2013 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.

ELCA Malaria Campaign  
Good Shepherd, Prospect Heights
Bev and Dick Moody

A mosquito infestation occurred during Lent in our congregation! 350 paper mosquitos were hung from the ceilings throughout the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Prospect Heights. 

In an area of the Nave was a likeness of a child’s room with a mosquito net hanging over the bed. These visuals got the attention of members as they committed to a Lenten Mission Project to raise funds for the ELCA Malaria Campaign. The goal was to raise $5,000 within three years to help fight malaria in Africa. Our Good Shepherd Malaria Team suggested that if every giving unit in our congregation gave $15 per year for three years, we would reach our goal. So for every $15 donated, a mosquito was removed. 

It was surprising how quickly the mosquitos came down. Each week, the Swat-o-Meter in the Narthex reported the campaign income and the number of mosquitos removed. Here Pastor Eric Schlichting is checking out the progress.

As we celebrated Easter, the Good Shepherd Lenten Mission Project concluded with a fabulous outcome of over $6,600 raised in cash and pledges for the ELCA Malaria Campaign.

We urge your congregations to participate in the campaign using the excellent resources that can be found at www.elca.org/malaria.

Paper mosquitos and other aids are also available at our ELCA Malaria Campaign display table here at the assembly. Together we will make all things new for the people of Africa as we wipe out this very preventable disease.

 International Prayer Vigil for Middle East Peace  
Joanne Fitzgerald

Led by the Holy Spirit, the Working Group on the Middle East in our Metropolitan Chicago Synod is dedicated to “making all things new” for the peace-loving people in the Middle East, and particularly for our Palestinian Christian brothers and sisters living under occupation and experiencing injustices, discrimination and racism. 

They live with the daily humiliation of being surrounded by huge walls, barriers, roadblocks and checkpoints at their every turn. The massive walls do not only prevent movement from Palestinian cities to Israel, but are built on Palestinian land that separate Palestinians from Palestinians and block their movements keeping children from going to school, families and friends from visiting one another, and even separating people from their own homes and farms.

Certainly we have encouraged prayer for peace in the Middle East for many years, but now we are asking you to help by joining the New International Prayer Vigil on the 24th of every month originating with the ecumenical ACT Palestinian Alliance of over 100 churches and church related organizations. Please visit our display and pick up a flyer with simple information about joining the Prayer Vigil. We also ask that you consider voting for our two resolutions and attend our workshop this afternoon.

Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Schaumburg
Mary Simonis

A toilet bowl brush, a dish towel, and some hangers.  What, you might ask, do these things have in common?  The answer is a safe new beginning. 

Between October 1, last year and January 31, this year, 914 individuals left their unsafe homelands.  Places like Afghanistan, Nigeria, Uganda, Iraq and Iran, and sought asylum here in Illinois.  Imagine, 914, just in Illinois!  22,453 arrived in the U.S. during that time.

Do you suppose many of these new neighbors brought a toilet brush with them?  Or hangers? 

Or dish towels?  I'm guessing not.  But these are the types of items immigrants might need to set up housekeeping in their new country, their new homes

Here's where Refugee One steps in.  Refugee One collects household items to distribute to  refugee families.  They have lists of needed items.  It amazes me what I take for granted.  Shampoo, deodorant, trash bags, how much would it cost for a refugee family to purchase everything on this list?  Well, that's where we can step in. The collection of household goods is just one of those areas.  Prince of Peace has decided to participate in three areas.  We have already made a monetary contribution and will also be having the household goods collection this month.


Minot Flooding, ELCA Disaster Response 
Our Savior Lutheran Church, Aurora
Pr. Jeff Mikyska

At Our Savior Lutheran Church in Aurora, we have truly seen God making things new.

Our mission story began on June 24, 2011, when the sirens sounded throughout Minot, North Dakota around noon. Everyone’s worst nightmare was coming true.  The Souris River was spilling over its banks, and within hours this city of 48,000 was reduced to an oversized lake.

When all was said and done, over 4,200 homes were damaged and destroyed. Some 12,000 residents were left homeless.

But where there is faith there is hope. In the face of such devastation, something remarkable arose. Hope Village was created on the grounds of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Minot.

It is a one-of-a-kind effort in which the Body of Christ literally lives as the Body the Christ! Big top tents and trailers line the parking lot, serving as food tents, residence, showers, kitchens, chapels and offices. Every volunteer group of every church denomination lives, eats, prays and works there together. The Mennonites assess needs in neighborhoods. The Catholics monitor supplies. Lutheran Disaster Response organizes work teams. The Southern Baptist Conference runs the kitchen and food tent. The Presbyterian Disaster Assistance runs the Village. The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod supplies the trailers for showers and beds. The Body of Christ lives, worships, and works as the one Body of Christ.

As a result, in just 24 months, Hope Village has worked to send 390 families back into their homes! This is out of 500 families who were assessed as being the most at risk and in need.

Our congregation has sent food, clothing, books, cabinets, toilets, and workers out to Hope Village four times! We have even partnered with ELCA congregations in Sandwich and Somonauk to travel and work together.

To learn how your congregation can help, please visit www.hopevillagend.org and pick up a flyer at the Mission Interpreter display here at the assembly.

Concordia Place, Chicago
Brenda Swartz

I always like a story. This is the story of the Little Church that Did.

