Ascension, Shelby, creates “agape” gifts

2019-09-30T15:03:12-04:00October 1st, 2019|Categories: God's Work Our Hands, News|

Ascension, Shelby, creates “agape” gifts

For the last two years, Ascension, Shelby has extended “God’s work. Our hands.” across an entire weekend. On Saturday, September 7, volunteers worked inside and outside the church property. The sanctuary got a deep cleaning, new mulch was laid, and the second floor, newly re-carpeted, was readied for meeting and classroom use.

Holy Cross, Mocksville shreds and ties

2019-09-26T13:14:32-04:00October 1st, 2019|Categories: God's Work Our Hands, News|

Holy Cross, Mocksville, shreds and ties

In 2016, Holy Cross, Mocksville, set the date for the document shredding truck from COR365 to come to Holy Cross this September. (Yes, it took three years to be on their schedule.) We were fortunate because they are no longer doing this as a community service since recycled paper value is low. We did newspaper and word-of-mouth publicity. We also had a large sign at the church all week advertising the shredding event. We raised over $750 toward our 2020 Relay for Life team goal. The photo includes two COR365 employees as well as Holy Cross members: Pastor Kelly Moore, Joe and Cindy Valliere, Donna

Grace, Washington, buys bears, goats

2019-09-30T15:04:25-04:00October 1st, 2019|Categories: God's Work Our Hands, News|

Grace, Washington, buys bears and goats

Grace Lutheran Church, Washington, is a small but mighty congregation. In years past for “God’s work. Our hands.” Sunday, we have gone to our local food bank, Eagles Wings, and painted. This year so that more of our elderly congregation members could participate, we did something different. This year we decided to give a gift that keeps on giving. We collected small stuffed animals such as teddy bears and then, on Sunday, we delivered them to our local fire department. They will be given to children when an emergency such as a house fire or car accident occurs. This

Always being made new

2019-10-13T21:08:02-04:00September 16th, 2019|Categories: Mission Support Stories, News|

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

Fall Convocation for rostered ministers

2019-09-01T19:59:41-04:00September 1st, 2019|Categories: News|

Fall Convocation for rostered ministers

It’s getting to be that time of year. When the calendar flips to September it means Fall Convocation for church leaders is just weeks away. Your planning team dreams about what you might need when you arrive, and then we work to make it happen.
We know you need some rest, so we plan a schedule that isn’t too jam-packed and create spaces to take a break or catch up with a friend.

Pull up a chair!

2019-08-19T22:25:45-04:00August 19th, 2019|Categories: Campus Ministry, Mission Support Stories, News|

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.

Faith, love, joy and helping others

2019-08-19T14:29:01-04:00August 19th, 2019|Categories: Congregation Stories, News|

“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.

Our country’s proud tradition

2019-08-07T10:00:06-04:00August 1st, 2019|Categories: News|

Our country’s proud tradition: welcoming immigrants and refugees with generosity and grace

The United States is the land of freedom and of welcome. Our nation’s history overflows with stories of people relocating to the United States, beginning with the first pilgrims being welcomed by the hospitality and generosity of the Wampanoag and their feast of Nikkomosachmiawene, or Grand Sachem’s Council Feast. Virtues of hospitality continue to be valued as “American” as we have welcomed generations, including our own president’s mother, who emigrated from Scotland in the 1930s. Whether they were fleeing religious persecution or searching for a better life, our country has a proud tradition of welcoming immigrants and refugees with generosity and

Day 25—Conclusion

2019-07-20T18:15:34-04:00July 30th, 2019|Categories: News, Summer of Psalms|

Reading 25—Conclusion

I hope that, if not before, you have an appreciation now for the immense depth and breadth of this wonderfully earthy and human hymnbook of the ancient Israelites and for Christians as well. In most congregations that follow the lectionary, the Psalms hold such a revered place that it’s the only book of the Bible from which we read/sing every single week.

