Our Stories

Our Stories2018-12-04T13:54:02-05:00

altar with row of lit candles

A Communion of Saints

On a Sunday in 1950, Bill Milholland, Sr. walked out of the sanctuary of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Salisbury, NC, stood on the top step looking down at the sidewalk, and saw the woman who would become his wife of 68 years. “I spied Mary Anne, and immediately Cupid shot an arrow and it hit me,” Bill said. “I walked right down the steps and asked if I could see her, and she said yes. So, our relationship began at St. John’s.”

In that moment, Bill was not yet the “Pastor Milholland” whose ministry in the NC Synod would span decades. He could not have known the life that he and Mary Anne would build together in the Lutheran church, or the many milestones they would celebrate in that very congregation. And he could not have known that one far off day, he would be back at St. John’s to say goodbye. (more…)

Life Together, Reimagined

“Life is a gift and we are called to life together,” says Pastor Amanda Highben of Duke Lutherans, quoting the words of Bonhoeffer that her campus ministry holds as central to its mission. “What we’ve been lifting up in this time of COVID is that we are still called, that has not changed. But the means through which we share life together have had to change for the safety and wellbeing of our students.”

Indeed, nearly all aspects of life have been changed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and among the many places where community life has been upended are college campuses.


Lincolnton  Little  Library

Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, Salem, Lincolnton, came together to do “God’s Work” with “Our Hands.” Members of Emmanuel, Lincolnton, also joined in the project since the two congregations began worshipping together in the arbor at Salem earlier this summer. (more…)

Joyfully Gathering to Serve

The people of the NC Synod could easily have opted for the comfortable (even understandable) choice of curling up on our sofas with Netflix instead of participating in God’s Work. Our Hands. this year. But I celebrate that instead, Lutherans across the state chose to act with holy defiance by serving in our communities during the strange era of COVID-19, boldly living out our faith and proclaiming the radical message of God’s abundant love in a hurting world.

The congregation of Morning Star Lutheran Church in Matthews safely and carefully shared two days of inspiring servant experiences; however, our activities certainly looked different from a typical God’s Work. Our Hands. weekend. (more…)

With God We Can!

In spite of challenges because of COVID-19, the partnership of With God We Can! has continued its commitment to feed people in our community of Rocky Mount, NC whose bowls are empty.

We started canning on Sunday, July 19, 2020, about three weeks behind our 2019 start date. To date in 2020, we have canned 277 quarts of tomatoes—in 2019 we canned a total of 245 quarts of tomatoes. (more…)

Operation Mask Mission

How do 100,000 masks get into the hands of NC Synod congregations? “Ask and you shall receive!” says Deacon GeoRene (“Jo”) Jones, NC Synod Liaison for Lutheran Disaster Response (LDR).

Over the last 25 days, 152 cases of cloth face coverings were distributed to congregations and affiliated agencies. Early this year, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) made a one-time offer to donate masks to non-profit agencies in response to the COVID-19 crisis. (more…)

Solidarity Beyond the Walls

When members of the Church of the Abiding Savior, Lutheran in Durham began discussing prisons in their adult Sunday School class in early 2018, they did not know that life-changing new relationships would come from it. But that is what happened. (more…)

Born from the pandemic—something new!

“When I was a child, I had the cutest yellow dress made out of a flour sack,” Barbara Smith shared with her pastor, Vern Kinard, “and although we had many sack clothes growing up…we never had to worry about food because we lived in this community. That’s how it should be and that’s how we hope it stays.” Pastor Vern Kinard serves as the pastor at St. Luke’s in the rural community of Tyro, in Davidson County. He shared, “St. Luke’s has a passion for feeding people. We gather every Wednesday, year-round, for a potluck dinner that’s open to all. At least we did until earlier this year when the realities of COVID-19 forced us to no longer gather in our building.”


Sharing God’s free gift of grace

Ascension Lutheran Church in Wilson held its second annual Oktoberfest Celebration on October 13, 2018, which turned out to be a beautiful day weather-wise, making for a wonderful event. The first Oktoberfest was done as part of the 500th Reformation Anniversary Churchwide Celebration and was so well received we decided to do it again. Both were given as a gift to the community—no admission charges, no fees for food or any of the activities—only asking donations for the beer served in our BierGarten; donations which were turned over to Veterans Residential Services of Wilson. (more…)

Finding new ways

“I’ve heard some people say that they aren’t having church, but the truth is, we are the church. It is true that we cannot go to the building and worship corporately, have our spirits lifted in prayer, in song, in word, in communion. But we can certainly worship as the church together, apart. (more…)

From daily bread to abundant thanks

“People are often overwhelmed with thanks, tears in their eyes, and joy in their hearts as we bring an abundance of food to them.”

