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Stories to Tell
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Stories of Fatih in Action
From the 2011 "Stories of Faith in Action":
Joining the Conversation about Scripture
When the Rev. Laura Barbins asks new members why they've chosen to join Celebration Lutheran Church, Chardon, Ohio, she often hears the same answer.
"Because the Bible is at the center of what you do."
Pastor Barbins is delighted by that response, but admits, "I'm not sure that would have been as evident before we implemented the Book of Faith Initiative. Those comments are a nice affirmation of what we are doing."
Book of Faith, an initiative of the ELCA, encourages members to deepen their knowledge about Scriture through study and conversation. This five-year collaborative program was launched in 2008 and leads up to the ELCA's 25th anniversary in 2012.
Celebration is one of 100 congregations in the ELCA Northeastern Ohio Synod who are participating in the Book of Faith Initiative, according to Karen Kaufman, the synod's resource center director.
The impact of the initiative on the congregation hasn't gone unnoticed by member Paul Gochnour.
"As a lifelong Lutheran, I haven't always seen a lot of Lutherans walking into church carrying their Bibles." Paul said. "Book of Faith has brought the Bible more into focus for people (at Celebration), myself included."
Paul has enjoyed the interesting conversations spurred by doing the daily journaling exercise with his wife, Vickie.
"Sometimes we found completely different themes or messages in the same passage." Paul marvels. "It's (eye-opening) to see someone else's point of view (on Scripture)."
Taking the time to immerse himself in the Bible also has shed new light on the familiar, Paul says. "When you sit quietly and meditate on a passage, you gain new indights. The Scriptures come alive."
And it's fun, as testified by the laughter they often share together.
If you would like to joing the conversation about Book f Faith, go to www.bookoffaith.org
Adding to the Relationship
Missionary work isn't traditionally associated wtih a knack for business adminstration.
But for Jim Noss, his talent with numbers led him to Cameroon and the Central African Republic on behalf of the ELCA. He supported these Lutheran partner churches for over 30 years in his multi-faceted roles as treasurer and financial consultant.
His wife, Karen, has a gift for hospitality that made her an essential partner in their work together. She served as facilitator for thelocal guest house, welcoming and orienting the many volunteer workers and ELCA staff who cycled through the mission post.
Jim and Karen represent the new face of mission personnel who bring vital skills to ELCA partner churches around the world.
Lay people comprise about 70 percent of ELCA mission personnel today, according to Twila Schock, who directs ELCA mission personnel support. They are often teachers, health care professionals, or int he case of the Nosses, skilled business people.
"Mission personnel are no longer needed to do church planting because many of our companion churches had an amazing harvest." Twila says.
"But they are asking us, nonetheless, to be with them. They may need us to help with church administration, advocacy, communication, or assistance with Lutheran schools. Mission work has taken on a very different shape in the last 15 years."
Now Jim and Karen are retired and living in Minnesota. They travel throughout the United States to share their stories with ELCA congregations and to let them know about the work being done with global partners.
"We have a special story," Jim says. "We have witnessed so much and have been blessed in so many ways, having established many very close relationships with our African brothers and sisters. It is a joy to share that with (ELCA members) here."
To learn more about the Nosses' ministry in Cameroon, visit www.livinglutheran.com/adding.