Sunday, February 2, 2014

A Pastoral Letter: Addressing the Peacetime Emergency

A Pastoral Letter from Bishop Wohlrabe


February 2, 2014
The Presentation of Our Lord

To:  The congregations, rostered leaders and members of the Northwestern Minnesota Synod ELCA

Dearly beloved in Christ,
May Jesus our true Light shine in your hearts and lives during this Epiphany Season.

From time to time we are called upon to address natural disasters that threaten the lives and well-being of our neighbors.    This brutal winter of 2014 has brought us into a peacetime emergency as announced by Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton last week.

Because the extended bitter cold snap has been exacerbated by a shortage of propane gas causing a sharp spike in fuel prices, many folks are being put at risk.   As usual the poor are most vulnerable.

In the last few days two ELCA members associated with Community Action Agencies on the territory of our synod have contacted me. 

Pastor Del Moen of Wadena, who serves on the board of the Mahube-Otwa Community Action Partnership, Inc. in Detroit Lakes, reported that propane prices have risen to three times the normal price (from roughly $2 per gallon to over $6 per gallon).   Mahube-Otwa has received over 600 calls from distressed residents, struggling to pay their heating bills under this intolerable set of conditions.

Mr. Joe Pederson (a member of Rollag Lutheran Church, Rollag) who directs the Lakes and Prairies Community Action Partnership in Moorhead  writes:  “This emergency is likely to become even more critical in the weeks to come. Propane suppliers in many cases have delivered propane to families/individuals who do not have the means to pay their bills. They [suppliers] are not in a position to continue to provide propane without payment.”

In response to this peacetime emergency, I urge members and congregations of the Northwestern Minnesota Synod ELCA to please respond in the following ways:

·        Remember those affected by this emergency in your daily prayers and in the weekly intercessions of our congregations;

·        Check on your neighbors (especially the frail elderly and others who are vulnerable) to make sure they are OK, staying warm, and living safely;

·        Open up your congregation’s or community’s “Good Samaritan” funds to supplement the strapped resources of agencies that provide fuel assistance; and

·        Make a special financial gift personally or from your congregation to a local agency that is offering help to poor people affected by this wintertime emergency.  (For information on your local Community Action Agency go to:    Recognizing the seriousness of this situation, Joy and I are making a personal gift, and I am requesting the synod executive committee to release some dollars from the NW MN Synod Disaster Relief Fund as well.

Let us pray:  Eternal God, amid all the turmoil and changes of the world your love is steadfast and your strength never fails.  In this time of danger brought on by bitter cold and a shortage of heating fuel, be to us a sure guardian and rock of defense.  Guide our  leaders with your wisdom, comfort and safeguard those in distress, and grant us courage and generosity to care for all who are in need; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.   (ELW, p. 76, adapted)

Your brother in Christ,
Lawrence R. Wohlrabe
Bishop, Northwestern Minnesota Synod
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
God’s work.  Our hands.

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