The Rev. Chantal McKinney, pastor of Christ’s Beloved Community (CBC), Winston-Salem, shares reactions from neighborhood folks who received food from the CBC food pantry. Amid the difficult news and hardships all around us, there is good news to share in the NC Synod this Easter season! We have eight congregations throughout the synod who received $500 ELCA World Hunger Daily Bread Grants. (more…)

The church is the people!

Lent 2020 began with people gathering for the imposition of ashes, but after just a few weeks of worship following soup and sandwich suppers, the coronavirus interrupted everything. (more…)

“God is in the room”

Almost five hundred middle and high school students gather in a ballroom in Greensboro on a weekend in February. Some are laughing and chatting with their friends from church, some are anxiously waiting to see what this is all about, some are greeting old and new friends across the room, and some are hanging out in the hallways. And then the music starts…it might be a familiar camp song with a slightly different sound thanks to a full band. Maybe it’s Head to the Heart”, “Old Church Choir”, or the perennial favorite, “My Lighthouse” that’s been popular with Lutheran Youth Organization (LYO) participants for many years. No matter the song, when the synod youth band begins to play the energy in the room shifts; the Holy Spirit is present! (more…)

A time for the Gospel in action

‘If there was ever a time for the Gospel in action, this is it.’

McDougald Terrace is the city of Durham’s largest public housing complex with 360 apartments built in 1953. In early January, the Durham Housing Authority began an immediate emergency relocation of families living there following a number of carbon monoxide poisonings in December. Inspections revealed dangerously high carbon monoxide levels from gas stoves, furnaces, and water heaters. For almost six weeks now, about 280 families—including almost 500 children—have been living in 12 hotels across Durham County. (more…)

“I believe that I am a better pastor…”

Pastors Mary and Tim Canniff-Kuhn concluded their final summer as program directors at Lutheridge in 2019. For 25 summers, they nurtured, trained, and equipped an entire generation of summer staff with skills that have changed the church, our synod, and the world well beyond the boundaries of camp. “I believe that I am a better pastor for having spent summers under their leadership and guidance,” says Lauren Carlson, pictured above as a counselor and now serving as pastor at Calvary, Morganton. (more…)

St. Mark’s wins “Do Good” award

On December 12,2019 at the Wells Fargo Atrium, St. Mark’s Lutheran Church of Charlotte was presented the “Most Generous Financial
Gift” award by Share Charlotte, Wells Fargo, and the Charlotte Business Journal for their support of Running Works, a nonprofit organization that provides life skills training and housing to homeless people. The award is based on a total gift of $17,883 given by St. Mark’s and the Social Ministry Committee with the approval of St. Mark’s Congregation Council. (more…)

Pastor Albert Starr preaching

Christ the King hosts interfaith MLK worship

“Reconciliation without justice isn’t reconciliation at all.”

“We have inherited a big house, a great ‘world house’ in which we have to live together—black and white, Easterners and Westerners, Gentiles and Jews, Catholics and Protestants, Muslim and Hindu,” Dr. Martin Luther King said in 1964 when accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway. Dr. King would have been pleased with the very diverse crowd that attended the interfaith prayer service held Jan. 19 at Christ the King Lutheran Church as part of the Town of Cary’s “Dreamfest” events on MLK weekend. (more…)

Good Shepherd offers suicide awareness class

This September, the Reimagining Health Collaborative (RHC) team at Good Shepherd, Brevard, learned that our application for a grant from ELCA Disability Ministries had been partially funded. This funding enabled us to offer a suicide awareness training by Soul ShopTM for our community on October 24, along with refreshments. Thirty-five people attended the training, which focused on increasing people’s willingness to talk about suicide, gaining basic conversational skills to use when talking with someone they are concerned about, and connecting self and others to needed services. The training was presented by Fe Avis, a suicide prevention expert and creator of Soul ShopTM, an international movement that trains clergy, ministry leaders, and community members to incorporate care for those impacted by suicidal desperation as an integral component of their life together. (more…)

Beth Eden brothers encourage giving

Samuel Calderon (pictured on left), who was nine on November 20, and Nathaniel (on right), who will be seven on December 12, celebrated their birthdays together this year at their church–Beth Eden, Newton. Instead of gifts they asked those attending to bring a donation to help the many people who have been affected by hurricanes this year if they so desired. (more…)

St. Andrew’s begins new ministry

“If you have come to me in friendship, to help me, then my heart will be knit to you.” (1 Chronicles 12:17)

Hickory, NC has been cited as having the highest population of unhoused veterans in the country. Several ministries and outreach organizations in Catawba County work to bring a sign of God’s love to members of our community–veteran and civilian–who do not enjoy the safety and security of a stable home. (more…)

Abiding Savior hosts ecumenical Thanksgiving service

On Tuesday, November 26, about 60 people gathered for an ecumenical Thanksgiving Worship service at Abiding Savior Lutheran Church, Durham. This was the third annual such service, but was by far the best turnout. The four congregations participating were: St. Philip Episcopal, Christus Victor Lutheran, St. Titus Episcopal, and Abiding Savior Lutheran. (more…)

Beautiful to be the church

“The more I learned about Christ’s Beloved Community, the more I thought, ‘This is a beautiful thing!

