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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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May 16, 2013

ELCA member and Peace Corps volunteer dies in Ghana

dunlap
Danielle Dunlap

Danielle Dunlap, 25, a Peace Corps volunteer and member of Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Atlanta, died April 28 after becoming ill while serving in Krobo, Central Region, Ghana. The cause of death was later found to be malaria, a preventable, treatable disease for which the ELCA Malaria Campaign is raising $15 million by 2015.

This August, Dunlap would have completed her two-year stint as a health worker, focusing on community outreach in the areas of nutrition, HIV/AIDS, and malaria awareness and sanitation.

In a news release Carrie Hessler-Radelet, Peace Corps deputy director, said Dunlap was widely respected and “an exceptional role model [for youth in Jukwa Krobo]. The entire Peace Corps family is grieving over this tragic loss. During this difficult time, our thoughts and prayers are with Dani’s loved ones and her community both here and in Ghana.”

Dunlap successfully led an effort to raise funds and develop plans for a medical clinic currently under construction in the village where she served. Residents said the facility will be named in honor of Dunlap, a young woman with boundless energy and enthusiasm who loved to dance and was their “Mama Grace.” At a memorial service in Ghana, several young women performed a dance piece Dunlap had choreographed for them.

ELCA pastor Beverly Wallace preached at Dunlap’s funeral on May 11 at Emmanuel — about a decade after confirming her. “While my heart hurts, I smile when I think of Danielle,” said Wallace, who now serves as assistant professor and director of ministry and context at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta. “She was determined and committed. I am grateful that my former confirmation student made a difference in the world, even in her short life.”

Dunlap’s “legacy of service will indeed live on” at Mama Grace Hospital, she added.

Born in Nuremberg, Germany, Dunlap lived in several countries where her mother served as a diplomat with the U.S. State Department. In Haiti and South Korea, she learned Spanish and Korean. As a student at Brown University, Providence, R.I., she helped recruit other ethnic minority students, taught children with asthma to swim, and worked on sleep research projects. She graduated from Brown in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience, hoping to pursue a career in health care. She cared deeply about Christian missionary work, and at the time of her death had been accepted into a public health degree program at Emory University, Atlanta.

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December 25, 2012

Cokesbury follows Augsburg Fortress, shuts stores

The United Methodist Publishing House announced in November it will close its 38 brick and mortar Cokesbury stores and 19 seminary bookstores, driving all sales to its website, toll-free call center and church events (“resource fairs”). The closings will be completed by April 30 and affect 285 full- and part-time employees.

Neil Alexander, publishing house president, told the United Methodist Insight that 2012 fixed operating costs of Cokesbury retail stores were $2 million more than combined sales. He called the change “financially and practically necessary.”

In a statement the publisher said a survey found only 15 percent of customers shopped exclusively in stores. And a breakdown of the publisher’s $85 million revenue in the last fiscal year revealed that 30 percent came from store sales, 40 percent from the call center and events, 18 percent from online sales, and 12 percent wholesale to trade.

Alexander cited similar moves by Augsburg Fortress, Publishers, the ELCA publishing ministry, which in December closed its last U.S. retail store at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn. It was in 2008 that Augsburg Fortress eliminated its nine U.S. brick and mortar stores, moving to an online, call center and event sales model. Since those closings, Augsburg Fortress has not publically reported its sales data.

According to United Methodist Insight, the 2008 market downturn left the Methodist publisher’s staff pension account “underfunded and its board has adopted a seven-year plan to restore the fund’s assets.” Before 2008, the publisher gave the net income from Cokesbury to the United Methodist Church to help support clergy pensions and churchwide initiatives. Since 2008, the denomination’s pension board has not received funds from the publishing arm.

During the transition, called “CokesburyNext,” Alexander said the publishing house is working “to generate the required funds for capital investments in new technology, start-up costs for innovative publishing and sales programs, [and] funding for our staff pension and health benefit obligations.  … CokesburyNext is designed to assure a vibrant and financially viable Cokesbury future.”

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May 23, 2012

PLU women's softball team wins World Series

Pacific Lutheran University won the 2012 women's fast-pitch softball World Series May 18-21. Three ELCA schools — PLU, Tacoma, Wash.; Roanoke College, Salem, Va.; and Luther College, Decorah, Iowa — progressed to the NCAA Division III National Softball Championships, held at Moyer Stadium in Salem, Va.

Kaaren Hatlen, a women’s fast-pitch softball player at Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, Wash., swaps out for pinch runner, Spencer Sherwin. Hatlen is a member of First Lutheran Church in Bothell, Wash.
Kaaren Hatlen, a women's fast-pitch softball player at Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, Wash., swaps out for pinch runner, Spencer Sherwin. Hatlen is a member of First Lutheran Church in Bothell, Wash. 

It was the Lutes' first trip to the series since 2002, Roanoke's first trip since 2001, and the third consecutive appearance for Luther. PLU collected the championship trophy after shutting out Linfield College, McMinnville, Ore., 3-0. 

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