Elaine Bryant, director of Lutheran Church Missouri Synod World Relief, said the World Relief program aims to alleviate the effects of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks through districts and congregations by providing immediate emergency assistance, counseling, disaster-response information and check lists for pastors, and worship and counseling resources for school and Sunday school children.
LCMS World Relief also is working through Lutheran Disaster Response, a joint program with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, to provide disaster response coordinated by a New York area Lutheran social ministry organization; a program of care for the care givers; workshops for schoolchildren, teachers and parents; coordination with efforts of the American Red Cross; coordination with Church World Service for a regional network of pastoral-care resources; and grief counseling and a "ministry of presence" at disaster sites and beyond.
Bryant said Lutheran Social Services of Metropolitan New York proposed to the city of New York an emergency children's services plan. She said that between 300 and 400 children were in a New York hospital Sept. 12 because they were not picked up from school the day of the air attacks. Part of the proposal was to ask area congregations to provide short-term emergency care for children who need it.
The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod also sponsors Human Care ministry, which includes, "A staff of trained professionals (who) serve with you to meet many human care needs, including health related issues, prison ministry, chaplaincy, older adult ministry, housing, alcohol and substance abuse recovery, disaster response, and many more life issues which affect the lives of people throughout the world and in every walk of life."
At this time, Human Care is busy helping those affected by the events of Sept. 11.
Peter Shankman, a New York based public relations professional of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod has noticed increased volunteerism since Sept. 11 than that seen at the disaster sites. He said this trend extends into American places far from New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania -- as in central Minnesota, for instance.
"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me."
-- Matthew 25:35-36
By HOLLY BIGGINS
The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod has been working steadily alongside other helping organizations throughout America in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and their devastating effects on people.
Wednesday afternoon, Pastor Terry Small of Prince of Peace Church in Baxter, an LCMS affiliate church, said that earlier in the day the parish had a group of women on site bundling up boxes of cookies, candy, batteries for powering portable CD players, Christmas cards that package recipients could send to others, gum, Kleenex, and other useful, everyday items into care packages bound for servicemen and women and college students.
"I believe that the people in the lakes area are already very much involved in volunteering ... reading to children, visiting people in the nursing homes, volunteering in nursing homes and at the hospital," Small said. He said Brainerd School District volunteer coordinator Susan Rogers and other area volunteer coordinators talk about the high level of volunteerism in the area.
"One of the things I say when I teach and preach," said Small, "is that people have the mistaken idea that being a Christian just means being in church on Sunday morning. But there, we are actually fed to go out as a son, a daughter, as a reporter, a teacher..." to go out and live the word.
What matters more, Small said, "is how we live our life all week long. ... And in our area, people are very active in loving their neighbor in a quiet way."
In Romans 12:1, Small said, "Paul tells us, 'Offer your bodies as living sacrifices.' And he explains what that means. ... he says that this is your normal act of worship," which means literally offering ourselves, in the sense of service, to others.
Small did an informal survey on current levels of volunteerism in the community. He found that "people are involved and have been for quite some time. People volunteer hundreds of hours at the Christian school down the street. ... We've had people volunteer at the women's shelter, at Lakes Area Pregnancy Center, people volunteer from here over at Habitat for Humanity and at the Sharing Bread Soup Kitchen. Once a month our families go and do something just to serve someone -- like rake leaves, or go to a nursing home and play bingo."
Captain AmyJo Ferguson of the area Salvation Army echoed Small's findings.
"We've not had any significant change," she said, "but we also already had a really good group of regular volunteers -- people who have been volunteering for us for a while."
In terms of area responses to Sept. 11 recovery efforts, Ferguson said, "Any funds earmarked for Sept. 11, we send on to our national disaster coordinator. And they distribute those funds to the people on-site. Since the disaster happened at three different sites, they have to distribute them to one of the sites. If a donation is made to general Sept. 11 funds, they will distribute them to the three in a fair number.
"One of our internal policies," Ferguson said, "is that we use all money for what the donor has asked for. Here in the Brainerd lakes area, if a donation is designated for the food shelf, it doesn't go to turning on the lights or anything else. It goes to what the donor has asked it to. And the Sept. 11 funds are dealt with in that exact same manner.
"Local people spring into action in addition to our regular duties" when disaster strikes, Ferguson said. "There is a Salvation Army corps in Pennsylvania that is in charge of what happened there, and a corps in Arlington, Va., who are in charge of the Pentagon site."
In New York "we have been sending in some reinforcement troops to serve at Ground Zero, to do things like manage food and such for people doing recovery work and searching for bodies. They also work as grief counselors," Ferguson said.
The Salvation Army logo shows visibly in the background of many photos and videos taken at disaster sites.
"We have our (holiday) kettle drive coming up," Ferguson said, "so it's possible that we'll see an increase in the number of volunteers for our kettles this year. That's our big volunteer push for the year, and right now is the time for us to recruit volunteers for that and to get people going."
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