National Lutheran News

Tsunami relief flooding in

All three large Lutheran groups making strategic responses.

The huge tidal wave that swept across the Indian Ocean in late December 2004, killing over 150,000 people and leaving many more homeless, has galvanized relief efforts around the world.

Through the efforts of Lutheran World Relief, Lu-theran denominations and congregations, and other Lutheran-related parachurch organizations, the Lutheran response has been significant.

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) International Disaster Re-sponse released $150,000 to assist immediate relief efforts in several coastal na-tions of the Indian Ocean.

ELCA International Dis-aster Response sent $100,000 through Action by Churches Together (ACT) to coordinate the process of meeting overall needs in the region. It designated another $30,000 to support the work of the United Evangelical Lutheran Church in India and another $20,000 for other regional relief work.

ACT is a worldwide network of churches and related agencies that meets human need through organized emergency response. It is based with the World Council of Churches (WCC) and Lutheran World Fed-eration (LWF), both in Geneva, Switzerland.

The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) relief agency, LCMS World Relief and Human Care, responded with financial support through three partners:

A $10,000 direct gift went to the Lanka Lutheran Church to respond to emergency needs.

A $75,000 direct grant, plus a gift-matching grant was provided to Lutheran Hour Ministries, which has active ministry centers in Thailand, Sri Lanka and India, to provide for emergency needs and offer spiritual counseling and other Christian resources.

A $75,000 gift-matching grant was created for Orphan Grain Train, which is shipping a container of supplies to its warehouse in Bangalore, India.

The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) is receiving contributions through the WELS Commit-tee on Relief. As of mid-January, the agency had sent $10,000 as an initial gift through the international relief agency CARE.

WELS leaders have chosen to work with the ecumenical agency rather than send support through LWR.

WELS leaders have suggested that long-term response might be funneled through WELS missions and missionaries, who could help with rebuilding and humanitarian needs.

A message on the WELS Web page suggested, “Our experience with disasters is that our more limited funds can sometimes be better used to do more good in the months after the disaster — long after the media and other relief agencies have left.”

The LWR Web page, www.LWR.org, was overwhelmed with responses in the days and weeks following the disaster.
Minneapolis-based Thrivent Financial for Lutherans announced a $1 million grant and a $2 million matching grant to LWR’s “Wave of Giving” campaign to assist victims in South Asia. The matching grant was extended to all 2.8 million Thrivent Financial members across the country.

Thrivent Financial member donations to LWR will be matched $1 for $1 through April 15, up to $2 million. Apotential $5 million could benefit tsunami victims.

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To contribute through Lutheran World Relief, visit www.lwr.org or call 1-800-LWR-LWR-2.