For more information or to submit a story about how your congregation is “Doing God’s Work, with Our Hands and making a difference in the world,” contact Claudia Harrington!
If you might like to be involved with Mission Interpretation, here are the qualifications:
Congregations in a Covenant Relationship with Missionary
As of February 2013 several congregations of our DE-MD Synod have made a covenant commitment of support for missionary, Barbara Robertson. A covenant commitment involves mutual prayer, communication and financial gifts. With the support of congregations and individuals, Barbara has been able to work in Tanzania long enough to see that her AIDS prevention program is making a difference. Our support is vitally important to the missionaries who serve. Did you know that in 2012, 118 adults began service as new ELCA missionaries? This is a recent record! Support is needed for 25 of these adults. Thank you to the following congregations for their covenant commitment to Barbara: Grace Lutheran Church, Westminster; St. Benjamin Lutheran Church, Westminster; St. Mary’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Westminster; St. Paul Lutheran Church, Frostburg; St. Paul Lutheran Church, Baltimore; St. Paul Utica Lutheran Church, Thurmont; St. Peter Lutheran Church, Clear Spring; and The Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, Bel Air. Did you know that you can support a missionary for as little as $25 (see the ELCA Good Gifts catalog)? To find out more about how you can help those serving the global church, check www.ELCA.org/missionarysponsorship or call 800-638-3522, ext. 2657.
Congregations Join Together in Ministry
This story is submitted by Rev. Chris Litton of the Israel’s Creek Lutheran Parish. In the spring of 2012, our Women of the ELCA congregational unit, known as the “Israel Lights” of Israel’s Creek Lutheran Parish in Woodsboro, Maryland were discussing how they might help with basic needs. The elementary school had a “caring closet” which provided families with basic staples such as paper products, hygiene items, and home cleaning supplies. In May the Israel Lights began collecting the items and delivered them to the school. This program provided an opportunity for me to meet with the school principal and staff to learn more about the issue of poverty in the school. Our conversation began with introductions and quickly turned into a learning lesson for this first call pastor. The lesson was that poverty is all around and does not discriminate based on location. There are people living in poverty who “appear” to own the land, when in fact, they are tenants and renters. We know families are struggling to make ends meet in every walk of life, but this was in our community. Our conversation resulted in the agreement to meet again and answer the question, “What can we do?” As we delivered more goods to the school each week, the conversation kept going. After being inspired at the 2012 Synod Assembly, we met with school staff and determined that our parish could feed families once a month. In June 2012 we served the first meal to one family. Once a month we serve a meal and have an activity for students and parents. Planning of these meals and activities involves school staff and members of the congregation. The number of families continues to increase. We have been amazed at what God has provided through this ministry. Two other local ELCA congregations: Grace Lutheran Church, Woodsboro, MD, served by interim pastor The Rev. Gordon Narvesen, and Mt. Zion Lutheran Church, Ladiesburg, MD, served by The Rev. Dr. Michelle Holley Carlson have joined in this ministry. We have discovered the spirit of generosity in area restaurants and stores. One area restaurant provided one full meal and stores have donated food as well as basic household items, which is where this ministry began. We have been transformed by the building of relationships. Many of our volunteers have stated that seeing the smiles of the children lets them know that God’s hand was in this vision for ministry. One additional benefit of this ministry is the opportunity for parents to gather in a welcoming, safe place, to receive ongoing support, and pastoral counseling. We give thanks for God’s blessings and give praise in sharing these blessings.
Do We Make a Difference in Seminary Support? You Bet!
This story comes from Ruth Foster, a student at The Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg. “As a student who receives scholarships in order to attend seminary, I can attest to the fact that your gift is a strong investment in the future. Were it not for your gift and the gifts of those like you, I am not sure I would be at seminary at this time. Aware of the debt load I could incur by attending seminary, I feel very fortunate that Gettysburg Seminary had the resources available from gifts, given by people like you, to offer me a full academic scholarship. I received four other offers from theological schools around the country, two of our ELCA seminaries, Princeton and Yale. The ability to avoid excessive financial burden and receive a first class education moved me to attend Gettysburg Seminary. With an increasing number of congregations unable to pay a full time salary, future leaders face a dilemma: accept a call because it is the best fit for the seminarian’s gifts or because it pays enough to make loan payments. No pastor wants to turn down a chance at fruitful ministry simply because they owe money on their loans.” Our DE-MD Synod is a partner in ministry with Gettysburg Seminary. Our synod mission support helps the seminary retain and attract highly qualified instructors, expand course offerings, and offer continuing education opportunities to both clergy and laity. The money that you give in mission support is a good way to invest in the future. The seminary will be able to prepare qualified candidates for ministry, and congregations in our synod call many Gettysburg seminarians to serve in ministry together. The scholarship fund is another way to be in partnership. Thank you for making mission support possible.
Living Grace Lutheran Church is one of our DE-MD Synod’s mission congregations, which receives support from our ELCA and our synod. Assistant to the Bishop, Kati Kluckman-Ault, serves as our synod’s Developer for Evangelical Mission, and her salary is paid by the ELCA. This is how a portion of the offering that our synod sends to the Churchwide ELCA comes back to help increase opportunities for mission and ministry in the DE-MD Synod. Pastor Dave Albertson shares this story of how a ramp became a blessing to all involved. “Last October we planned a work day for the youth of our congregation to help out a couple of our older members, who needed some basic work done (stuff like tree removal, landscaping, clean-up, etc.) We announced to the congregation that this was going on, and that if people had other projects, to let us know. That’s how we got connected to a woman living in a rural area nearby, who is fighting cancer which is eating away her muscles, skin, and internal organs. This woman’s latest enemy is a tumor that is putting outward pressure on her sternum. She’s only about forty and has no ability to care for her kids, walk around the house, or much of anything. When she had to go outside, she needed her entire wheelchair to be carried, and it’s a beast! She could hardly go anywhere or do anything. So, we hear about this situation, and we realize that we’ve taken youth to work camps for years, and that we could partner with a Frederick organization called Rebuilding Together to construct a ramp. Roger Randall, our go to person for these kinds of projects, scoped out the project, drafted plans, recruited volunteers, and then our congregation picked up the cost of materials and invited participants to come out and build a ramp. Thirty people showed up with picks, post-hole diggers, drills, tools, and a lot of love. We built about a forty foot ramp in a day and a half. Not only was it a great experience for us to be out serving someone we didn’t know, but like us, is fragile. But also, the woman for whom we built the ramp, could hardly express her gratitude. The thing she wanted to do: roll out onto the porch, look at the rolling fields, and find some inner peace. Pretty amazing the blend of physical and the spiritual…all in a ramp.”
Christ Lutheran Church in Catonsville, MD had been struggling with decline for about 10 years when in 2011 the church decided it needed a new vision. It applied for and received a grant from the ELCA churchwide organization and is now undergoing redevelopment, a path of renewal in which a new pastor is called to radically change the congregation’s identity and focus. A congregation needs to identify that things are not the way they want them to be and are willing to explore new ways to do ministry. At Christ Lutheran the biggest boost came from increasing community involvement, developing Bible study groups and reaching out to youth with programming, said Ken Powell, a former Army major who was called as vicar to lead the redevelopment. In November 2012, 21 months into the process, Christ’s giving and attendance had doubled from what they were two years prior. “We have done some remarkable things here as a church. We really are believing in our ability to recover and renew,” said Cindy Redman, congregational council president and a charter member. This story is part of a feature article in the January issue of The Lutheran magazine.
Lutheran Cooperative Helps Grow Hope Alive’s Solar Power
This story comes from an article written by Nicholas Stern for the Frederick News-Post. Hope Alive Inc., a nondenominational Christian ministry that serves homeless women and children, was in need of having 20 solar panels installed to reduce energy costs. The Rev. John Greenstone, of Elias Lutheran Church in Emmitsburg, along with his counterparts at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Thurmont and St. John Lutheran Church in Fairfield, PA, had formed a partnership about a year ago called the Catoctin Mission Cooperative and were looking for a project on which to collaborate. They heard about Hope Alive, had a dinner at the ministry and learned that the solar panels had been donated but were lying around. We thought, “That would be an amazing project to accomplish, especially reducing the ministry’s electric bill.” Greenstone had worked on a solar panel project at Mother Seton School in Emmitsburg, MD about two years ago with Jerry Schwartz, a Taneytown resident and environmental engineer who retired from the Federal Aviation Administration. Schwartz joined the Catoctin Mission Cooperative to offer help with getting permits, tax incentives for using solar energy, and the construction itself. Hope Alive is now signed up to receive Maryland’s Solar Renewable Energy Certificates. These certificates enable the ministry to sell through a broker its solar energy production to energy companies. Greenstone said though members of the Catoctin Mission Cooperative are used to hands-on, hammer-and-saw sort of projects, most of the work for the solar panel project will be done by a contractor, as the panels will be set up as a ground array. Even though the solar panel installation will not eliminate all of Hope Alive’s energy costs, the project will serve as a model of sustainability and good stewardship of God’s creation for the residents of the facility. The long-term vision and action of the project also fits well with the sort of works the Lutheran Church typically supports, Greenstone said.
ELCA Disaster Response begins relief efforts after Hurricane Sandy
Our ELCA is already responding to relief efforts in the Caribbean, especially in Cuba and Haiti, where flooding destroyed roads, homes, and farmland. “In the face of this horrific storm, the church is present in the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean for relief, to rebuild, and to renew the lives of those who have stood in the path of destruction,” said the Rev. Daniel Rift, director of ELCA World Hunger and Disaster Appeal. “The church’s work in these times benefit from our experience in disaster response, having already been present and prepared,” said Rift. “Gifts given previously to ELCA Disaster Response enabled us to support the prepositioning of supplies in the Caribbean. That means we are already at work bringing aid.” In hard-hit New Jersey, the Rev. Roy Riley, bishop of the New Jersey Synod, was optimistic. “We were blessed to have the weekend for families and communities to make preparations. In our congregation, there were reminders on Sunday to remember the most vulnerable and check in with them before and during the storm. In the past few years this synod’s congregations have sent response teams to the US Gulf Coast, Upstate New York, and places closer to home. We should know the drill by now. Nevertheless, we are hoping for the best possible outcome but recognizing the significant challenges that lie ahead,” Riley stated. The ELCA has a long history of responding quickly and generously to natural disasters. You may designate your gift for the work in the Caribbean, United States, or where needed most. Don’t forget that 100% of all gifts designated for the Hurricane Sandy Response will be directed for the response.
Trinity Lutheran Church in Hagerstown, MD, in the process of healing and looking to the future, was able to offer a gift to members of the congregation and the community. Trinity offered a series of Community Healing Forums. “As we continue to heal and grow, we will provide opportunities to work through grief, to heal, to renew our faith, and to refocus on the future.” The first forum, What the Bible says about Suicide, was a Bible study led by the Rev. Dr. David Oravec, interim pastor at Trinity. The second forum, Suicide Survivors, was led by Dr. Eileen Stanzione, LCSW – C PH.D; and the third forum, Understanding and Coping with Depression in the Congregation and in Ministry, was led by Dr. James K. Childerston, PH.D, ABMP. The average attendance for the forums was 59. Some of the comments by participants were the appreciation of the openness in sharing stories and the helpful information. “Thanks for putting this together and especially inviting the community to attend.” “Thank you for offering this beautiful ministry – it is much needed.” In addition, eight thank you notes were received from UMC pastors. There will also be a related seminar at the Robinwood Medical Center Auditorium, Hagerstown, MD on Wednesday, October 31st from 8:30-4:00. The seminar is “Answering the Call – Losing the Connection” Clergy Stress, Burn-out, and Self-Care for clergy, church leaders, and parish nurses. Thank you Trinity Lutheran Church for the blessing you gave to the community.
We’re Praying for You – taken from the DE-MD Synod supplement to The Lutheran, Sept. 2012
The outreach team at Our Saviour Lutheran Church, Lansdowne, MD wondered how to reach out to the community when most of the residents don’t attend church. After brainstorming ideas, the team decided to offer a community “prayer wall.” “It started out as a 40-day experiment,” said the Rev. Kristi Kunkel. “We put up a piece of wood and some Sharpie markers. We created a virtual prayer wall on Facebook where people could write their prayers. Then we prayed. We didn’t know what to expect. We were worried about whether there would be graffiti.” But the prayer wall has not been vandalized. The response was more than the congregation could have imagined. The Facebook page exploded with posts. People started writing on the physical and digital walls. The response was so positive that a permanent prayer wall has been mounted in front of the building. There are prayers written by children, prayers of grief and fear, and prayers of thanks.
“We are overwhelmed and so thankful to have this way of praying specifically for the real need s of people in this community,” Kunkel said. The prayer ministry expanded this summer to invite members to pray at the wall on Wednesdays. Pastor Kunkel also welcomes the congregation to join her at 7 AM on Wednesday to pray. “We want it to be visible that we are praying,” she said. “We want to be sure the community sees that we are taking this seriously, that they know we care about them – and so does God.
Piecemaker Quilters Inspired by Mission
Keysville Evangelical Lutheran Church is the gathering place for the Piecemaker Quilters. The group formed after Sue Ketron read a magazine article about Quilts of Valor, a national foundation of volunteers who make and donate patriotic quilts to military service members whose lives have been touched by war. Ms. Ketron posted flyers at The National Museum of Civil War Medicine and Sisto’s Sewing and Quilting Studio in an effort to find interested women who wanted to quilt with a purpose. The group of quilters started meeting weekly at Sisto’s, but had to find a new home when Sisto’s closed this spring. They recently resumed their weekly sessions at the Keysville Evangelical Lutheran Church. Ms. Ketron also read about a Civil War-era group that used to gather weekly at the same hour. “A hundred and fifty years later, that’s what we are doing,” Ketron said. The group feels a sense of satisfaction in taking fabric that was scrap and creating something completely new. The group hopes to take its completed quilts to Walter Reed near Veteran’s Day. Keysville Evangelical Lutheran Church is providing space for ministry and outreach, as many of the quilters come from outside the community.
Sarah Lefler sends this story about the importance of the summer camping experience. Summer Camp is a haven for many. At Mar Lu Ridge, our campers range in age from 6 – 88! We offer small group camping experiences led by enthusiastic, faith – filled staff, which change life for the better. Our ministry in 52 years strong, and this summer we are once again touching the lives of 650 people. Many different opportunities to challenge individuals happen during camp. Perhaps a child finds their inner strength by conquering a fear on our zip line or rock climbing course. Maybe the time spent in Bible study leads to a decision to be baptized (happening this week!), or a trip down the river bonds a group with a unique story of teamwork and friendship. Our staff, including myself, will attest to the fact that Mar Lu Ridge is a sanctuary. God is at work in the lives and hearts of all who spend time on The Ridge – and we are then sent to share that amazing, unconditional love with others through our daily lives. When we sit on Shock Rock and feel the power of the wind, or sing and dance during worship in the Chapel, it is clear that the Spirit is among us. A young family camper recently told me that he had never experienced anything so wonderful in his life – he felt truly accepted, challenged, and loved.
Carroll Lutheran School is truly an asset to both the Westminster Conference and the DE-MD Synod. From humble beginnings as a K-3 school with 38 students, to expansion as a K-8 school with 126 students in 2012, CLS is proof that a vision can become a reality. The school’s mission statement is very evident when you enter the building. “We, as disciples of Jesus Christ, will create a quality education in a Lutheran environment where the love of Christ will be proclaimed through the integration of faith and life.” As you enter the front door and head to the office area, you are greeted by a large mural of Jesus welcoming the children. This painting is a visual reminder of CLS’s purpose and mission. CLS is truly a warm, welcoming place.
Carroll Lutheran School follows the Carroll County Public School curriculum and incorporates religious education. Chapel is held every week, and pastors of enrolled students lead the chapel services. Older students buddy with younger students to share this special time. CLS serves a diverse population which includes Lutheran, other Christian denominations, as well as non-denominational students. The staff has found that the school brings parents to church. Families have found that in times of crisis the school staff pulls together to help out. Students are involved with community service projects throughout the school year. CLS has a special relationship with Carroll Lutheran Village and perform a concert with the Never Too Late band.
The staff at CLS tries to make school an extended part of the family. Students feel comfortable and valued. A current fourth grade boy was having a bad morning. Nothing at home was going right on this particular day. On the ride to school, when asked if there would be a problem at school, the student responded, “When I get to school and see Mr. Jones, the principal, at the front door, and he calls me by name and says “hi,” I know everything will be okay.” This is just one example of the difference CLS is making in the lives of children.
As tuition does not cover all of the costs of operating the school, CLS relies on donors to help the school break even. If you would like to make a donation, contact Lexi Schafer, 1738 Old Taneytown Road, Westminster, MD 21157.
Jean Warren sends this story from Lutheran Community Services. Barbara W. approached us last spring seeking assistance with a security deposit to move into Luther Towers ‘ Assisted Living Program. Program Director Sandy Betley met with her and found her to be somewhat confused and seemingly depressed. At that time, Barbara was living with her nephew and his wife and was sleeping on their couch. Her nephew explained that she had been diagnosed with the beginning stages of dementia. Barbara received security deposit assistance from us and moved into Luther Towers, Several months later, Sandy met with her again – coincidentally – to give her a ride to her doctor’s appointment as part of the LCS LIFT program. Sandy said she was amazed at the change. Barbara was upbeat and animated as she describes how she keeps herself busy at Luther Towers. She has a dog that she walks several times a day, and she volunteers at the gift shop and the front desk. She stated that she is so happy to be living at Luther Towers in the Assisted Living Program because they help to monitor her medication and her health and are all set up for her if her dementia worsens. Stories like these warm our hearts and remind us how important our work with seniors is.
Observe World Malaria Day on April 29th
Did you know that in Africa Malaria kills more people than war? Did you know that a child dies from Malaria every 45 seconds? Most of these deaths are children under the age of 5. For most of us mosquitoes are a nuisance, but in Africa mosquitoes carry a parasite that enters the body and kills blood cells. What starts out as flu-like symptoms can quickly lead to death. This is especially true in times of drought when communities are hungry and immunity is low. Our companion synod churches are helping to coordinate training in prevention and treatment of Malaria. Bishop BVUMBWE of Malawi shares this, “The ELCA is our trusted brother and sister. Wherever we have journeyed together, Christ has journeyed with us.” In Africa Lutheran churches are not just places of worship, but community centers where people gather. These provide an opportunity for learning about prevention and get treatment for the disease. World Malaria Day is April 25th, but your congregation may consider observing it on April 29th. Join hands with 11 African companion churches in the global effort to prevent, treat, and contain Malaria.
A new ministry helps provide household items and repairs for neighbors of the Feagaville Lutheran parish. Pastor Kenneth Gill has been seeking ways to reach out to the community. The new ministry has a two pronged emphasis: one called Neighbor to Neighbor will provide clothing and household goods to needy families, while the second, Hearts and Hammers, will provide minor home repairs for people who need them but can’t afford them. Pastor Gill states that stepping out into the community to help people is a good way for parishioners of St. Luke and Mt. Zion to share their faith. Of the 80 adult members of the Feagaville parish, 50 are participating in the ministries. “Hopefully, people will find this a fulfilling thing. There’s really just a lot of need in the area,” said Pastor Gill.
