Dallas Church Members Assemble 125 School Supply Kits for Those in Need

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Dallas, Texas – Thanks to members who volunteered time and materials, First United Lutheran Church has assembled 125 school supply kits, which will be donated to those in need.

First United will donate the supplies as part of the larger Project Promise, a program of Lutheran World Relief.

The kits will be distributed throughout the world, to those affected by poverty, violence and natural disasters.

First United chose to participate in this project as part of the ELCA-wide, “God’s Work, Our Hands” Sunday.  This is one of many opportunities that First United takes to give back to the community.  The church also makes handcrafted quilts, often more than 100 per year, which are donated to those in need.

If you would like to learn more about Project Promise, please visit their website,

For more information about the ELCA and the day of service visit,

First United Lutheran Church holds services every Sunday at 10:30 am.  Visitors are welcome to attend.

The Petri Boys and a note on Apostolic Succession

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Celebrated on the Lutheran calendar today are the brothers Olavus and Laurentius Petri who led the Reformation in Sweden.  After attending the University of Wittenberg, where Luther taught, they returned to Sweden and spread the Evangelical message.   They also worked on a Swedish translation of the Bible and the worship services.  They purposely spread Luther’s teachings among the clergy in educating for the Reformation.  In fact, the Lutherans in Sweden kept the concept of Apostolic Succession by recruiting the bishops into the Evangelical movement.

Side note: apparently many Lutheran pastors in the USA can claim Apostolic Succession due to the former Augustana Lutheran Church’s Swedish roots, including the chain of Swedish bishops sending pastors to the US.  So, at my ordination almost 35 years ago, a participant took me aside and let me know I was in that chain as he had hands laid on him by one of these Augustana/Swedish pastors.  And so in March, I let our former Vicar, Katharina Behrens, know that when she was ordained a pastor in the German church, she had that same Swedish Apostolic Succession touch as I participated in her service!

National Crime Victims’ Rights Week

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According to a brochure that I picked up at the Post Office on Monday, this week commemorates “National Crime Victims’ Rights Week” under the theme “Serving Victims, Building Trust, Restoring Hope.”  Jesus knew the victim’s experience.  Think of the words from the Good Friday cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.”  Before we go too quickly to Easter promises, we can remember that our God also knows the pain of the victim and reaches out to provide release.  The situation is complex but we followers of Jesus can indeed recognize the centuries long call to the faithful exactly to serve victims, build trust, and restore hope.

Lutherans’ Role in the Dallas Civil Rights Movement

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In honor of Black History month, First United Lutheran Church will host
Bishop (emeritus) Mark Herbener on Sundays, February 21 and 28, from
9:15am until 10:15am. Bishop Herbener will share his reflections on the
central place played by Lutherans in the struggle for Civil Rights in
Dallas in the 1960s and 1970s.  During those years, Bishop Herbener served
as pastor of Mt. Olive Lutheran Church in the Fair Park area of Dallas,
centrally located for meetings and organizing during those years of
struggle.  All are invited!


Mt. Olive Lutheran Church – Dallas, TX

We Are Grace People

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Perhaps this month’s “From the Pastor” should be called “From the Presiding Bishop” since I am considering her statement, “We are Grace People” for this article.

During Bishop Eaton’s Wednesday afternoon session during the “Living Voice” conference I just attended in Atlanta, she re-emphasized her principles for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA): “We are Church. We are Lutheran. We are Church together. We are Church for the world.” Certainly, those brief phrases help us focus our identity as the ELCA.

Then while expanding on “We are Lutheran,” she reminded us that neither our cuisine (potlucks!) nor culture (German, Scandinavian, other European, or…) define “Lutheran.” Rather, our theology, our way of understanding God’s interaction with us and our world define us — and defines us as “Grace people.” Lutherans are known among the larger Christian family as the people who do not consider grace as an afterthought or a footnote in faith consideration, but we pull out Grace first and foremost. That means we start by stating we cannot do life or faith on our own. Rather, because of Grace, God decided to come into our world in Christ, died on the cross, and then rose on Easter so we can have faith; we can have life; we can have hope!

Bishop Eaton’s words reminded me once again that I came to the Lutheran church because of that message. I had been involved in church since childhood — that was the culture prevalent in my time. But as I got older I continually reflected on the message I seemed to hear growing up in Texas — was I good enough for God or if people searched my life would they find enough evidence to prove I was a Christian? When the Campus Pastor at my university proclaimed the clear message of Grace, faith opened up in my life.

