For full stories and more, visit www.ELCA.org/news
A year later, ELCA members remain committed to restoring Minot, N.D.
The Souris River began rising June 22, 2011, in Minot, N.D. Five days later it would crest nearly 13 feet above the flood stage, driving 12,000 people from their homes and damaging more than 4,100 homes and businesses, including four church buildings of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) — three in Minot and one in nearby Burlington, N.D.
One year later, ELCA members and congregations are still rebuilding. ELCA Disaster Response remains in the region, coordinating volunteers and meeting both short-term and long-term recovery needs.
“We’re ecstatic to be able to talk about the outpouring of support from around the country,” said the Rev. Mark E. Narum, bishop of the ELCA Western North Dakota Synod, but, he admits, “A year later lives are still pretty bruised.”
Of the six ELCA congregations in Minot, three were harmed by the floods. In the flood’s immediate aftermath, affected congregations were paired up with the unaffected congregations for support and assistance in rebuilding and recovery.
According to Narum, the two biggest needs in the rebuilding effort now are “prayer and finances.”
ELCA Disaster Response has also continued to be active in the area. In collaboration with Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota and other faith-based and secular organizations, it is still working in the region to provide long-term support and services.
The ELCA is playing a vital role in Hope Village, a one-stop service center where volunteers can eat and sleep and access supplies, assignments and transportation as they continue mucking out flooded homes and working to eradicate mold.
The ELCA Western North Dakota Synod is also active in Camp Noah, a day camp for first- through sixth-graders that helps children work through their feelings about the disaster experience.
It is estimated that the complete redevelopment and restoration of the area could take nearly nine years to complete, and ELCA Disaster Response remains committed to meeting those needs.
For more information about ELCA Disaster Response, visit www.ELCA.org/disaster.
ELCA experiencing growth in the number of long-term mission personnel
The Rev. Tessa Moon Leiseth, her husband, Jon, and their two children will soon call Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, home for the next four years. Tessa is among 15 new missionaries of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) beginning service in July.
The ELCA is one of the few mainline denominations that fully support its long-term mission personnel. Every year 225 ELCA mission personnel serve in more than 40 countries, working hand-in-hand with global neighbors teaching, preaching, healing, peacemaking, building and growing communities. Of the 225, some are self-funded volunteers and others are serving a two-year commitment.
As the Leiseth family eagerly await their new journey, they acknowledge that it will be hard to leave family and friends, particularly their home in Moorhead, Minn.
“There is a mixture of grief, fear and anxiety,” said Tessa Leiseth. “We are leaving our safety net: what we know, things to which we are accustomed, and things that make us feel comfortable.”
Even so, a clear and compelling call drives them forward, she said. “That is the rock and anchor we hold onto as we navigate this. We don’t know what it means, we don’t know what it will be like, and we cannot even imagine the ways in which this experience will transform who we are. Yet we know this is what we are being called into.”
Financial support for ELCA missionaries is made possible through the generosity of congregations, individual members and others across this church.
“The ELCA Missionary Sponsorship program is an excellent way to make a direct connection between the hearts of our people and the ministry of ELCA missionaries around the globe. Together, God’s work is truly happening through our hands,” said the Rev. Lanny Westphal, who directs missionary sponsorship at ELCA churchwide ministries.
“Our church has not wavered in its commitment to supporting our missionaries,” despite some economic setbacks, said Schock, adding that the ELCA is experiencing resurgence in the number of fundable long-term missionaries.
The mission personnel will begin their service with orientation in Toronto, before moving to their respective areas of service.
Information about ELCA Missionary Sponsorship is available at http://bit.ly/MTpCEN