Archives for July 2012

35,000 ELCA Youth Make a Difference in New Orleans

“Citizens with the Saints” spreads literacy, beauty and inspiration



More than 35,000 youth and adults are heading for New Orleans for the “Citizens with the Saints” Youth Gathering. This event is the largest convention the city hosts, and the influx of Lutherans will boost the city’s population by 7% July 18-22. New Orleans welcomes the ELCA because they know we are there to make a difference.

There will be over 700 youth and adults representing Central States Synod congregations participating in the Gathering’s efforts to improve literacy, clean up the environment, and care for the New Orleans community. Learn more at

Please pray for all Youth Gathering participants and for the New Orleans community in the coming days, as well as the staffs of the gathering and the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod. You can follow the event online at

Here are just a few of the big impact projects the Youth Gathering will take on:

  • Literacy matters! — Gathering participants will hold 48 book festivals and 38 literacy camps for local children. Statistics show that the average child in New Orleans is at least two years behind grade level in reading, and there is a direct correlation between reading level and earning potential. In all $180,000 worth of books will be distributed. The Gathering will also assemble 15,000 school supplies worth over $130,000 for 119 schools. Two new libraries will be developed, and one renovated, with 800 books each.
  • Environmental sustainability — More than 2,300 volunteers will visit New Orleans neighborhoods with the Tip the Block program that connects residents to free services that help them increase their energy efficiency, live sustainable lifestyles, and beautify their neighborhoods. And each day, 450 volunteers will join the effort to demolish some of the thousands of blighted properties across New Orleans.
  • Cultural literacy — Hundreds of volunteers will join Ivan Watkins, an internationally known local artist, and community members in painting murals at three local parks. In addition over 40 pieces of art will be painted and installed in local schools and libraries. Gathering youth will also be learning from local museums, universities and cultural institutions about how history, culture, context and the decisions we make impact people’s lives.
  • Community Care — Volunteers will be painting and cleaning up a number of area schools and parks, and cemeteries.

Youth Gatherings are also famous for mass programs, which are held each night in the Superdome and will be streamed live at and on the Gathering’s Facebook page.

Inspiring speakers include:

  • Leymah Gbowee, a Liberian peace activist and 2011 Nobel Peace Laureate;
  • Shane Claiborne, founder of the Simple Way community in Philadelphia that has helped to birth and connect radical faith communities around the world;
  • Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber, founding pastor of House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver who also writes for, The Christian Century and

Entertainment will be provided by well-known artists including AGAPE*, Peter Mayer, Heatherlyn, Aaron Strumpel and Switchfoot. Get more information by downloading the Gathering Guidebook at

Here’s the full livestream schedule:

  • Wednesday, July 18 at 7 pm (CDT) – Speakers: Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber, Rev. Yehiel Curry, Bishop Michael Rinehart. Artists: AGAPE*, Rachel Kurtz, Roots of Music.
  • Thursday, July 19 at 7 pm – Speakers: Shane Claiborne, Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson, Valerie Rivas, Megan Stubbs. Artists: Elijah Furquan, Tony Memel, Aaron Strumpel.
  • Friday, July 20 at 7 pm – Nobel Laureate Leymah Gbowee, Diane Latiker, Jamie Nabozny. Artists: Lost and Found, Rhema Soul,
  • Saturday, July 21 at 7 pm – Speakers: Rev. Andrena Ingram, Greg Von Wald. Artists: Heatherlyn, Preservation Hall Junior Jazz and Heritage Brass Band, Switchfoot.
  • Sunday, July 22 at 9:30 am – Closing worship

It’s amazing how much more we can accomplish when we work together as one church, the ELCA!



Oromo Mission Developer Reaches Around the Globe

From Melaku Tizazu, Mission Devloper and TEEM Candidate

Dear Central States Synod congregations,

Greetings in the name of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ.

I am the ELCA Oromo Mission Developer in Kansas City metropolitan and the surrounding. I also am the founder and minister of the ‘Oromo Christian Ministry’ at which is an online “room” serving at this time an average  of 35-55 persons every day. I also run an evangelical Amharic language newsletter online ministry. It has been so difficult for many years to do these visions before I was connected to Central States Synod, ELCA.

My vision and mission to take advantage of my ethnic roots and serve the Oromo Language speaking Ethiopian community in Diaspora is not an easy task in anyways. This was extremely difficult and was burdensome to my family when I was doing it without any support. Visiting targets of evangelism at their residence is the most accepted and respected way of evangelism in our culture. And so driving several times a week and at times even several times a day, from Lee’s Summit to north Kansas City and Olathe, Kansas etc. could have been practically impossible had it not been for your support. The rising gas price could have made anything like this impossible. The  support I receive from the congregations of CSS is enabling me do and be what otherwise can stop. Thank you for your continued prayer and support and even more generosity if and when possible. I sure am a missionary/servant and in need.

The mission development has been much more difficult and slow growing than expected. There are many normal challenges as well as unique contextual complications that cannot be explained in short letter. Learning theology through the TEEM (Theological Education for Emerging Ministries) program, daily online ministry along with family and community duty with a very limited resources is really hard. I believe only the call of God can hold anyone in such condition.

The support I started receiving has been cut down. That is very sad. I believe someone somewhere in America knows that I could be supported more. But I am so thankful to the Lord and to every Central States Synod congregations who are contributing towards supporting me and my service to Christ. I continue enjoying the support and personal encouragement of  Pr. Jennifer Thomas and the saints at Immanuel Lutheran Church. Bishop Dr. Mansholt and Pr. Dale thank you so much for all the encouragement and support I have been receiving from you every possible way.

Thanks to the Lord. Thank you.

Melaku Tizazu
Kansas City Oromo Mission Developer
816-931-8484 ch: 816-521-8132

Download as bulletin insert: Oromo Worshiping Community


Camp Tomah Shinga Quilt Aution

Bidders came from all around the Central States Synod to support Camp Tomah Shinga during it’s annual Quilt Auction, this year held on June 30. The auction was moved indoors this year due to excessive heat — the air conditioning was certainly appreciated! Over 80 items went up for auction and nearly $15,000 was raised to support the camp and programming. This event is always a good time: with the auction, camp tours, lunch and fellowship with others. Thanks to all who provided auction items — thanks also to those who won the bid and took home a beautiful quilt or two!