On a beautiful Thursday in October, a small group of us traveled from various spots around the synod to the south side of Winston-Salem. Based on the tiendas and taquerias in the surrounding neighborhoods, we could have easily been in southeast Florida or south Texas. The parking lot was filled with vehicles, folks were mowing the grass and trimming the hedges, volunteers were plentiful throughout the building, music was being practiced in the worship space, and lunch was being prepared. We gathered that day for as current and potential mission partners to hear the stories of Christ’s Beloved Community (CBC)/Comunidad Amada de Cristo. (more…)

Lutheran Chapel serves first responders

Lutheran Chapel, China Grove, celebrated “God’s work. Our hands.” on Tuesday, October 29, through serving a community meal for Southern Rowan County first responders. Hamburgers and hot dogs with the trimmings were served to policemen, firemen, EMT’s, and sheriff’s department personnel from staff in Kannapolis, Landis, China Grove, and Salisbury. Special guest was Sheriff Kevin Auten from Salisbury. Members from Lutheran Chapel prepared the meal under the leadership of Council President Steve Beaver.

Story submitted by Pastor Susan Bame.

Grace, Washington’s Goat Challenge

Our small but mighty congregation, Grace, Washington, began what we call the Goat Challenge last year. We are small – about 32 members regularly attending – but are concerned about hunger issues in our world. The goat challenge began as a way to help with hunger worldwide. Two of our members are goat owners and farmers. Goats are economical, take a small space on which to live and produce well. A goat can produce a gallon of milk daily—more than enough to help feed a hungry family. (more…)

Packing purses!

For their October meeting, members of the Sullivan Huddle of Women of the ELCA at First, Greensboro, participated in a service project working with “An Attitude of Gratitude.” (more…)

“I’m always surprised”

“The mountains are calling and I must go.” Perhaps you’ve seen a shirt, mug, or other item printed with this quote from naturalist and preservationist John Muir.  It’s actually a shortened version of a sentence in a letter written to Muir’s sister in 1873: “The mountains are calling & I must go & I will work on while I can, studying incessantly.” For many of the church leaders from across the NC Synod, the mountains call each fall and we must go—specifically the mountains call us to Fall Convocation at Lutheridge from Monday to Wednesday sometime each fall. For those three days, we worship, we pray, we sing, we learn and we play—all incessantly.  We gather each autumn with different keynote speakers and different workshop and worship leaders, but some things are constants. For Pastor Greg Williams (Grace, Hendersonville) the things that are his favorites are those constants: “My three faves: worship, fellowship with colleagues, and keynoters who challenge my continuing growth.” (more…)

First Lutheran Church, Greensboro, participated in the Greensboro Pride Festival on Sunday September 15. Twenty-one members of the congregation hosted a booth to hand out bottles of water and express our commitment to full inclusion for all LGBT adults. Over 400 bottles of water were distributed and numerous great conversations were had about God and God’s love for all people. Pastor Jay Hilbinger is pictured.

Story shared by George Still.

This weekend was a historic event at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Salisbury.

On Sunday during the 11:00 service, a Covenant of agreement between Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem and St. John’s
Lutheran was signed by both Pastors, Rev. Dr. Munther Isaac and Rev. Rhodes Woolly. Pastor Munther preached at St. John’s Sunday services and led a community forum later that evening. (more…)

ReformING: Always being made new

In 2015, Pastors Lauren and Paul Carlson were called as co-pastors to Calvary, Morganton, where they would share one call, 50/50. Today, they’re still serving at Calvary and they’re still sharing one call, but now Pastor Paul is three-quarters time and Pastor Lauren is one-quarter time, but that’s not the only thing that has changed. Some of the members, who have worshiped at the 78-year-old congregation for many years, now look around the worship space and only recognize about half the congregation which has an average worshiping attendance of 120. There’s a new level of energy and excitement at Calvary. (more…)

Pull up a chair!

“The kingdom of God is a bunch of outcasts and oddballs gathered at a table,” Rachel Held Evans wrote, “not because they are rich or worthy or good, but because they are hungry, and because there’s always room for more.” Held Evans, a 37-year-old best-selling Christian author, tragically died this spring after initially being hospitalized for the flu. The table seemed to be a theme throughout Held Evans’ writing. She was always quick to note that we are not the ones to set the table or prepare the feast. It’s already been given. We simply are invited to pull up a chair and dig in. (more…)

“Faith, love, joy, and helping others”

Both Hurricane Matthew in October 2016 and Hurricane Florence in September 2018 flooded Cathy Farmer’s home in Princeville, N.C. (the first African American incorporated town in the U.S.), forcing Cathy, her terminally ill daughter, and two grandchildren out of her home. During Hurricane Matthew, the four were rescued from the flood waters. Since then, Cathy and her family have been mobile, staying with friends and family members. Cathy’s daughter recently passed away. (more…)

