3/24/2014 2:00:00 PM
CHICAGO (ELCA) – As a church that believes “God is calling us into the world together,” members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) will participate in “God’s work. Our hands.” Sunday, Sept. 7 – a day dedicated to doing service work alongside neighbors in communities across the country.
In 2013, the 4 million-member ELCA celebrated its 25th anniversary with the first “God’s work. Our hands.” Sunday. ELCA members of all ages engaged in service projects that helped address critical needs in their neighborhoods and communities. Activities included cleaning parks and beaches, collecting food and preparing meals for people who are homeless, assembling care packages, and visiting the homebound and the elderly.
“We loved the idea that we were part of something bigger than ourselves,” said the Rev. Renee Patterson, pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Wyoming, Minn. “We know we pray for the body of Christ, but working as the body of Christ was both rewarding and encouraging for us as we realize how much we can do when we do it together.”
Volunteers from St. Paul worked at a local thrift store, saving the organization over 60 hours in labor costs. Patterson said the savings allowed the store to purchase more food “to address the ever-growing issue of hunger.”
“We loved it because it helped us live into our call to make a difference in God's world, and it helped us enjoy each other as we served our God side by side as a faith community,” said Patterson.
“‘God's Work. Our Hands.’ Sunday comes up quite a bit as a highlight of the year and is held up as a model of what being church is all about,” said the Rev. Kristine Dohrmann, pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran in Knoxville, Iowa. The members of Good Shepherd helped with home-repair projects and yard work for families in the congregation who needed assistance. Younger members colored table mats for Meals on Wheels.
“The fact that we know that we will, once again, be joining thousands of congregations across the country is a bonus that serves to fire up our members,” said the Rev. Steven Bond, pastor of Advent Lutheran Church in Mentor, Ohio. “We will have people of all ages working side by side in projects.”
Last year, the service projects at Advent included baking and distributing cookies to police and firefighters, building and repairing picnic tables for a local homeless shelter, and writing letters to military personnel and veterans. Bond said he is “excited about new possibilities this year.”
“Whatever the Spirit leads us to will be a blessing to us who serve, and we look forward to hearing stories from Lutherans around the country as they seek to love God and neighbor in such a visible way,” said Bond.
“‘God’s work. Our hands.’ Sunday reminds us that we are church together for the sake of the world. Our lives have been changed by our relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and it’s that encounter with Jesus that frees us to make a difference,” said ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton.
“When one congregation or a group of congregations gathers for service in their local communities, they are the church in that place, taking care of that part of God’s vineyard. But this is all work that we do together. When one congregation works to feed people who are hungry, that is also the entire church coming together,” said Eaton.
More information about “God’s work. Our hands.” Sunday is available at www.elca.org/dayofservice.
To connect and share via social media use #ELCADayofService.
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About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with about 4 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of “God's work. Our hands,” the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.