The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


ELCA stands with those affected by storms

Severe weather causes destrution in South, Midwest

One block from their church's ruins, about 45 members of Christ Lutheran, Cullman, Ala., met for an informal candlelight worship service Sunday, May 1.

Without electricity or hymnals, they spoke worship responses as best they could from memory, said Darrel Peterson, assistant to the bishop of the Southeastern Synod.

"We sang a familiar hymn from their Easter Sunday's service, and we closed with 'Jesus Loves Me,' " said Peterson, who attended the service.

Sandra M. Niiler, interim pastor of the congregation, told those gathered that ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson had called her Thursday evening. He assured her that the people of Christ Lutheran were not alone.

The mood at the service was hopeful even though the April 27 tornado had reduced the church's walls and beams to rubble, depositing the sanctuary roof on top of its administration building.

Christ Lutheran Church, Cullman, Ala.,
Christ Lutheran Church, Cullman, Ala., is left in rubble after a tornado struck April 27. The church's sanctuary roof now rests on top of the administration building.

During the service, members shared stories. Christ's processional cross ended up in the yard of an Episcopal family, who recognized it as belonging to a liturgical church and returned it to the grateful Lutherans. A young couple planning to be wed June 11 at Christ said they'd find another site. Somehow the tornado left the organist's glasses and her cup of mints undisturbed near the organ bench.

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