“God’s calling me to something more”

Brad Alexander has spent the last thirteen years working as a purchasing agent for a company that installs windows, exterior doors, mirrors, and bath accessories for new construction homes. On most Sunday mornings, you can find Brad at Redeemer, Gastonia, where he’s the congregation council president, an adult Sunday school teacher, and more. (Just don’t look for him in the choir; he’s not a singer.) Victor Parrish is a retired barber and hair stylist; he’s also a lifelong church musician. Victor has been the pianist at The Arbor, Lexington, for about 16 years and helps lead all the worship services. Last September, Brad and Victor, along with twelve others with equally unique stories, became part of the first cohort of the Lay Preaching Certification Program in the NC Synod. (more…)

The good things God is doing

Planning an assembly is challenging. What ministry areas need to be highlighted? What do we hope congregations will learn that can be energizing for their own ministries? The recent 2019 NC Synod Assembly was no different. While the assembly theme, Vital Congregations, was lifted up in a variety of ways, folks also learned much more about shared ministries and the good things God is doing in this synod. (more…)

Garden beds and partnerships

Saint Peter’s in Salisbury began a garden ministry in 2015. The congregation sits on about 13 acres of land. There are many people in the congregation who have a good knowledge of farming and gardening. We also understand that part of God’s mission is that the hungry be fed, so it seemed to be a natural fit. The garden produced 108 lbs. the first year. Each year it has increased to the point that last year it produced around 630 lbs. of produce. (more…)

Photo: Emily Edwards

Business hats or prayer shawls

On a Sunday morning last June, shortly after graduating from seminary, Cassie McIntosh Overcash drove from Columbia to Charlotte to preach at a neutral site for the call committee from Grace, Thomasville. She shared, “I stopped for coffee and a chocolate pastry and ate the pastry hastily in my car. When I arrived at the church, I started to finish my coffee, but spilled it all over myself. (more…)

Nio Farr
(We Are in This Together)!

On April 7, Pastor Kristin Engstrom, the ELCA’s Coordinator of the Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM) program in Senegal, visited Good Shepherd, Brevard. This was Pastor Kristin’s first visit with us, and we celebrated with African-inspired food and drink at coffee hour. Pastor Kristin preached during worship and presented a slide show and answered questions during our Sunday School time. She emphasized that by supporting her work, our congregation is part of something larger than ourselves. (more…)

A Small Church Big on Community

Daniels Lutheran Church is a small church tucked in between hay fields and soy bean fields. It’s a church that worships around 70 people a Sunday. Small churches often get the reputation that they are dying. If you believe that I’ve got some ocean front property in North Dakota that I’d be happy to sell you. (more…)

Lutheran Congregations of Catawba Valley Unite to Fight Hunger and Remember a Beloved Pastor

More than 80 parishioners from five Lutheran congregations in Catawba Valley joined forces on Sunday, April 7, in the fight against hunger. Through the Outreach Program, volunteers worked tirelessly to pack 15,228 meals for families in need. (more…)

Take the next step

In a quiet coffee shop in Charlotte a group of women gather regularly to play what they refer to as “retirement bridge”; basically bridge for retired people. In between hands, during deals, and at break time, their conversations tend to revolve around books being read by their book clubs, upcoming lectures or concerts, and local opportunities for service. (more…)

“God in Comics” panel, (L-R) Vincent Stevens-former Lutheridge counselor; Pastor Zach Harris-Ascension, Wilson; and Pastor Will Rose-Trinity, Chapel Hill

Pastors Harris and Rose facilitate “God in Comics”

The NC Synod was well represented at the Oak City Comic-Con held in Raleigh March 15-17, 2019.  The “God in Comics” panel discussion was facilitated by Pastor Will Rose of Holy Trinity, Chapel Hill, Pastor Zach Harris of Ascension in Wilson, and Vincent Stephens who, though now ministering at a non-Lutheran church, served for five years as a counselor at Lutheridge. The panel discussed the intersection of Geek culture and biblical and theological insights that can be seen in comics, movies, TV, and gaming. (more…)

Emmaus Men Mentoring host museum day

The Emmaus Men Mentoring Program is a part of the ministry of Emmaus, a mission congregation of the NC Synod. The program was designed to address the unique needs of African American boys in the West Charlotte Community. (more…)

Plaster damage, St. Paul’s stairwell

Hurricane Florence Recovery – St. Paul’s, Wilmington

In late October 2018, five weeks after Hurricane Florence, Deacon GeoRene Jones, synod liaison for Lutheran Disaster Response (LDR), hosted LDR’s U.S. Program Director, Pastor Mike Stadie, as they met with some of our Coastal congregations to listen and see the damage after the storm.

