Our Story Blog
Bethsaida was my favorite place on our trip to the Holy Lands. The morning was damp and we hiked the road that the disciples would have hiked. We sat in a place where it is believed that Jesus said to those fishermen, “Come and follow.”
While in the Holy Land, we heard about the living stones, the stories of real people and their struggles from all three major religions. Hearing from a Palestinian, an Orthodox Jew, and a Christian Archbishop made all the places we visited come to life in a way that photographs cannot portray.
One of the incredibly moving parts of our trip was our visit to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Inside is both the traditional site of the tomb where Jesus was laid and the spot on Golgotha where they believe Jesus’ cross was. We had plenty of time that morning, so we were able to take our time while visiting these sites.
I went to the Holy Lands expecting to learn, expecting to see, but not really expecting to have a deep spiritual experience. I guess it is better when you expect nothing and gain the world.
It was Christmas Eve. Well, it was Epiphany in the Western Church, but for our Eastern brothers and sisters, it was Christmas Eve, and we found ourselves in Bethlehem at the Church of the Nativity. Needless to say, it was a popular location this day. We stood in line for what seemed to be a very long time.
This is the sixth article is a series of six focusing on the theme: “The Joy of Giving: How the Practice of Giving Draws the Heart to God.” This series, based on the words of Jesus, “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21), provides opportunity to hear the stories of hearts that are brought to that joyful place of being one with our generous God.
While a huge portion of the ministry of Lutheran Homes of South Carolina takes place in our five retirement communities, through the years other ministries have evolved as a natural extension of our ministry with older adults. One of those ministries is Lutheran Hospice, which provides compassionate end of life care for patients and their family members.
Early last year, the South Carolina Lutheran Retreat Centers entered into Phase II of the Building+Renewing+Believing Capital Campaign with the focus on renewing many of the existing facilities at Camp Kinard and Coastal Retreat. One of the major goals of the campaign was the much needed replacement of the 32 year old roof and surrounding soffits at Coastal Retreat.
I’m willing to bet that the phrase “Attractional Church” — if you know what that means, doesn’t bring to mind a Lutheran congregation right off the bat; and if I were making a bet, I’d wager that those who recognize this term think “stealth-Baptist megachurch” more than anything else. Think of NewSpring or Mars Hill, the congregations that attract young adults and all the cool folks who don’t usually like to hang out with me. They’re the congregations who figure out how to leverage the formula of worship, plus fog machines, divided by fifty choruses of How Great is Our God, times a pastor in trendy glasses and flip flops on a stage preaching for forty-five minutes about how his iPhone told him something cool, equals 10,000 people per Sunday. You know, the ones that cause most of us equal parts jealousy and suspicion.
There are moments in life and culture that we look back on and realize that they were a turning point. Last year on June 17, we experienced such a turning point in the South Carolina Synod of the ELCA when an estranged member of one of our congregations murdered nine people at Mother Emanuel AME in Charleston.