Day 24—Psalm 150

2019-07-20T18:08:15-04:00July 29th, 2019|Categories: News, Summer of Psalms|

Reading 24—The Five Ws
Psalm 150


Like many of you, in elementary school, I learned that in order for a story or report to be complete, it had to answer the five Ws:  who, what, when, where, and why (and sometimes a sixth question, how, is also needed). My third-grade teacher drilled this concept into our heads and I’m sure she could have used Psalm 150 as a perfect example. In only six short verses, Psalm 150 tell us who, where, and how to praise the Lord, the reasons for the praise, and who or what should do the praising. God

Day 23—Psalm 139

2019-07-20T17:52:17-04:00July 28th, 2019|Categories: News, Summer of Psalms|

Reading 23—A God Who Gets It
Psalm 139


Are you running? Are you hiding? GOD understands; He understands the human condition. “Where shall I go from Your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from Your presence?” Much of life is a mystery to us! We look for answers that will help us to see through the veil of confusion. Our understanding of God is limited, fragmented, hidden, until we come to know certain truths about Him. “You know when I sit down and when I rise, You know my thoughts…even the words that come from my mouth, before they’re spoken, You

Day 22—Psalm 137

2019-07-20T17:46:11-04:00July 27th, 2019|Categories: News, Summer of Psalms|

Reading 22—A Cursing Psalm
Psalm 137 


The psalms are not God’s word to us. They are record of the psalmist’s words to God. Sometimes the words of the psalmist give voice to the darkest emotions of the human heart. In her book, Getting Involved with God—Rediscovering the Old Testament, Ellen F. Davis refers to these psalms “the cursing psalms” Perhaps the most notorious is Psalm 137.

Day 21—Psalm 136

2019-07-13T11:30:35-04:00July 26th, 2019|Categories: News, Summer of Psalms|

Reading 21—God’s Love Endures Forever
Psalm 136


Each October for the past several years, on Homecoming Sunday at Mt. Zion in Richfield, we have begun worship with a litany of praise based on this psalm, written by someone in the congregation. Beginning with “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; His love endures forever,”1 the litany recounts the history of the congregation from its formation in 1895 and gives God the praise for the work of faithful members and pastors throughout the years. It even incorporates the ELCA tagline, God’s Work. Our Hands.

Day 20—Psalm 121

2019-07-13T11:27:04-04:00July 25th, 2019|Categories: News, Summer of Psalms|

Reading 20—Look up. Look down. Look all around…
Psalm 121


This beloved psalm doesn’t begin with a declaration about the Lord as Shepherd. Instead, with eyes raised towards places up high, the psalmist asks a question as old as humankind: from where will my help come?

Day 19—Psalm 111

2019-07-13T11:23:58-04:00July 24th, 2019|Categories: News, Summer of Psalms|

Reading 19—God’s Gift of Compassion
Psalm 111


This psalm initially brings to mind the awesomeness of God and that God is worthy of praise. I picture people singing hymns during a worship service. I think of breathtaking mountains I have seen and what it feels like to take the time to really look at them. I remember standing by the ocean and enjoying the powerful and calming sound of the water. When I think about how beautiful the natural world is around me, I instinctively find myself feeling amazed by God and what God can do.

Day 18—Psalm 104

2019-07-13T11:21:07-04:00July 23rd, 2019|Categories: News, Summer of Psalms|

Reading 18—Praising Our Creative Creator
Psalm 104


This psalm poignantly describes creation and most importantly points to God as the Artist behind the canvas and the Creator responsible for creation. There is an interesting Hebrew word used in this psalm (yada) which delicately mingles confession and praise as flowing from the same heart. This dynamic duo of praise and confession reminds us that this is a worship psalm and that God is the object of our attention.

Day 17—Psalm 100

2019-07-13T11:18:11-04:00July 22nd, 2019|Categories: News, Summer of Psalms|

Reading 17—Our “Blueprint” for the Christian Life
Psalm 100


Many Bible commentaries cite this psalm as the background of The Doxology (Praise God from whom all blessing flow) and the familiar hymn “All Creatures who on earth do dwell”. Some of my earliest memories of this psalm go back to the two-room elementary school of my childhood in Northeastern Pennsylvania. The practice back then was to read a psalm each morning before the start of class. The teacher read the psalm in the younger grades, but students read it in grades 5 to 8. Since this psalm contained only five verses

Day 16—Psalm 98

2019-07-13T11:14:43-04:00July 21st, 2019|Categories: News, Summer of Psalms|

Reading 16—Living in Joy
Psalm 98


I love to sing. It is one of the things which I most love to do, especially with a choir or a congregation. If I were pushed to analyze the why of this, I would have to say that music and singing fills my heart with joy. Sitting on a bookshelf in my living room just above my CD player is a small plaque which reads, “After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.”, words of Aldous Huxley. There is something beautifully and powerfully mysterious about the effect music has

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