While many St. Paul’s families sustained property damage, thankfully, all are safe and accounted for. Their 1880s building has weathered many storms, but this one toppled parapets, wrenched tiles from the roof, and left it vulnerable to extreme water damage. Inside, they experienced spalling plaster, peeling paint, disintegrating wood, and mold growth, as well as ruined stained glass, missing windows, and copper architectural details thrown from towers like children’s toys

St.Matthew hallway damage.

Hurricane Florence Recovery – St. Matthew, Wilmington

In late October 2018, five weeks after Hurricane Florence, Deacon GeoRene Jones, synod liaison for Lutheran Disaster Response (LDR), hosted LDR’s U.S. Program Director, Pastor Mike Stadie, as they met with some of our Coastal congregations to listen and see the damage after the storm.

Thankfully, the fairly-new roof over the sanctuary held fast. Offices, the preschool, and choir rooms all were damaged when the educational building’s flat roof succumbed to the storm. Even while tear-out, mold remediation, and repairs were going on, St. Matthew hosted emergency response crews, and a National Guard nursing unit serving in emergency evacuation shelters. The day of the LDR visit, some Women of the ELCA continued their work on Lutheran World Relief quilts.

Reconciliation’s stained glass window survived the storm.

Hurricane Florence Recovery – Reconciliation, Wilmington

In late October 2018, five weeks after Hurricane Florence, Deacon GeoRene Jones, synod liaison for Lutheran Disaster Response (LDR), hosted LDR’s U.S. Program Director, Pastor Mike Stadie, as they met with some of our Coastal congregations to listen and see the damage after the storm.

The good news was that they had just removed three dangerously-large cypress trees. The bad news was that the winds of Hurricane Florence followed by days of driving rain forced water around and over sills of stained glass windows in the sanctuary, and down through the walls beneath a section of storm-compromised roof. They had inches-deep flooding in the main building and the educational building where their preschool normally meets. No families experienced catastrophic damage.

Hurricane Florence Recovery – St. Andrew’s, New Bern

In late October 2018, five weeks after Hurricane Florence, Deacon GeoRene Jones, synod liaison for Lutheran Disaster Response (LDR), hosted LDR’s U.S. Program Director, Pastor Mike Stadie, as they met with some of our Coastal congregations to listen and see the damage after the storm.

The roof of the sanctuary was severely damaged by the storm. Several days of torrential rains followed by warm weather left the interior of sanctuary sodden, causing mold on nearly every inch of surface area. Even worse, 15 families in the congregation lost their homes. Still, St. Andrew’s members welcomed, housed, and fed volunteer recovery crews.

Pastor Stadie and Deacon Jones were joined by Lutheran Services Carolinas (LSC) Disaster Response Coordinator Paul Dunn as they met with St. Andrew’s to hear their specific needs and those of the wider Craven County community.

“I wouldn’t be who, or where, I am today without LYO”

The NC Synod’s Lutheran Youth Organization (LYO) has always been committed to equipping leaders for the sake of sharing the Gospel.


“We didn’t focus on debt or budgets or guilt”

Imagine being called as an associate pastor to a thriving, suburban congregation with a thousand members, an average worship attendance of 300; a congregation with a passion for serving the community and plenty of staff and resources. Then, imagine being called as a solo pastor to that same congregation some thirty years later. (more…)

Rembering Pastor Miller

In this month when we lift up the contributions of African-Americans, we remember the Rev. Earlean Miller who, in 1979, became the first African-American woman ordained a pastor in all of Lutheranism in North America, according to the ELCA. Her first call was Prince of Peace, Greensboro, in the NC Synod where she served from 1979-1984. She and the congregation of Prince of Peace have nurtured other women of color to ordained ministry in our synod: Pastor Beverly Wallace, Pastor Brenda Bynum, and Pastor CeCee Mills. Thanks be to God for Pastor Earlean Miller. We are blessed to be a part of history / herstory! (more…)

The gifts of all God’s people

It’s been more than 50 years since Martin Luther King, Jr. led the Montgomery Bus Boycott and delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington. Yet, it doesn’t take long to figure out that we still have lots of work to do. Any scroll through today’s news offers stories related to racial or cultural inequality.


Our Father’s drive-through Nativity

Our Father, Greensboro, has been offering a live Nativity drive-through a few weeks before Christmas. It has been going on for over ten years and typical attendance has been 75-80 cars driving through.

