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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Backyard & beyond

Samuel Service helps young people discern, discover, serve

"God was using the telephone pole.”

This was one teenager’s observation when asked how God was at work during a community’s bitter argument over the war in Iraq.

The telephone pole had become the neighborhood kiosk, where residents posted their opinions and rebuttals. Authorities saw the pole-posting as a nuisance and posted their own sign—an ordinance that banned posting things to the pole. But the teenager saw the pole differently: a type of cross upon which people could nail their fears, anxieties, anger and hate. The pole and God were both strong enough to bear this weight.

The teenager, Emmanuel Livingstone, was part of the Samuel Service Project, a service-learning partnership of Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn.; Augsburg College, Minneapolis; and Lutheran Youth Networking in Christ, a joint ministry of the St. Paul Area and Minneapolis Area synods. It was funded by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.

Youth and adults from rural, suburban and urban congregations in the two synods gathered under the Samuel Service Project for three years—all on their way to creating their own local service-learning project. Their three years were spent following three steps: discernment, discovery and service.


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