Monday, June 22, 2015

Summer Food Box Ministry

Remember that SUV full of food?  We're sending it out!
 The churches of the High Country Lutheran Coalition (Bethany, Boone; Church of the Savior, Newland; Grace, Boone; Holy Communion, Banner Elk; and St. Mark, Lenoir) are working together to help feed food insecure families this summer.
During the school year, the Feeding America BackPack program sends food home on the weekends to food insecure families.  During the summer, these families experience a food gap.

In April, a Faith/School Summit was held, to bring together area churches, schools, and agencies to address hunger and other issues by working together as a community.  The response has been overwhelming!  

The premise of the Food Box program is that one "box" of food feeds one family for one week.

The Lutheran Coalition churches have pledged a combined $6,000 for this food box ministry, which will result in over 120 boxes of food.  We meet together about every 2 weeks to pack the boxes, then send them out with members to be delivered to homes around the High Country.
Not only is this a great ministry to be involved in, it's also a great bonding experience, as we get to know members from other Coalition churches in a different light.  Working alongside people for a common cause strengthens us as a community, and gives greater purpose to the Coalition.

The response has been incredible.  The generosity, overwhelming.  God is multiplying our efforts to address hunger in our community.

Look for stories on this ministry to appear in the Watauga Democrat newspaper, and the NC Synod e-News.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Bringing Children to Funerals: Helpful or Harmful?

A member of the church or your family has died.  Should you bring the kids to the funeral?  Or will it be too much for them?  Too much to explain?  Too much emotion?  Too much worry?  Too much burden on their young hearts?  This is hard enough for an adult, perhaps we shouldn’t burden our kids with all that during their childhood.  Perhaps we should just leave them at home.

As a parent, so many factors go in to deciding what is the right way to raise your children to be healthy adults.  And it can be complicated, and very messy at times.  And so any parent who weighs all the options and chooses what they think is best for their kids is doing the right thing.

But if you’re on the fence about bringing your children to funerals, or if you’ve never thought reflectively about it before, let me make a plug: I believe it is very beneficial to bring your kids to funerals.  Of course, that’s only if they are open to it.  Forcing them to go might, of course, be harmful (though I would argue differently when it comes to Sunday morning worship – but that’s for a different post!)

Why is it helpful to bring children to funerals?

Especially if the deceased is not a family member, attending funerals as children is way to engage in practice grief.  It’s a way to wade into the grieving process by observing others grieve.  The Burial of the Dead liturgy the church uses is very powerful, and in itself can be very emotional, whether you were close to the deceased or not.  If the first time you ever attend a funeral is as an adult for someone you were very close to, the beauty and power of the liturgy could be almost overwhelming.  But if you’ve had some “practice” – if you’ve gone to enough funerals to at least be familiar with the liturgy before it’s someone you’re close to – then the funeral liturgy is like an old familiar friend to help guide you through your darkest moments of grief.

When my mother died suddenly and unexpectedly at the age of 50, the liturgy of her funeral service was of great comfort to me, because I knew it by memory.  But, don’t get me wrong.  It was still very emotional.  I didn’t “hold it together” in her service.  I cried openly – even leaning on my dad’s shoulder and sobbing like a child. 

The high emotions at a funeral are not something to be avoided.  In fact, that is part of the purpose of a funeral.  It provides the safe space for the release of true and heartfelt grief that must be felt as part of the grieving process.  And I knew it was OK for me to cry like my heart had been wrenched out of my chest – because I had seen it before.  Years earlier, my mom’s cousin had died, and I had seen her daughter put her head between her knees and cry in agony at the loss of her mother.  That image came back to me in my own grief, and I knew I wasn’t alone, and I didn’t feel like I had to keep all that emotion locked inside.  That funeral, and all the funerals I had been to prior to the age of 20 (the age I was when my mom died), helped prepare me for the hardest funeral of my young life.

