• New Orleans will be the site of the 2009 ELCA Youth Gathering. The July 22-26 gathering, which will be one week, not two as in previous years, will focus on service and justice. Gathering staff say this event will look different as planning and programming incorporate the unique aspects of New Orleans and its changing reality post-hurricane.
• A member and office manager of First American Lutheran, Oconto, Wis., was killed June 15 when her husband entered the church and shot her and himself in an apparent suicide attempt. He survived and was at a Milwaukee hospital. Brenda Bradshaw, 43, her husband, Tim, and their two children lived blocks from the church. “Brenda should be there making coffee and telling us jokes about the weekend,” said intern Ann Klavano on June 18, three days after she heard the shooting and discovered the bodies. Brenda Bradshaw sang with the church’s praise band, was a member of Abigail Circle, served on the youth board, had been a counselor on five youth ministry mission trips, and helped lead a bread retreat at Crossways Bible Camp.
• Harold Usgaard, bishop of the Southeastern Minnesota Synod, asked for prayers and support for Root Prairie Lutheran Church, Fountain, Minn., which was vandalized May 27. Pews were thrown out of the balcony, paint spread on walls and religious images defaced. “The thought process of anyone who could do such a thing is beyond understanding,” Usgaard said. Root Prairie continued services and members of other area ELCA churches attended to show support.
• Windsor Heights Lutheran Church in a suburb of Des Moines, Iowa, promoted a special mission on its float for the local Fourth of July parade. The float, “Freedom from hunger!” was an outreach tool to collect items for the Des Moines Area Religious Council’s food pantry. Volunteers collected nonperishable food as they walked, biked or skated along the route.
• Thirty-eight volunteers from St. John Lutheran Church, San Juan, Texas, traveled to Reynosa, Mexico, in March to conduct health and vision assessments at Iglesia San Francisco Anglicana. Eighty-two people received a medical assessment by a nurse and were given complimentary vitamins, over-the-counter medications and referrals to doctors. Fifty-seven people received a vision assessment and complimentary glasses. All received prayer, the offer of a free Bible, a package of healthy snacks and a health kit. Funds were provided by individual donors and grants from Wheat Ridge Ministries and the Southwestern Texas Synod.
• Wayne Vrioni, a member of St. Olaf Lutheran Church, Minneapolis, is hiking the 2,174-mile Appalachian Trail to support the congregation’s inner-city youth ministry program. He began the six-month hike in April.
© 2014 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers