A visual tour of ELCA congregations, people and events.
Youth for food
Young people of St. John Lutheran Church, Little Suamico, Wis., recently participated in a pilot food drive using the ELCA World Hunger resource “Road Map to Food Drives: A By-Youth, For-Youth Guide to Feeding Communities.” “This has been a great way for them to bond and collaborate,” said Karie Wagner, youth coordinator and director of family ministry. “It has brought the group together and made it stronger.” The resource itself is an example of youth leadership at work — its authors, Maria Rose Belding and Tariro Makoni, were still in high school when they researched and wrote it with World Hunger. Belding, now a student at American Univeristy in Washington, D.C., traveled with World Hunger staff to be part of St. John’s event.
Participants Charis Wirtley (left) and Greta Schwandt transport food donated by drive-up donors into the church to be organized.
Maria Rose Belding counts donated cans of food at the food drive.
Karie Wagner (left), youth and family director at St. John Lutheran Church, Little Suamico, Wis., assists youth in putting up a sign for the food drive. Youth pictured are Alyssa Warren, Jesse Berg, Mathew Kutska and Jessica Slaby.
The drive provided strong service learning and leadership opportunities for youth at St. John Lutheran Church. For more information about organizing a food drive, order or download “Road Map to Food Drives: A By-Youth, For-Youth Guide to Feeding Communities” at www.elca.org/resources/elca-world-hunger (click on “Hunger ed”).
Garrett Wons (right) was one of the youth organizers.
The youth collected and sorted 866 pounds of food the day of their food drive.
Small but mighty
Descendants of a pre-Colombian indigenous group, the Kogi of Colombia have lived atop the world’s highest coastal range for millennia. Of the approximately 20,000 Kogi, nearly 200 are Christian. Others follow indigenous traditional religious practices. The Christian Kogi live on three contiguous farms, where they raise their own food and have their K-8 school. Their farms, purchased in part with grants from ELCA World Hunger, are fertile and productive. Companions from the ELCA and Colombia walk alongside the new church as it reaches out to provide health care and education. (Photos/Mary Campbell/ELCA)
One of several human rights workshops that were held in the Kogi community.
Bernabe, a third-grade boy, shows his homework.
Kogi Christian children share songs at school.
Margarita (no last name given), the kindergarten and first-grade teacher, stands in the doorway of her classroom. She is one of three teachers in the community.
The Christian Kogi live on a mountain range, and it can take two to five hours to walk to their community. This is a typical Kogi home.
Outside of Santa Marta, Colombia, a man walks across the footbridge to the path that will take him to the Kogi community, which isn’t accessible by car.
Summer at Luther Point Bible Camp
On June 14, Luther Point Bible Camp in Grantsburg, Wis., welcomed its first group of youngsters to camp. An association of 76 ELCA congregations in the Northwest Synod of Wisconsin, the Northeastern Minnesota, Minneapolis Area and Saint Paul Area Synods guide the work of the camp, which offers year-round outdoor ministries and retreats. Summer is an especially vibrant time at Luther Point: children in grades 1-12 — and families too — visit the camp for fun, Christ-centered activities, including games, worship, Bible study and more. (Photos/Luther Point Bible Camp)
Luther Point campers work on friendship bracelets together.
There are 36 young adults who serve as counselors at Luther Point. Being a counselor is tough work! It involves being a teacher, leader, mentor and sometimes, an entertainer.
Spending time being active and playing games outdoors is a big part of life at Luther Point.
Being at camp builds bonds of friendship that can last a lifetime.
Luther Point campers pray together.
Luther Point campers listen closely to a lesson.
10 under 40
These 10 young adults are among those leading the church and changing the world. Their profiles in the cover story of the June issue of The Lutheran magazine represent nearly 100 people under age 40 nominated by fellow church members for their leadership. They are artists and community activists, teachers and theologians, pastors and elected officials who are living and working in urban and rural settings throughout the country. These leaders are putting their ideas and words into action, actively responding to God’s call through their daily vocations. They are just a few of the many shaping our church now and for the future.
