (a 40-foot container with building materials, camping gear and community donations for the villagers) were held up in customs and didn’t arrive until the group had left, they still had much to do. Youth plastered the bottom half of the school building, dug and prepared an irrigation canal, leveled the courtyard and surrounding ground, built a bridge to the soccer field, and tilled and fenced a garden. They also used the remaining funds to buy a set of oxen to assist the villagers in farming.

• A woman in Goodridge, Minn., was charged after she allegedly stole money from the Ekelund Lutheran Church Women of the ELCA. Lana Kaye Anderson, 53, allegedly admitted to taking about $11,740 from January 2003 to December 2005. At the time, she was the organization’s treasurer. Anderson also allegedly took money from two local businesses, and has been charged with 16 felony counts for a total of $82,100 in theft. The charges carry penalties ranging from 90 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine to 20 years in prison and/or a $100,000 fine.

• The case is closed on the arsenic poisoning that killed one man and sickened 15 others three years ago at Gustaf Adolph Lutheran Church, New Sweden, Maine ("Faith over fear," June 2003). At an April news conference in Bangor, Maine, law enforcement officials said they now believe Daniel Bondesson, who they had linked to poisoning the coffee at the church, did not have any accomplices. Bondesson killed himself five days after the incident.

• Hands and Hearts, a ministry of Christ Lutheran Church, Santa Clarita, Calif., sent its 1,000th package to troops serving in the Middle East. The ministry has sent about 50 boxes a month for the past two years to 50 soldiers, Marines, sailors and airmen on the front lines, while praying for them at home. In addition to toiletries and snacks, Hands and Hearts encloses pictures and letters from kids. As a service project during vacation Bible school, youth and their families were asked to donate shoes—400 pair were sent to members of the U.S. Army to be distributed to children in Afghanistan.

• More than 30 ELCA clergy and lay people signed the Colorado Confession, a document drafted by a grass-roots ecumenical group in the Denver area that expresses concern over the religious right’s influence in the world. The document addresses the question, “What does it mean to live faithfully as the church in our American context?” and asserts that the church “is not to be identified with any particular institutional expression.” It also calls church members to “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God” and explore “what this might concretely mean” through greater engagement with the community and world.


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November issue

NOVEMBER issue:

The ELCA's aging clergy wave

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