Our Stories

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

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, 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.

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“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.

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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.

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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.
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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.
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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blessing-bags

“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.

everyone

Beth Eden, Newton, out in the community

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

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Socks-Undies

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.

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stickers

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…)

car-wash

Mt. Olive, Hickory, has weekend of service

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

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pastor-naomi-carriker

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…)

tying-blankets-guys

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…)

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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…)