Once upon a time, a small, urban church was facing closure. They had only enough money to pay a pastor for one year. So they tricked a young, unsuspecting pastor right out of seminary to come to their church.

Within three days of the Pastor coming to the church, he was approached by 3 single mothers – all named Barbara – asking for help with care for their children after school. 

There were a lot of reasons for the church to say no. The church had never done anything like this before. No one knew how to do it. The church didn’t have much money. The single mothers didn’t have much money. And not only were the mothers not members of the church, they weren’t even Swedish. And the list of reasons to say no goes on and on.

But the young pastor and the struggling congregation believed that a church best witnesses God’s grace by serving the community around it. So together, the 3 Barabaras, the struggling congregation, and the young, now-wising-up pastor created Concordia Church’s first child care center. It grew from serving 12 children after school to 100 children ages 2 – 12. 

Years later, the wait list was longer than the number of children the center could serve. So the little church once again set out to do big things. The congregation – now a full 65 families strong in membership – worked with local officials to raise $10 million to purchase and renovate a vacant Catholic church and school.

Last year Concordia Place impacted the lives of more than 700 children, teens, adults and seniors in Chicago’s northwest communities. 

Because of Concordia Place, low-income and working poor parents can go to work confident that their children are learning in a safe environment in our licensed Early Learning, Preschool, After-school, and Summer Camp.

Teens become confident, compassionate leaders when engaged in hands-on experiences in our Emerging Leaders program.

Seniors remain independent in their homes longer through senior wellness programs at our center and volunteers providing home visits and transportation assistance.

And this all started with the Little Church that Did, and is still determined to make all things new for its greater Avondale community. Please visit our display here at the assembly and learn how to become involved with us.  

El Salvador Project
Lord of Life Lutheran Church, Schaumburg
Julie Mulherin

Since 2000 Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Schaumburg, has partnered with the Salvadoran Lutheran Church. Throughout the years we have strengthened and transformed our lives together. We work with a day shelter, with our sister congregation who shares our name, Señor de la Vida, in San Salvador, and with the whole synod.

For me personally, El Salvador has had a profound impact on my life. I have travelled to there 14 times. This past summer, I even got married in there!

It is in El Salvador that I feel closest to Jesus. Through my experiences I have learned the importance of faith, hope, and prayer. In some ways, El Salvador breaks my heart as I see injustices. I cry with Jesus at the pain and suffering in the world. Yet at the same time, I am inspired and motivated to work toward the Kingdom of Heaven.

This summer we are sending three members to El Salvador to visit the Salvadoran synod, the day shelter, and our sister church.

One of the highlights will be helping build the foundation for a church at our sister church! We will be placing an emphasis on engaging our whole congregation in Schaumburg with activities aligned with the Salvadoran trip. The biggest focus is our relationship because this is where transformation happens.

Sending members to El Salvador has been beneficial for both our churches. Meeting Jesus through a different cultural perspective helps us understand Jesus in a new way. Travelers share new faith experiences with the church so that all members can benefit from their experiences – making all things new for each of us.

Hunger Meal, ELCA World Hunger
Messiah Lutheran Church, Wauconda
Grace Jorgensen

At Messiah we started our Lenten Journey by SETTING THE TABLE.  The Sunday before Ash Wednesday 125 of our members attended a Special Hunger Dinner.  Sixteen of those guests were seated in the fine dining area in Snow Lake, Manitoba, Canada.  

This roped off area had tables set with linen table clothes, wine goblets, candles and more food than they could possibly eat.

The second area was in Salzburg, Austria which represented the middle class.

The 30 people seated in this area dined on 1/3 cup of rice with a vegetable and a bottle of water for each person.  They dined at simple tables and their meal was eaten off of paper plates.

The last and largest group represented the world’s poor from Kampala, Uganda.  

Seated at crowded long rows of tables they were served a spoonful of plain rice.  One bottle of water was to be shared with their whole table. 

At the end of the meal, all the participants were asked to share how they felt about their experience.

For many, this experience was a real awakening.

This hunger awareness dinner kicked off the next phase of our Lenten Journey.  Our members were able to purchase grocery bags for a donation of $5.00 each.  We asked them to decorate their bags with special messages, Bible verses or prayers and return them filled with non-perishable food items.  The filled bags were distributed to three local food pantries and all of the donations to purchase the bags sent to ELCA World Hunger.  

Lutheran World Relief Mission Quilts
Lutheran Church of the Atonement, Barrington
Mary Anderson

For almost 50 years, in an attempt to make all things new for refugees and other people in need around the world, people at Lutheran Church of the Atonement in Barrington have made thousands of quilts that have been collected and distributed by Lutheran World Relief. 

An LWR quilt is very special. It brings warmth on a cold night and shelter from the sun on a hot day. It becomes a bed, a room divider, a backpack to carry belongings and at times a home.

Each year, dedicated quilters across the United States donate an average of 400,000 Mission Quilts to LWR, and yet there are some partners overseas whose requests cannot be met. 

By collecting 500,000 Quilts through the 2013 LWR Quilt Campaign, we will be able to reach further than ever before with this warm expression of comfort and care from U.S. Lutherans.
Anyone regardless of age or gender can help make LWR quilts. If you can cut, pin, tie knots or sew, you qualify. To learn more go to lwr.org or pick up information at the Mission Interpreter display here today.

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