This year Pastor Jesse Canniff-Kuhn and some members engaged the help of social media and Nextdoor.com, along with maybe 10 hours (and no extra money), and attendance sky rocketed to 225! (more…)

Bethlehem Star Lighting

On December 3, a star shined brightly again over the community of Bethlehem, after having experienced devastating hurricane damage in the fall of 2017. The new Bethlehem Star was a beneficiary of the NC Synod’s Peeler Casey Funds which represented 20% of funds raised. (more…)

Collards, chard, and hope

When Kristy and Don Milholin’s children were in elementary school they noticed several children experiencing food insecurity. Kristy and Don felt called to help make a difference in those children’s lives, and so in August 2009, they started the Out of the Garden Project in their home around the kitchen table. The Milholins began personally supplying 10 families with a small bag of food each Friday so that those children and their families would have something to eat over the weekend. What began in 2009 by helping 10 families with a small bag of food weekly, has now grown to the largest organization of its kind in the greater Greensboro area.


Ebenezer packs bags for vets

Ebenezer, China Grove, member Jerry Fitch is a Vietnam Veteran. His Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) group was collecting toiletries for veterans who would be in the hospital over the holidays at our local VA Hospital in Salisbury.  (more…)

Serving after the storm

Hurricane Florence hit the coast of North Carolina on September 14; Hurricane Michael arrived in NC on October 11. Congregations across the synod looked for meaningful ways to serve. The youth at Christ the King, Cary, shared love with St. Paul’s, Wilmington, by making bracelets and writing notes of prayers for St. Paul’s youth after hearing about Florence’s impact on the community of Wilmington.

A church Comic-Con first

As the seasons changed from summer to fall, Ascension Lutheran Church in Wilson, NC also saw a major change in the seasons of outreach as it hosted its first mini Comic-Con self-evidently entitled: Free Comic Book Weekend. The event was the result of a friendship and conjoined ministry that can only be attributed to God’s Spirit at work. (more…)

Chrismon ministry at Macedonia

Eleven years of fellowship around a table filled with beads, threads, and patterns is a Saturday morning tradition at Macedonia Lutheran Church in Burlington, North Carolina. The Chrismon tree is a highly anticipated and traditional Advent and Christmas event at our church. The ministry itself is as glorious as the tree. Chrismon is a shortened form of the two words, “Christ Monograms.” They are created from patterns, each with a biblical explanation and description. Each has a unique name based on scripture from the Old or New Testaments. (more…)

Stories of faith in action

On Sunday, September 23, Bishop Tim Smith traveled to St. John’s, Hudson, to install Pastor Dan Duke (not Dan Carolina…much to the bishop’s dismay) as their new pastor even though Pastor Duke is still the pastor at St. Stephen’s, Lenoir. How can that be? (more…)

Workers with homeowner

Holy Cross, Mocksville, pulls weeds

Many congregations feel as if they are a family. Holy Cross, Mocksville, is no exception to that. When it came time to decide how to plan our “God’s work. Our hands.” Day, the Evangelism/Social Ministry Committee, came up with an idea appropriate to our congregational family.

St. Luke’s, Conover, serves 9 ways

St. Luke’s, Conover, completed nine different projects in 2018! Leading up to our “God’s Work. Our Hands.” Sunday, we signed up for areas of interest and ability and then on September 9 we sent teams out after our worship and the celebration of Holy Communion. (more…)

First, Lexington, delivers 3,600 cookies!

“God does not need your good works, but your neighbor does.” Martin Luther perfectly describes the attitude at First, Lexington, on Sunday, September 9, 2018. In the early morning hours, families gathered to deliver 3,600 homemade cookies to every fireman, policeman, and all emergency personnel in Davidson County. (more…)

Joy of Discovery partners with St. Augustine

For our 2018 God’s work. Our hands. Sunday, Joy of Discovery, Raleigh, partnered with a group of students from St. Augustine’s University, a Historically Black College near us in Raleigh. (more…)

Four congregations serve together

On Sunday afternoon, September 9, members from four Stanly and Cabarrus County congregations (First/Albemarle, St. Martin’s/Albemarle, Mt. Zion/Richfield, and St. Stephen’s/Gold Hill) gathered at Lutheran Services Carolinas’ Trinity Place in Albemarle for “God’s work. Our hands.” Day. (more…)

Augsburg, Winston-Salem, serves across their community

God’s love was quite evident as members of all ages from Augsburg, Winston-Salem, honored “God’s work. Our hands.” weekend by participating in a variety of activities around their community. (more…)

First, Greensboro, tackles hunger and more

More than 80 members and friends at First, Greensboro, served in the congregation and community Sept. 22-23 as part of “God’s work. Our hands.” weekend. (more…)

Advent, Charlotte, celebrates and serves

God’s work, Our hands” at Advent, Charlotte, was a celebration of diversity and unity, and of God’s love for all.
We opened our day with a unified early worship service, and then worked on nearly 20 different projects at both our church location and off-site. (more…)

Cross and Crown, Matthews, works inside and out

Cross and Crown, Matthews, went to work in the community on Saturday, Sept 8, our “God’s work, Our hands” day. Two teams also did projects within our own building. Inside a team of Middle School students cleaned out and reorganized our library, and many hands tidied our kitchen and cleaned out cabinets and refrigerators. (more…)

Sharon, Statesville, are busy planting

We have a Sharon community youth group out here in West Iredell called Lookout Community Youth. The kids are supported by three churches, Sharon ELCA, Bethel UMC and Marvin UMC.