This story comes from Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries. What a difference Diakon made in Sheldon Fees’ life. In Sheldon’s words… “After my mother died, my father must have been overwhelmed. Childcare was not something normally performed by men in the spring of 1941, and in my father’s case he abandoned his responsibilities, which were assumed by my great-grandfather. In a few short months before his death, my great-grandfather buried his granddaughter (my mother), saw to my baptism, and made arrangements for my admittance to The Lutheran Home at Topton. I received love and care when I needed it most.” This is Diakon’s mission of love and caring.
Big Hearts Gathered to send Christmas Cheer
This ministry story is shared by Bethany Lutheran Church in Brunswick, MD. Big hearts, willing hands, and some creativity from members of Bethany Lutheran Church in Brunswick ensure that soldiers in Afghanistan will experience the joys of Christmas. Soldiers deployed there will receive Christmas gifts, cards and notes that will make the season bright even in the midst of war, courtesy of this small congregation. Every year at Christmas, as well as other times, the members of Bethany send packages to deployed soldiers. Wrapped boxes are filled with candies, toys, reading material, toiletries and Christmas decorations. Each package also contains Christmas cards with notes of thanks, as well as special cards and pictures made by children to let their heroes know they matter. Each year, church members pray it will be the last Christmas a shipment will be needed. This year, Bethany’s Soldier Christmas project surpassed its goal of 50 Christmas packages, and also filled an assortment of goodies to be distributed by an officer to any soldier in need of a spiritual lift. Most members of the congregation are involved, as people purchase and donate items and write cards for weeks leading up to the Nov. 20th pack-up. “This activity reveals the best of this congregation: extraordinary caring, joyful fellowship and generous giving,” said Pastor Andrea Ernest. “The only thing better for the Christmas spirit than this loving project, would be having no soldiers in harm’s way. We keep praying for peace for all.”
Did you know that a simple water well can transform the life of a community? Here is the story of Hawa and her village. In the town of Geles in Sudan, a girl named Hawa and her friends had to walk to a village well every morning, fill their water jugs, and then carry the water home in time to go to school. But people began fleeing the civil war and took refuge near the village. More and more people were in need of fresh water, and the well was the nearest source. As people lined up to fill jugs and wait for a turn at the pump, Hawa and her friends found that they could not bring water back to their families and go to school. Now thanks to the generosity of people like you, Hawa and her friends are able to fetch water and attend school. New wells have been dug in the countryside and in the village. Thanks to people like you, ELCA World Hunger has been able to make an amazing difference for Hawa and her neighbors. Every dollar that you contribute toward water projects actually yields up to $34 in value to the community.
Pastor Gerry Rickel shares this story from the Community of St. Dysmas. One of the women who attended a recent worship service told of the difference the congregation has made in her life. The woman had been in solitary confinement for two months. She made productive use of her time by reading through the Bible twice and studying Luther’s Small Catechism, memorizing many portions. Following her release from confinement, she asked to be baptized. She has asked Pastor Rickel to help her get an interview at a Roman Catholic Home, Marian House, in Baltimore City. She realizes that she needs to be with Christians in community. She cannot return to her old community, because it is too easy to fall back into bad habits and old ways. Our prison ministry is making a difference and transforming lives. Please pray for Pastor Rickel and the men and women who worship behind bars.
Mission Moment: Thoughts on Co-Pastoring in Mt. Airy
The Revs. Anke and Eric Deibler recently became co-pastors at Calvary Evangelical Lutheran Church in Mt. Airy. They were ordained together in 1994 and have been co-pastoring for 17 years. With Calvary offering both a contemporary and traditional service, the Deiblers plan to alternate preaching each week and in the future share their musical gifts. Anke says that she is more story-oriented in her preaching, while Eric likes to focus on spirituality and faith formation. “Past congregations have said they like that it’s not the same old, same old every week,” Anke said. “The congregations really like the change and the variety.” The Deiblers received help when 17 members of Calvary met the moving truck and helped to move in belongings. “They’ve been so welcoming, it’s been a joy,” she said.
