• On the very road on which Community of Hope Lutheran, Macomb, Mich., hopes to one day build a church, members gave away 500 $5 gas cards to help individuals and families with the high cost of gasoline. Called “Gasapolooza,” the congregation gave away gas and washed some 100 cars as they lined up on 24 Mile Road.
• Steven E. Titus will resign as president of Midland Lutheran College, Fremont, Neb., at the end of the 2006-07 academic year. Titus, 42, became president of the college in 2002. Titus said he wants to have more time with his family and to serve higher education in broader and innovative ways.
• More than 200 worshipers gathered around U2 music and spiritual themes at First Lutheran Church, Strongsville, Ohio, when it hosted a “U2charist” Nov. 12. The worship form was pioneered in the Episcopal Church, said Chuck Knerem, one of the pastors. He believes his congregation is among the first of ELCA churches to offer a U2charist as outreach. The worship, “Tonight We Can Be As One ...,” featured a live band playing U2 music, candle-lighting and prayers for the poor, sick and disenfranchised, and eucharist. The liturgy was constructed around the spiritual and biblical messages of U2, and was followed by a coffeehouse and presentation on the ONE campaign. ONE is a coalition of 2 million people and more than 70 nonprofit, advocacy and humanitarian organizations fighting AIDS and poverty. The congregation will host another U2charist in February using the theme “In the Name of Love.”
• In October and November a documentary that follows 10 Midwestern teenagers as they attend their first overnight Bible camp for gay Christian youth made the rounds at film festivals nationwide. Camp Out features the ministry of the Naming Project, a faith-based youth group for all sexual and gender identities at Bethany Lutheran Church, Minneapolis. Camp Out was filmed primarily at Bay Lake Camp, an ELCA outdoor ministry in northern Minnesota. In it, the six boys and four girls struggle to be true to both their spirituality and their sexual identity. Camp Out won the 2006 Outfest Audience Award for Outstanding Documentary Feature, the Newfest Documentary Feature and the Showtime Vanguard Award.
• At First Lutheran Church, Blair, Neb., backyard farmers share their produce on Sunday mornings. Worshipers may take what they need: peas and beans, tomatoes, squash and sweet corn, pears and peaches, raspberries and melons, even bread and eggs. In return, they’re encouraged to make a donation to the ELCA World Hunger Appeal. The garden market begins with a Firstfruits dedication in June and ends with the first frost. This year the congregation sent $1,000 to the World Hunger Appeal.
• Baseball may be America’s favorite pastime, but it is a new sport for the children of Pedro Vicente Maldonado, Ecuador. Ten rural congregations across three Northeast Ohio counties (“Lutherans of Rural Area Congregations”) recently completed a service project that sent more than 500 pounds of baseball equipment and $1,000 to the children of Ecuador. The congregations supported the work of Peace Corps volunteer Erica Chapin, niece of St. John Lutheran, Lakeville (McZena), member Keith Reutter. Chapin worked in Ecuador for “Baseball for Ecuador’s Future” and established her own “Erica’s Kids” organization.
• After reading in The Lutheran ("Write … and hear this!," June 2006) about the writers’ group from Ascension Lutheran Church, Waukesha, Wis., Peace Lutheran Church, Grass Valley, Calif., started its own group. “Twenty people showed up and were enthusiastic about participating,” reported member Larry Heppe regarding their September organizational meeting. They formed two groups—morning and evening. Although most are retired, a high school boy who is home schooled also attends. “Most people are writing about childhood memories or early years of marriage, thinking of things their children and grandchildren may want to know,” he said.
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