Liz Colver, 33, is a community organizing specialist with the ELCA Northwest Washington Synod in Seattle. (photo/Ben Vanhouten)
Mary Button, 31, is minister of the arts at First Congregational Church in Memphis, Tenn. (photo/The Commercial Appeal–Landov)
Joe Davis, 28, is poet-in-residence at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Minneapolis. (photo/Josh Collins)
Jonathan Hemphill, 35, is pastor at Another Level Ministries in Los Angeles. (photo/Angela Hemphill)
Steve Jerbi (center), 37, is pastor at All Peoples Church in Milwaukee. (photo/Joe Brusky Photography)
Kylie Oversen, 26, of Grand Forks, N.D. is a member of the North Dakota House of Representatives. (photo/ Sean Lee)
Rob Saler, 35, is the executive director of the Center for Pastoral Excellence at the Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis. (photo/Danielle Burrus)
Rozella White (left, front), 33, is the ELCA program director for young adult ministry at the churchwide organization in Chicago.
Rachel Wrenn, 30, is pastor at Prairie Star Ministries, a cooperative ministry of five congregations in southwestern Minnesota. (photo/Sarah Bakalyar)
Bianca Vazquez, 26, is an experiential learning coordinator at the Steinbruck Center of Luther Place Memorial Church in Washington, D.C. (photo/Emma Williams)
Spring brings synod assemblies
It’s synod assembly season in the ELCA. Beginning in April and running through June, each of the ELCA’s 65 synods gathers for its annual synod assembly. During the assembly, voting members elect leaders, determine budgets and address topics of concern through resolutions.
The theme for the Arkansas-Oklahoma Synod Assembly was “God’s Love in Action: Education, Service & Advocacy.” During the May 1-3 gathering in Tulsa, Okla., about 100 members, both youth and adults, worked in neighboring Global Gardens (science and gardening sites on or near school grounds), assisted the American Red Cross or made quilts for Lutheran World Relief.
During its assembly May 15-17, the Northern Great Lakes Synod collected $25,114.28 to help alleviate world hunger with a “Quarters for Hunger” offering.
Members of the East-Central Synod of Wisconsin Assembly wiggle their “sheep ears” as the executive director and leadership team of Crossways Camping Ministries leads them in singing a Bible camp favorite, “I Just Wanna Be a Sheep.” At its May 15-16 assembly in Green Bay, members joined in support of Crossways Camping Ministries by donating items needed by the camp.
Bishop Kevin S. Kanouse dedicates the Christ Evangelical Lutheran Mission Center at Briarwood Retreat Center as part of the Northern Texas-Northern Louisiana Synod Assembly April 25. The center houses the synod offices and has state-of-the art Internet access, teleconferencing and webcast capacity.
The Eastern North Dakota Synod Assembly gathered April 18-19 in Fargo. As part of an activity to learn about the Spirit, participants blew up balloons that were released. The assembly was reminded that the Spirit is always active and on the move, often surprising us in wonderful ways, and that the Spirit is fun, bringing joy and excitement that lead to hope.
ELCA Glocal Mission Gathering musicians from around the country provide music at the Southwestern Texas Synod Assembly, May 1-3.
Churchwide assembly – Central African Republic style
The churchwide assemblies of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Central African Republic have the same purpose as the ELCA’s, but in many ways they’re quite different. Just getting to the assembly can be a long, and sometimes hazardous, journey. Once there, the local flavor of the joyous gathering helps those attending accomplish their important work under sometimes less-than-ideal conditions. Susan Smith, an ELCA missionary in the Central African Republic, attended and helped at this spring’s assembly in Bouar. A recent entry to her blog describes the gathering. Here are some of her photos taken at the assembly. (Photos/Susan Smith)
Chalk, not Wi-Fi, is used to tally the votes. Chalk has never had a connection problem.
For most attending the assembly in the building without air conditioning, seating is on benches.
Traveling for many in the Central African Republic can be a dangerous task. Space is at a premium, and the tops of vehicles provide necessary, although precarious, seating. These people were not going to the assembly, but their mode of travel is common.
Benches were set up outside for the overflow crowd, who could hear the proceedings thanks to the generator-run speakers inside the building.
Besides the five voting members from each of the church’s 28 districts, many pastors attended the assembly.
Rebecca Miminza (left) was ordained during the last day of the assembly.
The assembly elected Ndanga-Toue, right, to be the new president. Next to him is Willie Langdji, an ELCA missionary.
Three regional leaders were given motorcycles, an important means of transportation, purchased with money provided by an ELCA synod that partners with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Central African Republic.