The funeral service is the church’s farewell to the deceased, our final worship with them on earth until we join them in the Church Triumphant in glory.  The funeral service is also a chance to show our support to the immediate family of the bereaved.  It means so much to the family to see a church full of people who loved their family member, and who love and support them in their time of grief.  But the funeral service is also for us.  It is a time of closure, a safe time for the release of the sadness we feel at the loss, a time to praise God for the hope we have in the Resurrection, so that we can go forward from that day, not repressing our grief or trying to “hold it together,” but living into that hope until we, too, join the Church Triumphant.

All of this is not to say that your child should be at the funeral.  As I said above, given various circumstances, it might not be right for you or your child at this particular moment.  But, if you hadn’t considered it before, I hope this gives you some food for thought at the importance of attending funerals in childhood – both to give them the opportunity to grieve properly at this age for this person, and to help them be able to face the grief that will inevitably come when they get to be adults – freeing them up to live into the hope of the Resurrection we confess.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Summer Food Boxes

An SUV full of food!

We're ready for packing summer food boxes!
Thanks for helping us meet our goal!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Donation Progress

Summer Food Boxes

 This is for the food boxes we will pack as a Coalition.  We met our goal of $500 and will receive $500 in matching funds!

Pantry Items

Spaghetti Sauce with meat:

If every active family donates 3-4 jars, we'll have our goal!

Boxes of Crackers:

If every active family donates 3-4 boxes, we'll have our goal!


Cans of Green Beans:

If every active family donates 6-7 cans, we'll have our goal!

Tubes of Toothpaste:

If every active family donates 3-4 tubes, we'll have our goal!

Keep checking back for the latest numbers!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Summer Food Program

Help us fight hunger in our community.

This summer we will be participating in two projects to help the families of food insecure children in Watauga County.

1) One will be a High Country Lutheran Coalition joint ministry project to raise monetary donations to purchase supplies for food boxes.  We will pack these boxes together as a Coalition four times this summer.  Bethany's portion is to raise $500 (which is $16-20 per active family), which will be matched by an anonymous $500 donation, doubling our impact!

2) The other will be for food boxes which are assembled and distributed through Green Valley School (though the families assisted will come from all over the county).  For this, we are asking for pantry item donations.  Bethany has been assigned the following items (including breakdown of numbers per active family at Bethany, so you don't get overwhelmed):
Spaghetti Sauce, meat flavored: Need 90 jars = We're asking for 3-4 jars per family

Crackers: Need 90 boxes = 3-4 boxes per family

Green Beans: Need 180 cans = 6-7 cans per family

Toothpaste: Need 90 tubes = 3-4 tubes per family

Try to get donations in by June 14 (deadline can be extended, since these will be ongoing throughout the summer)

Need a shopping list/reminder to print off for these and the VBS donations?  Click here.

VBS Registration

Bethany and Grace Lutheran's Combined VBS
will be an adventure for the whole family
- not just the kids!

On Friday, June 26 and Saturday, June 27, we will be experiencing the story of the Exodus.
Those who wish to do so may camp out with us Friday night.
(If you don't wish to, you may go home to sleep and join us again Saturday morning.)

Please send in your Registration Form by June 14 (1 per family)
Download the Registration Form by clicking here.

Our Service Project for VBS will be assembling LWR School Kits (Lutheran World Relief)
Find out more about that and how you can contribute in this blog post (click here).

VBS Service Project

For our service project for VBS, we will be making 
School Kits for LWR (Lutheran World Relief)
We can get a better rate on bulk items if people give monetary donations.
Please submit your donations, marked VBS School Kits by June 14.
If you would like to donate items instead, please see this list, but note, LWR is very specific about what they will accept.  Please adhere to the guidelines.

Supplies needed for each kit:
·         4 (70-sheet) notebooks (may be wide- or college-ruled, measuring approx. 8x10.5”), NO loose leaf paper
·         1 (30-centimeter) ruler
·         1 pencil sharpener
·         1 blunt scissors (ie. Safety scissors with embedded steel blades)
·         5 unsharpened #2 pencils with erasers
·         5 black or blue ballpoint pens (NO gel ink)
·         1 box of crayons (16 or 24 count)
·         1   2½” eraser

·         Only NEW items in good condition, unless otherwise noted
·         No religious symbols, messages, or congregation’s name 
No U.S. flag, military symbols, references to armed forces, including camouflage