The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Caring for the military

Across the ELCA, they 'need our support'

They'd just buried their 23-year-old son, Damon. Richard and Patricia Winkleman then prepared to attend a funeral for one of his comrades, also killed in Afghanistan. After driving 10 hours that night, they arrived with food and other donations from their congregation, St. John Lutheran, Lakeville (McZena), Ohio.

Mike  Elicson<BR><BR>A photo and flag
A photo and flag rest at the grave of Damon Winkleman. The Army combat medic and member of St. John Lutheran Church, Lakeville, Ohio, was killed in action in September 2009.
"It made quite an impact that we would leave immediately after our son's funeral and drive all night to attend their son's funeral the next morning," said Damon's father, Sgt. Maj. Richard Winkleman, 300th Military Police Brigade. "We took the blessings we received and immediately passed them on to the other soldier's family."

And the blessings the Winklemans received from St. John came in innumerable ways.

News of Damon's death last September spread quickly throughout their rural community. St. John's members immediately put the family on the prayer chain. Within an hour, Winkleman said 60 percent of the congregation had arrived at their door. Over the next few days, parishioners rotated — talking, praying and crying with the family. They also greeted visitors, answered the phone, cleaned and prepared meals.

"They insisted that we do nothing so we could sit and talk with visitors," Winkleman said. "It was a continuous banquet for days. The congregation made sure we were taken care of."

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February issue


Embracing diversity