Here is the story of Faith Kajwiria, a social worker for the ACT Alliance in the Dadaab refugee complex in northwestern Kenya. Faith’s day begins at 5:00 in the morning as she tries to visit as many of the elderly as possible. Faith has worked in the Lutheran World Federation managed refugee camp for two years.
“At a recent leaders meeting I was described as the one who decorates the camp with white flowers – meaning all the tents that I have distributed.” Faith describes her work as not just about distributing goods. It is about giving moral support. “These people need a lot of support, but we do not always have a lot of things to give them. Just going to see them, talking to them, and seeing how they live means a lot. Sometimes if you can do something small for them, they make you feel as though you have conquered the whole situation. And when people are happy, I am happy.” The Lutheran World Federation is a member of ACT Alliance, churches and organizations working together. You make this kind of ministry possible.
Jean Warren shares a story from Lutheran Community Services. In early February, a pregnant young woman who was applying for housing assistance began to have contractions. She’d never had a baby before and was unmarried, so she was scared and asked some of the women in the office if what she thought was happening actually was. But she didn’t want to stop the application process. That’s how desperate she was. An hour later she was on the floor, and the contractions were much stronger. Then they were two minutes apart. The EMS team was called and an ambulance whisked her away to the hospital. Program Director Sandy Betley followed up with her to finalize the application. This was not a typical day at LCS!
This month’s story is taken from an article by Charles Austin.
Veterans Help Former Foe: Two World War II veterans, Ebb Culp and Shelton Rimer, have changed their war-time mindset of seeing Japan as an enemy to a neighbor in need. Both men served in the Pacific in the last year of the war. When the earthquake and tsunami struck Japan and the Pacific Rim in March 2011, something Christian and compassionate made the two veterans want to respond to the survivors in Japan. Both Ebb an d Shelton became generous contributors to the ELCA Disaster Response fund. They are members of Lutheran Church of Our Savior, in the South Carolina Synod, which is a companion synod to the Japan Evangelical Lutheran Church. For Shelton and his wife, Dorothy, giving generously to the ELCA is a natural thing to do. “We’ve been blessed,” Dorothy says, “and we have received, so we give. I don’t know any other way to put it. We give with our love to the church.”
Deaconess Jean Warren is sharing this story from Lutheran Community Services in Delaware.
What’s it Like to be Evicted? One day last month a local family was evicted by the Sheriff. They had come to LCS a few weeks before, and we made a commitment of $1,500 to help them with their rent. The total amount they owed was somewhat more, so they were contacting other agencies – and dealing with their many other problems. But now, they were out on the street, suddenly homeless, with a padlock on the door. They returned to LCS. Program Director Sandy Betley went to work, documenting that all the pieces of the financial puzzle were in place. Then she contacted the landlord, who lifted the eviction order and told the family that it was okay to return to their home. We wish all our cases had a happy ending like this!
As we celebrate our independence, please keep in mind another country about to become independent. On Saturday, July 9, South Sudan will become an independent nation. Please pray for peace and safety for these children of God, as reports of violence increase.