We had “God’s work. Our hands.” mission projects this year on two Sundays. September 9 we planted flowers at each church and put up a bird feeder. September 23 we went to our Fifth Street Shelter where we baked cookies and planted flowers.

Click on a photo to enlarge image.

Morning Star, Matthews, has hands to serve

Calloused hands, smooth hands, wrinkled hands, tiny toddler hands all came together at Morning Star, Matthews, for “God’s work. Our hands.” weekend. (more…)

Our Father, Greensboro, cares for first responders

At Our Father, Greensboro, one of our primary gifts is hospitality so we focused “God’s work. Our hands.” Day on appreciating all the First Responders in our local community and Guilford County. (more…)

St. James, Fayetteville, paints and more

St. James, Fayetteville, celebrated “God’s work. Our hands.” as we painted three storage sheds for local homeless ministry, Operation InAsMuch; did shopping for ALMS House (local assistance ministry–we offered matching $$); offered “quarter assistance” for folks at local laundromat; went singing at local retirement center and shut-ins; AND one very special baptism. (more…)

“God’s Work. Our Hands.” across the synod

Congregations all across the NC Synod recently participated in the ELCA effort “God’s work. Our hands.” Sunday. This designated day gives us an opportunity to celebrate who we are as a church—one church, freed in Christ to serve and love our neighbor. Read these stories to see the many ways congregations across the synod are serving and loving their neighbors.

“You are not alone.”

Like many of you this past Tuesday—September 11, 2018—my family watched several different 9/11 memorials and remembrances along with forecasts and news about the impending arrival of Hurricane Florence. Later in the evening, we watched an episode of Bull. (Bull is a television drama about a trial consulting firm where Bull and his team employ psychology and high-tech data to understand jurors, lawyers, witnesses and defendants to help their clients win.) (more…)

Bob & Pastor Carrie Bishop

“Bishop Tim preached the resurrection!”

How often has your family shared milestones and life passages with your pastor or deacon over the years? Most likely, your pastor has visited you in the hospital, baptized your children, officiated at weddings, cried over divorces. Your youth and family minister or music minister has celebrated graduations with you, prayed with you, and supported your grieving when you lost loved ones. But have you ever wondered who rostered ministers turn to when their own families celebrate special occasions and need pastoral care and support? (more…)

Was It Worth It?

Right there, at nearly midnight, in a small, gray dorm room with nine people perched on desks, beds, and chairs, sweaty from a very long Houston summer day, snacks and drinks everywhere…a boundary was erased.

It was worth it. Every dollar. Every minute. Every drop of sweat. Every late night. Every early morning. Every long line. Every ounce of sunscreen. It was all worth it.

Before leaving for the ELCA National Youth Gathering, I wondered on my blog about the cost of it all. Is the $1,000+ for each person a faithful use of the resources God has given us? I had decided that it was worth it, in part, because we who belong to small congregations need to feel how alive, enormous, and vital the Church is today. (more…)

Bring all voices to the table

A young single woman is recently divorced and has been kicked out of her husband’s community, the boundary in Cherokee, N.C. She has no home, no job, and no food for herself and her son. She turns to the local food pantry that happens to be at Living Waters Lutheran Church, one of seven mission congregations in the NC Synod. At the food pantry this young woman meets Lisa Russell who runs the food pantry. Like a mother hen, Lisa gathers the young woman under her wings and the woman becomes a part of that community…first at the food pantry to get food, then at a women’s group at Living Waters, and finally for worship. She now serves as the church treasurer. (more…)

we act to end racism

We act to end racism

“You are not only responsible for what you say, but also for what you do not say.”

We, as a synod and national church, act and stand against racism.

A young pastor serving his first congregation in Connecticut accompanied a group of college youth to the voter registration program in Mississippi in 1964. He went as an “adult” to be a possible mature presence among the college youth running the movement (the Southern Nonviolent Coordinating Committee).  (more…)

A new and joyful noise

Psalm 100 urges us to “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the lands. Serve the Lord with gladness. Come before His presence with singing.” The Church of the Savior, Newland, was able to sing  praise to the Lord on Easter Sunday accompanied by a beautiful new musical instrument—a pipe organ that consists of two manuals, four ranks and 293 pipes. The console is built from red oak that is stained walnut and the case box housing the pipes is walnut with maple trim.  (more…)

campus ministry group

Campus ministry makes a difference

By Pebbles Cloninger, member of Philadelphia, Dallas

I don’t remember much about my high school graduation—that was 35 years ago in June—but I do remember that about a week before I left for college, I received an invitation to a “Welcome to Campus” cookout sponsored by Lutheran Campus Ministry at the local Lutheran church. My parents were thrilled to know that the Lutherans knew I was headed their way and, obviously, encouraged me to attend. Along with all of the important papers I would need for that first week or so, I packed the invitation (with no intention of attending…I was 18, after all) and headed off to college.


