The 2007 ELCA Churchwide Assembly approved a resolution asking ELCA congregations and church agencies to provide a “welcoming and supporting environment for returning military veterans.” The resolution also calls on bishops to work with military chaplains on additional ways to provide “healing ministries to military veterans and their families.” The action came from a St. Paul Area Synod proposal suggesting that churches provide additional information about the moral and spiritual needs of returning military personnel and their families, that pastors educate their parishioners on the issues veterans face and that congregations provide special care for families of military personnel. Several ELCA congregations take that seriously, including one in Ohio, as Michael Myers relates:
I was a member of the U.S. Army. I was in the Reserves working in communications for various units. In 2003 I was with a medical group that was the command and control organization for several Army hospitals and other medical units. I was mobilized in April 2003. My local unit didn’t get mobilized—just me. I was called by the 3rd Medical Command in Georgia. The soldier who previously held that position retired and his replacement wasn’t due to arrive for nearly nine months.
While I was mobilized our congregation, Epiphany Lutheran in Pickerington, Ohio, checked in on my family from time to time. Mostly it was individuals from our congregation who took the time to say “hi” and see if there was anything the family needed. I made it home periodically during that year of separation, but it was the friends from church who seemed to have the larger impact, especially on my children. My daughter and son were always welcomed. And they were allowed to share their feelings about the separation and their fears when I did go overseas.
Because they grew up seeing me in the military, my children looked at it as a positive thing and as an option for their futures. I never directed any of them to join. Each person has to find their own path. After high school, my daughter struggled with her future. She knew she wasn’t going to college. She doesn’t learn that way, sitting in a class. She worked full time and investigated some nursing schools and other medical training. She then decided to join the U.S. Army and let them train her in the medical field.
My daughter is now assigned to the 86th Army Combat Support Hospital headquartered at Fort Campbell, Ky. They are deployed to Baghdad, Iraq. She is currently working with the hospital headquarters after serving about two months as a nutrition specialist, ensuring the patients get the right diet for their medical condition and food/drug allergies.
Our congregation has a list of members serving in the military and keeps their addresses on file so anyone can write or send a package. As my family has grown and continues with the circle of life, the visits, prayers and words of support from our congregation at Epiphany seem to continue more than ever before.
Check out this week's articles:
The dance to end hunger: (right) This Pennsylvania pastor can teach you to tango.
From Gutenberg to Google: Church publishers face many challenges.
It's 'Uncle Earl' now: In Banner Elk, N.C., only some of the names have changed.
Forgiveness no accident: Family finds blessings during recovery.
Also: Filling the barnyard.
Also: The modern church.
Also: Race and justice.Tell us: Does size matter?
You’re invited to contribute to a future story about how ministries differ in large, medium and small congregations. • What are the gifts and liabilities of a congregation’s size? Send your response (no more than 500 words) to any or all of the above questions to email@example.com or by mail to Julie B. Sevig at The Lutheran, 8765 W. Higgins Rd., Chicago, IL 60631. Deadline is Nov. 21.
• What size do you prefer and why?
• What ministry is possible (and no doubt wonderful) simply because of your congregation’s size?
You’re invited to contribute to a future story about how ministries differ in large, medium and small congregations.
• What are the gifts and liabilities of a congregation’s size?
Send your response (no more than 500 words) to any or all of the above questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to Julie B. Sevig at The Lutheran, 8765 W. Higgins Rd., Chicago, IL 60631. Deadline is Nov. 21.
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