2011 Synod Assembly Mission Moments

As is past synod assemblies, we had "Mission Moments" shared by some of our Mission Interpreters.  Here are those stories.  You can click on the photographs for larger images.

Links to items mentioned in the moments are included in the sidebar boxes.

Judy Twist, Faith, Brookfield

At Faith Lutheran Church in Brookfield we are excited by our relationship with the Upper West Science Foundation in Wa, Ghana for the past four years.

We have supported nearly 100 children over that time with the purchase of their school uniforms, shoes, workbooks and school supplies.

This year, Faith plans to deepen our relationship with the USF. I will travel to Wa on Sunday – yes, THIS Sunday.

Thumbnail image for Kindergarten.jpg

After 19 hours in flight and 13 hours on a bus, I’ll spend two weeks in Wa touring the schools, meeting some of the children we’ve supported and helping to choose the next group of children we’ll support in the coming school year. I was also asked to be a guest on a radio program and to teach English for a day in three or four schools.


When I return to Accra, I hope to visit the Good News Theological College and Seminary in Accra on behalf of the ELCA to meet students and teachers. From this visit I’ll write an article and update the web page for the Seminary so that everyone will know the work of the Seminary and why it’s important to support the ELCA’s presence there. Thanks for your mission support which helps the ELCA to bring the Good News to even places in remote Africa.

Ms. Halcyon Person and Mr. Roger Carter - Bethel New Life

At Bethel New Life, we are excited by how our hands are been doing God’s work through the Bethel Christmas Store. For nearly three decades, your churches have helped us with a beloved Christmas charity program, which provided gifts and food to Westside families in need during the holiday season.

This year, we asked if you’d support a new, fundamentally different idea: one that would allow parents to not just be given gifts for their families, but to be a part of the giving process, choosing their own gifts at the level they could afford.

The response was incredible!

  • Sixteen churches donated more than 4,500 brand new gifts.
  • We spent one crazy week organizing all the gifts, pricing them for $1, $5 or $10.
  • More than 300 volunteers pitched in as shopping assistants, inventory managers, gift-wrappers, and childcare providers.

  • 575 families in our programs participated! Parents who couldn’t afford to shop were able to earn “Bethel Bucks”-- credit used like money in the store -- by taking financial literacy courses or healthy cooking classes, volunteering with our youth mentoring program, or a number of other ways that empower our participants and help them strengthen their families.

  • The store raised $5,500 to send 20 Westside high school students on a college tour to see what college has in store for them.

Mary Coonda, Ascension, Riverside

I volunteered with Bethel’s give-away program for more tAt Ascension Lutheran in Riverside we are excited about how our hands are doing God’s work with refugees.

The refugee story is as old as time, and brand new. With the help of RefugeeOne, we co-sponsored a family from Burma who arrived in Chicago late last fall. The family, Mom, Dad, the 4-year old son and 1-year old daughter, had been living in Malaysia.

Members of the congregation donated all the items necessary to furnish their apartment, from furniture and dishes to toys for the children. Volunteers loaded their vans and set up the apartment to provide a welcoming environment for the travel weary family.

The young dad became very ill on the plane. Almost immediately upon arrival in Chicago, RefugeeOne arranged for him to have emergency surgery at Rush to remove a brain tumor, and helped the family move into their apartment. RefugeeOne found transportation for the dad to get the follow-up treatments he needed after the surgery. I cannot begin to understand how it must feel to be in their situation.

The whole family came to our Build Your own Taco dinner, Ascension’s annual fundraiser for refugee assistance, in January. There is reason to hope that the dad will be ok, and the family is starting to settle in.

This is the second family our congregation has co-sponsored, and our work has been recognized in our community. Other churches in the Riverside and North Riverside ecumenical Covenant of Churches want to join with Ascension and RefugeeOne to co-sponsor another family later this year.

Together we can help families find safety and hope, one family at a time. Your mission dollars help to support the interfaith ministry of RefugeeOne and bring the presence of Jesus through people like us at Ascension.

han 7 years, and I’m glad we made this change. We’re not just giving to people without them giving something back.

Thanks for your Mission Support to Bethel New Life through our synod, that makes our extensive, life-changing programs possible.

Lin Hodkinson, Peace, Lake Zurich

At Peace Lutheran in Lake Zurich, we are excited about how our hands and community hands worked together to do God’s work at our 4th annual Mission Projects Day in February. 45 people attended, not only from the congregation, but 4 youth from the National Honor Society, members of the Environmental Club at the College of Lake County and an employee from the local Kohl's who saw a flyer at her store about this mission day. The local Holiday Inn Express donated 65 sheets to be used to roll into bandages.

This is what was accomplished:

  • We made 6 blankets for Project Linus,
  • 10 gift bags for Project Sweet Pea for families with newborns in intensive care,
  • 22 sewing kits for Lutheran World Relief that provide for vocational training for adults.
  • We rolled 565 bandages for Global Health Ministries that provide for clinics that cannot buy commercial bandages.
  • 58 Health Kits were put together for Lutheran World Relief with basic hygiene items for those in refugee or disaster situations,
  • 62 layette kits put together for Lutheran World Relief,

  • 6 quilts tied for Lutheran World Relief,
  • 3 completely hand sewn sleeping bags for the Ugly Quilt Project for homeless people.