Pastor John Merck burns the mortgage as Pastor CeCee Mills looks on.

A glorious day

Palm Sunday was a glorious day for A Mighty Fortress, Charlotte! As we looked backwards in sorrow towards the remembrance of the upcoming Crucifixion of our Lord, Jesus Christ, we looked forward to the burning of our church mortgage!  (more…)

Youth who love like Jesus

If you had walked into the Embassy Suites Hotel in Greensboro in late February for a relaxing weekend away, you might have been surprised to find approximately 500 youth and adults gathered for a weekend focused on how to Love Like Jesus. (more…)

Ministry in two languages

The Church of the Savior, Newland, held a Spanish and English Ash Wednesday / Miércoles de Ceniza service at 6:00 p.m. on February 14.  (more…)

Dr. Ryan Luhrs conducts the LRU A Cappella Choir at Unity Lutheran Church March 4th

Standing room only

“Now I know what heaven is like,” marveled Pastor Kate Crecelius of Unity Lutheran Church in Hickory. (more…)

Candidacy group in Holy Land

Preparing for ministry…in the Holy Land

Julie Tonnesen, a second-year seminary student at Duke University Divinity School, was recently preparing for the trip of a lifetime; a trip to the Holy Land. “I am excited to explore the places I’ve read about, and to interact with people who occupy and live in those spaces today. My grandfather is a Lutheran pastor, and his advice was for me to go right away,” she said. (more…)

Free Pantry

“Little Free Pantry” opens

Ascension Lutheran Church, Shelby, has opened a “Little Free Pantry” on its property facing Marietta Street. The Little Free Pantry, is for neighbors helping neighbors.


Eight was a magic number

Mission Team 2018 from Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Hickory, just returned from eight days in Costa Rica building on their more than ten-year relationship with ILCO staff (Iglasia Luturana Costarricense) and reconnecting with members in three of its faith communities.



St. Luke’s, Tyro, writes notes of gratitude

St. Luke’s, Tyro, worked on several “God’s Work, Our Hands Sunday” projects, including writing notes of encouragement.



“God’s Work. Our Hands.” across the synod

Congregations all across the NC Synod recently participated in the ELCA effort “God’s work. Our hands.” Sunday. This designated day gives us an opportunity to celebrate who we are as a church—one church, freed in Christ to serve and love our neighbor. Read these stories to see the many ways congregations across the synod are serving and loving their neighbors.


Beth Eden, Newton, out in the community

Beth Eden, Newton, worked on several community projects for “God’s Work, Our Hands Sunday.”



First, Greensboro, hosts Packing Palooza

More than 100 people gathered at First, Greensboro, on the first Sunday of September to pack hope for agencies in Guilford County, focusing on hunger, homelessness and children. The motto of “God’s work. Our hands.” was in evidence with stations around the Community Center surrounded by enthusiastic children, youth and adults who packed boxes of food, filled Blessing Bags, sorted items such as children’s underwear and socks, and put items in Snack Packs.



Philadelphia, Dallas, “does something”

At Philadelphia, Dallas, we celebrated “God’s Work. Our Hands.” weekend with a brief and casual worship service where everyone was commissioned to go and “do something.” We followed worship with boxed lunches from Subway; then 56 folks from our congregation spent the afternoon serving our neighbors.  (more…)


Mt. Olive, Hickory, has weekend of service

Mt. Olive, Hickory,  had a “God’s Work. Our Hands.” weekend of service.



Morning Star, Matthews, is counting!

Morning Star, Matthews, celebrated “God’s Work. Our Hands” Sunday with a unified worship service followed by participation in servant experiences either on site or in our community.  (more…)


Living Saviour, Charlotte, helps kids, teachers

Living Saviour, Charlotte, participated in several God’s Work. Our Hands. efforts this August including one project for “Beds for Kids” and another in support of a local elementary school. (more…)


Grace, Raleigh, reforms and serves

“This is what 500 years old looks like!” As an ever-reforming church, Grace, Raleigh, paired the recognition of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation with “God’s Work. Our Hands.” Sunday this year. First, they held “Lutherfest” to kick off this year’s Sunday school–celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation which was both educational and fun-filled.  (more…)

Ascension, Shelby, goes global

For “God’s Work. Our Hands.” Sunday 2017, we invited an ELCA Young Adult in Global Mission (YAGM) to visit with us and help us focus globally for this year’s churchwide day of service. Kurt Hellmann, who lives in Minneapolis, MN joined a group of congregation leaders and former voting members for dinner on Saturday night, and then we welcomed him to the pulpit Sunday morning where he shared from his heart and experiences during his service year in Cambodia. (more…)

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