|Shoulder to shoulder|
Soledad Luna Torres (left) and Luis Medena
from Iglesia Luterana Cristo Rey, El Paso, Texas, look on as Monaf
Assafin from Salam Arabic Lutheran Church, Brooklyn, N.Y., plays an
impromptu piece on the piano at Camp EWALU in Strawberry Point, Iowa.
• An Illinois regulatory body cleared the way for Chicago’s
Advocate Bethany Hospital
to be converted into a long-term acute-care
facility. The hospital belongs to Advocate Health Care, an
ELCA-affiliated medical group. Advocate Health Care received the
go-ahead to close the hospital’s psychiatric and obstetrics units when
the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board reversed a previous
decision. At its summer assembly, the Metropolitan Chicago Synod
opposed the switch, approving a measure that asked Advocate to maintain
full acute health-care services at the West Side hospital ("Synod questions hospital decisions
• Lutherans provided assistance for those affected by wildfires near Big Timber, Mont.
The Derby Fire burned 208,000 acres. Members of Big Timber Lutheran Church welcomed evacuees into their homes. They coordinated information on the fires and Red Cross needs and relayed the information to the congregation through the Internet. Immanuel Lutheran Church, Absarokee, Mont., also provided assistance for those relocated from the fire. David W. Peters, director of Lutheran Social Services of Montana, said the agency developed training for pastors, parish nurses and other faith leaders “to help those closest to an event understand the dynamics and best possible responses to disasters.” Its disaster services includes Lutheran Disaster Response of Montana. Those who wish to help may route checks through Big Timber Lutheran, said its pastor, Alan L. Baglien. Write checks to Big Timber Lutheran Church Ministerial Association, P.O. Box 278, Big Timber, MT 59011-0278; 406-932-5723.
• Thirteen farmers from Zion Lutheran Church, Pickrell, Neb.
, donated about 25 tons of hay that was distributed to livestock owners in northwestern Nebraska struggling from the effects of ongoing drought and fires. Zion’s farmers in southeastern Nebraska received more rain and thus better hay crops than they had expected. Lutherans donated their time, hay, fuel and a driver to move the hay some 500 miles. They worked with the Orphan Grain Train in Norfolk, a Lutheran organization that coordinates disaster relief efforts.
• Lower Coon Valley Lutheran Church, Stoddard, Wis.
, sponsored its second annual Organic Supper to use organic products produced and donated by members and others in the community. More than 175 people were served such foods as organic quiche, church-made oatmeal bread, salad and apple crisp with either organic whipped cream or ice cream to top it off. “This supper is about community-building on many levels, and it wouldn’t be possible without the support of our members and friends, some of whom are organic farmers,” said Donald Fox, the church’s pastor.
• Richard L. Jeske
, an ELCA pastor from Overland Park, Kan., became director of ecumenical and inter-faith relations at the American Bible Society in New York City. This is a new position for the society, which gave Jeske a mandate to strengthen relationships between the society and mainline Protestant churches, the Roman Catholic Church and Orthodox church bodies. Jeske also has been asked to find appropriate ways to encourage “robust ecumenical and interfaith dialogues” both in the U.S. and worldwide. Work with Jewish groups is a high priority too, he said.
• Eight of the 35 pastors who graduated from the former Augustana Lutheran Seminary, Rock Island, Ill.
, 60 years ago held a reunion at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minn., in July. Fifteen of the 35 have died, and nine widows and pastors’ wives joined the reunion gathering. Richard H. Bliese, president of Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn., spoke to the group. The 35 pastors have served in the U.S., Canada, Sweden, Tanzania, Borneo, Malaysia and Singapore.
• Collaborating with other congregations and organizations, St. Paul Lutheran, Ironton, Ohio
, in August hosted a “Tools for Schools” give-away program to students in need. The Appalachian community has 23.1 percent of its population living below the poverty line, reported The Ironton Tribune. The program distributes backpacks filled with school supplies to students and new books to younger children.
• As a result of their 2006 Souper Bowl of Caring
efforts, ELCA youth groups reported donating more than $725,000 for hunger-related charities throughout the country and the world. Each youth group decides where to donate its collections, and several contribute to the ELCA World Hunger Appeal. More than 2,000 Lutheran groups have registered to participate in the 2007 event, said Kathryn Sime, director of the World Hunger Appeal. Asking for only $1 on one day, on or near Super Bowl Sunday, the Souper Bowl of Caring events encourage people of all ages to give.