Now, this Grace does not mean anything goes. Grace in fact presupposes we need it. (We realize we are sinners, flawed people, unable to create perfection.) Grace comes exactly to the im-
perfect, the flawed, the sinners — to real people. Grace comes to reorient our lives so we start with God, we depend on God, and we then are moved by God’s Spirit to act in this world.

As then we go deeply into the sweltering days of Summer, I invite everyone to go deeply aswell into faith. No heat can stop our gracious God from coming. And this gracious God invites us to be the church, to be the people who start with Grace, to be the people who carry this message of Grace together into a needy world, to be the people who trust such a gracious God to use even our talents and gifts on behalf of a world still needing people of Grace in proclamation and action!


The Crafty Quilters of First United Lutheran Church

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Dallas, Texas – The Crafty Quilters of First United Lutheran Church pose with 98 quilts, which they made to be given to those in need throughout the world. Their skill and resourcefulness keeps the cost to manufacture each quilt at just a few dollars, ensuring their work will impact as many lives as possible.

The quilts are used by those who receive them in many ways: To provide warmth and comfort at night, for use as a baby carrier, a means of transporting goods to market, a sunshade, or even as a shawl.

The Crafty Quilters meet on the first three Wednesdays of each month from 10:00am to 2:00pm.

Currently, the group is composed of:  Paula Ellis, Marilyn Martin, Lois Jacobi, Sharon Dunaway, Sylvia Vardell, Ingrid Mergeler, Harrel Hailie, Ruth Dunaway and Jim Martin.

On sewing days, Marilyn makes the quilt tops and backs, Paula and Lois join the backs, linings, and tops, forming the quilt, Ruth sews each quilt and Ingrid finishes them with ties.

If you would like to join them, and learn more about quilting while helping those in need, please contact Lois Jacobi: 214-668-2569, or email First United is located at 6202 E. Mockingbird Lane, Dallas, TX  75214

First Building

Happy 90th Birthday, First United Lutheran Church!

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What a wonderful day celebrating God’s gracious work through First United Lutheran Church for the past 90 years! We started by reviewing the congregation’s history during the Sunday Morning Adult Study at 9:15am. An anniversary festival worship service followed in our 1963 building (the usual location where we meet!). The order of service included portions from the 1923 era, then the “new” book of the late 1950s, concluding with our current worship resource.
Then we recessed to the 1947 worship space (the current Parish Hall) for light refreshments and fellowship. Opportunities to view scenes from the past will be included. Special anniversary offerings were received and undesignated offerings were divided between White Rock Center of Hope, Mt. Olive Lutheran Church Food Pantry, and First United Lutheran Church.

First United Lutheran Church began from a group who started meeting in 1922 at First Baptist Church with SMU theological students leading worship until a full-time pastor could arrive. By late April 1923 a congregation was organized and a building purchased that Summer on Cole Avenue near Knox. The congregation remained vital but small, weathering the Great Depression, then relocating after World War II to minister to the growing area of Northeast Dallas, moving in a former military chapel in 1947 for a worship space. The congregation gathered an interesting mix of professionals, business folks, and persons in the construction industry, Swedish, Icelandic, and German immigrants, old time Lutherans and the recently interested. After raising a new building in 1963, the congregation became crucial in the start of several other area congregations (such as Bethany on Walnut Hill, King of Glory on LBJ, and St. Luke’s in Richardson) as the Lutheran church expanded in the Dallas area. After a challenging period, stability has returned in the new millennia and we are evaluating how we might best gather, grow, minister, and respond in the years ahead!

More Easter — and no April Fooling!

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Happy Easter for Seven More Weeks!

I always thought Christians had an advantage in celebrating Easter for another seven Sundays after Easter Sunday. And not just because the Easter candy is reduced in price at Walgreens and Target!
The real sweetness comes from realizing that the dramatic message of the resurrection has meaning not only for Jesus but for the followers of Jesus. So, we are not quite ready to let the wonder of Easter go. In the Sunday readings we discover the power of Easter in the early church, and we can discover the Easter power in our own lives. And not just because we too will be resurrected in the future. But right now, the power of Easter can promise hope, a hope greater than the oncoming Spring. God can raise our vision to see possibilities where we might see only dead-ends or tombs. It is interesting that Luke’s Gospel continues after the resurrection account with the risen Christ offering peace and blessing to his followers, and in their joy those first followers gathered together for worship. We still can gather for worship. We can still know greater joy because of the resurrection. We still receive blessings in this world from the risen Christ. We can know peace in a sometimes frantic world because of the resurrected Jesus.
So I invite you to worship. I invite you to consider blessings that are blooming in your lives. I invite you to know peace. I invite you to continue to share the joy of the Easter message.