  • We made 88 Swahili/English books for Hearts in Unity, simple books for children to learn English in Africa,
  • 55 school kits were completed for Lutheran World Relief with basic school supplies for children in 3rd world countries,
  • Collected 2 dozen bars of soap for Lutheran World Relief, that help to decrease diseases 

Thanks to so many people in our community and our partner organizations around the world for this opportunity to do as Jesus taught us to do.

Beth Gibbs, Prince of Peace Lutheran, Schaumburg

How to Make A Pillow Case Dress (PDF)

How can this pillowcase help our hands do God’s work?

Disaster struck Haiti, the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation, on January 12, 2010.

Over a year later and 1850 miles away, members of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Schaumburg, are creating pillow case dresses that will sit on the shoulders of little Haitian girls who, even before the earthquake, may never have worn a new dress in their lives. Hundreds of thousands of Haitian families are still living in makeshift tents amid the rubble. We really don’t want them to think that they’re forgotten.

The pattern’s origin is a website called “Dress a Girl around the World,” started by sisters-in-law who found that pillowcases were easy to transport on their missions to Uganda with Hope 4 Kids International. Free patterns for the pillow case dresses are available at the Mission Interpreter table in the display area.

After collecting donations from our congregation, we had a sewing day in April. Seven ladies made 17 dresses that day. Right now we have about 40 dresses ready to go. We have many more pillowcases and will have another sewing day in the fall. The fun part was choosing what ribbon and trims we would use to decorate them. We will be sending them out along with the flip-flops that were gathered as donations from our Preschool program, and are seeking donations of t-shirts and shorts to include for the little boys.

Thank you for your Mission Support that allows for permanent staff in places such as Haiti, so that we can truly use our hands to do God’s work.

Stephanie Olson, ELCA Young Adult in Global Mission, and Lord of Life, Schaumburg

I am excited about how my hands are doing God’s work as a former Young Adult in Global Mission - YAGM for short. I was one of three YAGMs - - who served in Germany from 2005-2006.

I worked with 13 adults with mental handicaps and a team of 10 co-workers from six countries, Germany, Switzerland, France, Poland, Slovakia and me from the US. German was our common language. My year opened my eyes and heart to German culture and language even more and to various examples of love between communities. I also became aware of the wounds and fears still felt from the world wars, feelings which seem unknown to most of us in the US. For at least the past ten years the Young Adults in Global Mission program has been sending 19-29 year olds to nine different countries for a year of service.

We worked with adults with handicaps, elderly, homeless, addicts, outcasts and many more.

Here I’m shown with two other YAGMs that were also in Germany, doing a skit at a special event. This experience led me to complete a Master of Arts in Mission and World Christianity at Luther Seminary upon my return. I also served as an English Lecturer in Slovakia for the past two years. Thank you to members of Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Schaumburg and ELCA members and congregations at large for your continued support of the YAGM program and young adults like myself as we go forth in the world as ambassadors for Christ and our church.

The Rev. Brian Hiortdahl, Resurrection, Chicago

We at Resurrection Lutheran Church are excited about how our hands and dollars are doing God’s work with ELCA Disaster Response in New Orleans even now, 5 years after Hurricane Katrina. Recently 6 young adults from Resurrection, Chicago, traveled there.

Encouraged by members of our congregation who work with the Lutheran Youth Gathering, they were able to help Ms. Rosalie, a grandmother in her early 70s return to the home she had lived in for 30 years when Katrina hit. In a thank letter her son wrote, “You may not know this, but you have given my mother hope when it was lost. When she was swindled by her contractor who walked away with every dollar that she possessed without a trace, she didn’t know how she would recover from such an unspeakable act. She was a victim of contractor fraud, as were so many homeowners affected by Hurricane Katrina. However, she never once lost her faith in God – even though many years passed.” I don’t have time to tell you Ms. Rosalie’s whole story of how she managed to survive during all that time, but we learned about her situation and the many ongoing problems from Hurricane Katrina from our hosts there at Grace Lutheran Church. Our group then spent two days with the Saint Bernard Project rebuilding Ms. Rosalie's house.

And the mission didn’t stop with the house. Resurrection members bought furniture and household items during the Epiphany season delivered by Pr. Hiortdahl this past March. Now Ms. Rosalie and her family will work with the St. Bernard Project to help another family return to their home.

Response to God’s work begins with our prayers and offerings but continues through the hands of our own sisters and brothers and even onward through the hands of those we touch. Thank you for those prayers and for supporting ELCA Disaster Response. Now you can celebrate with Ms. Rosalie too!

David Hall, Irving Park Lutheran, Chicago

At Irving Park Lutheran on the Northwest Side of Chicago we are very excited to be doing God’s work with our Hands through our community garden.

Years ago this plot of land adjacent to our parking lot had an old house on it, but through work between the church and members of our community, we demolished the house and turned the lot into an organic garden with 23 raised beds for growing produce.

The garden has had two wonderful growing seasons already, and in total we have harvested over 1300 pounds of organic produce that is donated to our community food pantry. With more than 100 volunteers from the church and the neighborhood, together we grow high quality organic produce for the poorest folks in our community who rarely can access healthy food.

At Irving Park Lutheran we are caring for God’s creation from the neediest folks in our neighborhood without access to food, to the very land that we cultivate. It is certainly our hands getting dirty, but it is definitely God’s work! Thanks to our congregation and neighbors for joining us in bringing the light of Christ to those in need.



Page URL: http://www.mcselca.org/what/stewardship/mission_interpreters/2011_moments.php