For most major newspapers, the flooding in Minot, North Dakota, is no longer front page news, but for the ELCA, response has been quick and assessment of ongoing needs continues. ELCA Disaster Response has committed to providing two staff positions to Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota to aid in the recovery. Also, emergency grants totaling $25,000 to LSS and the ELCA Western North Dakota Synod, Bismarck have been received. Several congregations have been impacted by the flood waters. Both Augustana Lutheran Church and Christ Lutheran Church in Minot are flooded. First Lutheran Church, Minot has some water in the basement, while Peace Lutheran Church in nearby Burlington has about six feet of water in the basement. There will be economic difficulties throughout the synod due to loss of property and loss of farm crops. Pastors and members of the congregations have been able to keep in touch via Facebook. Congregations are partnering and members of the Western North Dakota Synod have helped by providing food, blankets, and other supplies. “It’s definitely a family of brothers and sisters in Christ, across all views, thoughts, and beliefs coming together in this crisis,” says Pastor Michon Weingartner, Augustana Lutheran Church. You can help with a donation to ELCA Disaster Response.Barbara Robertson is an ELCA missionary in Morogoro, Tanzania. She is receiving some missionary support through some individuals and congregations in the DE-MD Synod. Here is Barbara’s story. “It was my great privilege to spend a morning with a group of young men I fondly refer to as my garage boys. Over the years, I have come to know quite a few of these young men and have watched them grow and mature. Because I had done an HIV and AIDS seminar before, the older fellows have hounded me to have another session for the new boys, who have joined the garage. Seventy men attended the session! The main themes were ‘have long – term goals, be responsible, and get tested.’ Joseph, the owner of the garage, told me, ‘It matters that you come. They have changed because of you.’ And I’ve changed because of them. How honored I am that they should listen to what I have to say.”
Did you know… You can be a sponsor for Dr. Derrick Matthews who serves at Arusha Lutheran Medical Centre and Selian Lutheran Hospital in Tanzania. Help to minimize his travel time and maximize his effectiveness while he is on home leave. Visit www.elca.org/missionarysponsorship/ or call 800-638-3522, ext. 2657.
Pastor Andrea Ernest, Bethany Lutheran Church in Brunswick, MD, was elected president of BEACON (Brunswick Ecumenical Assistance Committee on Needs). BEACON volunteers share God’s love and make a difference in people’s lives by sponsoring a monthly pantry-on-the-go, a school supply drive, a senior community event, Thanksgiving baskets, community secret Santa program, and an emergency relief fund.
ELCA members have responded to the Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami by donating $750,000. Some of these funds help pay for an emergency response advisor to prepare a strategy to respond to church infrastructure damage, needed livelihood, and food relief. While other funds are helping the Japan Evangelical Lutheran Church and Church World Service distribute food and water to churches that are serving as shelter and evacuation sites. Rice, vegetable juice, water, instant soup, toilet paper, bananas, and Miso are being distributed. Continue to keep the people of Japan in your prayers.
One of the success stories from Haiti is a thriving coffee cooperative that was started years before the 2010 earthquake, through a gift from the ELCA World Hunger program. The cooperative is now a $1 million – per – year business. It employs 200 local women in the community and is part of the ELCA’s commitment to sustainable development.
Ten ELCA missionaries arrived safely in Istanbul, Turkey, on February 1, 2011. They had left Cairo, Egypt, on a chartered flight provided by the US Department of State. The missionaries were among hundreds of US citizens who were advised to leave the country amid the protests, some of them violent, against the government of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
One of the ELCA missionaries, Pastor Peter Johnson, is the pastor of St. Andrew’s United Church and the director of St. Andrew’s Refugee Services. Pastor Johnson’s mother, Mary Ann, had been visiting the family when the protests began. Peter was distressed when he learned that his mother would need to travel separately, and that he needed to leave her in the hands of a taxi driver who would take her to the terminal. The local taxi driver, who knew Pastor Johnson well, said, “Don’t worry, Peter. She is my mother now.” Peter responded, “I guess that makes us brothers.”
This is the story of 3 year-old Jauvalda Francique of Haiti. She is eager to start school in a new building in Leogane, Haiti. The building is designed to withstand earthquakes, floods, and hurricanes. With help from the ELCA Disaster Response, family and neighbors helped in the planning and construction of the new school. The children chose the colors, and the shutters were painted with words in Creole, French, English, and Finnish. The words represent the nationalities that were involved with the project. Jauvalda can’t wait to go to school. You made this new start possible.